A red velvet cake is my go to recipe for events that ask me to bring something to share. The layered red velvet cake is quite intriguing with its bright red colour contrasting with fluffy white cream cheese frosting. Its flavour is also a mystery to those who have yet to taste a red velvet cake. The key is a mix of cocoa powder and vanilla flavour, with a buttermilk tanginess too.

If you’re after a recipe for red velvet cupcakes instead, I have one of those for you too!



Makes: 21cm layer cake   Difficulty: Easy


  • 2 x 21cm (8.3 in) round cake tins
  • Electric mixer
  • rubber spatula
  • flat knife or palette knife
  • Oven thermometer
  • Kitchen scales
  • Kitchen timer



  • 80g (2.8 oz) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 200g (7 oz) Caster Sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 15g (0.5 oz) Cocoa Powder
  • 30ml (1 fl oz) liquid red food colouring
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 160ml (5.4 fl oz) Buttermilk
  • 200g (7 oz) Plain Flour
  • ¾ teaspoon Salt
  • ¾ teaspoon Bicarb Soda
  • 2 teaspoons White Wine Vinegar

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 600g (1.3 lb) Icing Sugar Mixture
  • 250g (8.8 oz) Cream Cheese
  • 100g (3.4 oz) Unsalted Butter, softened


  • Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius (150 fan-forced; 340 F). Grease the sides of two 21cm round cake tins with non-stick spray and line the bases with baking paper.
  • To the bowl of an electric mixer add the soft butter and caster sugar. Beat them together on medium speed until the mixture is thick, pale and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs a little at a time. Beat the batter well after each addition of eggs until the batter is well mixed and smooth.
  • In a small separate bowl sift in the cocoa powder, add the vanilla extract and the red food colouring. Stir together until a thick deep red paste forms with no lumps.
  • Add the red paste to the bowl of the electric mixer and beat again on low speed until all the red colouring is evenly distributed. Scrape down the side of the bowl.
  • Add half of the buttermilk and half of the flour. Beat on low speed until just combined. Add the rest of the buttermilk and flour. Beat together lightly. It’s ok if the batter looks curdled at this stage.
  • Add the salt, bicarbonate soda and vinegar to the bowl. They’ll fizz together. Beat again on low speed for one minute, until everything is evenly mixed.
  • Split the cake batter evenly between the two cake tins. Check the oven has reached the correct temperature then place both pans on the middle rack of the oven.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top of each cake bounces back when lightly touched and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. If not, add another 5 minutes to the timer then check once more.
  • Remove cakes from the oven and let them cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes. Turn them onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • While the cakes are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting. Add the icing sugar and softened butter to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on low speed until the butter has coated the icing sugar to form a sandy texture. Increase speed to medium and add cubes of cream cheese one at a time. The frosting will start quite thick and yellow, then loosen to a fluffy white frosting. Beat for about 5 minutes to allow the icing sugar to dissolve.
  • To assemble the cake, place one cake layer onto a cake board or serving plate. Spread about one-third of the frosting over the cake evenly. Place the other cake layer directly on top. Spread more cream cheese over the top and the sides as well if you like.

Recipe adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery 



  • Liquid red food colouring has worked best for me. I like Queen brand because there’s no aftertaste to their colour.
  • Weigh all ingredients accurately and don’t over beat the cake batter.
  • Always pre-heat your oven and double-check the temperature is correct using an oven thermometer.
  • The cake batter will split if the ingredients were not at room temperature before beating together. It’s not a big deal if they do.
  • If you over-beat the frosting it can go runny. Use softened butter not melted butter and only beat until the right consistency and texture is achieved.