Red Velvet Cake

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An old friend and a new friend of ours from Alberta spent the last week with us here in Montreal. Their families came from Vancouver Island and Virginia to celebrate their marriage with a small ceremony at Mount Royal and a reception in our backyard. Their wedding colors were red and white, so in honor of this, we prepared a red velvet cake with cream cheese icing.

Red Velvet Cake


  • 5 cups (600g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups (600g) sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups icing sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack positioned in the center. Prepare two 9″ cake pans by greasing them and dusting them with flour, shaking out the excess.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In a separate large bowl, cream the butter and sugar on high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Incorporate the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, food coloring, and vanilla to form a paste until there are no lumps. Add this to the butter and sugar mixture and mix well.

Incorporate the dry goods into the wet goods by gently folding it in a third at a time, alternating with the buttermilk.

Combine the vinegar and baking soda in a separate bowl and quickly incorporate it into the batter. Divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake until firm and a toothpick can be inserted into the center and come out clean, about 35-40 minutes.

Remove cakes from the oven and cool for several minutes before running a knife carefully along the outside and turning onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare the icing by whipping the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla over the high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, gradually incorporating the icing sugar to prevent a snowstorm.

To prepare the cake, carefully slice each cake horizontally in half (or leave whole if you wish). Start with a sturdy flat cake on top of a cake stand (or a lazy susan!) and spread a thin layer of cream cheese icing on top. Layer the cakes with icing in between until you have a stack of four.

To ice, the cake, apply a thin coat of the icing over all of the exposed edges with a flat spatula. This will help prevent any of the bright red crumbs from coming through the white icing. Then, set aside a cup or so for your piping bag and pipe the remaining icing on top of the cake. Carefully spread a thick layer over the top of the cake, then distribute over the edges and down to the bottom, smoothing the outside by holding your spatula vertical and at a slight angle while you carefully turn the cake stand. This is a skill I am neither adept at performing or explaining properly. Use the remaining icing to pipe rosettes onto the cake and/or cover up any blemishes.

Be careful not to get red food coloring on yourself or all over the kitchen when making this cake as it stains quite well. The flower was made with the same cream cheese icing and a liberal addition of red food coloring with a flower tip and tack purchased at the supermarket.

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