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Red Velvet Cake


This is similar to the original recipe that began the red velvet craze. It was developed by the Adams Extract company in Gonzales, Tex. The original recipe, popularized in the 1940s, called for butter flavoring and shortening and is usually iced with boiled milk, or ermine, frosting.

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  • 1/2 cup (113-grams) butter, at room temperature, plus 2 tablespoons to prepare pans
  • 3 tablespoons (22-grams) cocoa powder, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups (300-grams) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons (10-milliliters) vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons (30-milliliters) red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon (6-grams) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5-grams) baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups (250-grams) flour, sifted
  • 1 cup (236-milliliters) whole buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon (15-milliliters) vinegar
  • Ermine icing, or other fluffy white icing


Servings 12
Cooking time 60mins
Adapted from


Step 1

Heat oven to 350°F. Prepare three 9-inch cake pans by buttering lightly and sprinkling with 1 tablespoon sifted cocoa powder, tapping pans to coat and discarding extra cocoa.

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time and beat vigorously until each is incorporated. Mix in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, make a paste of the remaining 2 tablespoons cocoa and the food coloring. Blend into butter mixture.

Sift together remaining dry ingredients. Alternating in 2 batches each, add dry ingredients and buttermilk to the butter mixture. In the last batch of buttermilk, mix in the vinegar before adding to the batter. Mix until blended.

Divide batter among 3 pans and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a rack completely. (Can also be made in 2 cake pans.)

To assemble, remove 1 cake from its pan and peel away parchment. Place flat side down on a serving platter. Drop about 1 cup of icing onto cake and, using a flat spatula, spread evenly over top. Remove the second cake from its pan and remove parchment. Place flat side down on top of first layer. Use remaining frosting to cover top and sides of cake.

Yields one 9-inch 3-layer cake


Measurements for dry ingredients are given by weight for greater accuracy. The equivalent measurements by volume are approximate.

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