a red velvet birthday cake


Last Friday morning, the day we planned to celebrate Blythe’s birthday, I sat with her, flipping through cookbooks and online images while she chose the type of birthday cake she wanted–something with layers and topped with wildflowers. We talked about vanilla bean and Boston Cream and or maybe a spicy carrot cake. She definitely did not want chocolate, a place where our palettes diverge. Finally, Blythe selected Red Velvet, a cake I enjoy but had never made from scratch. I always wondered which ingredients composed this magical flavor, and of course what made it red? On Friday, the girls put on their aprons and helped me create this delicate and simple cake, and by the end of the weekend, every bit of it was gone–minus a few crumbs on the platter. It was delicious and light, something we would have enjoyed as much (or more) with a dusting of powdered sugar. Next time.



2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 Tablespoons unsweetened, cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 cup mild cooking oil (I used grapeseed oil)
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
.25 oz red food coloring, depends how deep you want the color
1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar
½ cup of prepared plain hot coffee (NOT optional)

Preheat the oven to 325. 

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt together in a medium sized bowl, and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and oil. Then mix in the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring until fully combined. Stir in the coffee and white vinegar. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time, just until combined. Don’t over-stir.

Generously grease two 9-inch pans with butter (or cooking spray or shortening) and flour. Pour the batter evenly into each pan. Bake in the middle rack for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Check the cakes sooner than the end time to make sure they don’t over-bake. The cake will continue to cook as it cools and you want it to remain moist.

Let the pans cool on a cooling rack until they are warm to the touch. Slide a knife or offset spatula around the inside of the pans to loosen the cake from the pan. Remove the cakes from the pan and let them cool. Frost the cake with the buttercream frosting or simply dust with powdered sugar when the cakes have cooled completely. If you desire to ice them sooner, put the cakes in the fridge. It help firm the cake, but it won’t lose its moistness.


3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-5 tablespoons whipping cream

Using a medium sized bowl or a free-standing mixer, mix the sugar and butter together on low speed until well-blended. Increase the speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and whipping cream to the bowl and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 more minute. Add more whipping cream if needed for spreading consistency.

recipe sources: cake | icing


Share this post:

Leave a Comment

You May Also Like
Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with  Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Tortilla Soup | Comfort in a Time of Isolation
Tortilla Soup | Comfort in a Time of Isolation

Grain-Free Chocolate Cupcakes, Four Ways For Valentine’s Day