I could write a dissertation on the misconceptions about red velvet cake, but for the sake of your sanity, I’ll keep this brief. Red velvet cake is a tender buttermilk cake, gently flavored with cocoa and vanilla. The flavor is neither vanilla nor chocolate; but rather a subtle marriage of the two. The best red velvet cake is defined by its moist, soft crumb. Historically, red velvet cake might have been colored with beet juice; however, today nearly all recipes achieve their vibrant hues with artificial food coloring. Red velvet cake is frosted with cream cheese frosting or cooked–milk frosting. I prefer the tanginess of cream cheese frosting, but I may post a recipe for cooked–milk frosting in the future.
- 3 cups (345g) cake flour (not self-rising)
- 2 Tbsp natural cocoa powder (not dutch–process)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (240ml) canola oil
- 4 large eggs, separated (make sure that no yolk is mixed in with the whites)
- 1–1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
- Red food coloring (3.5 Tbsp liquid or gel to taste)
- 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk (I use whole–buttermilk because I don't believe in low fat versions of dairy, but the original recipe does say low fat is fine)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vinegar (apple cider or white)
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease cake pans and line with a circle of parchment (this is how you cut a circle of parchment). You can use two or three 8" or 9" cake pans, if you are using two pans as I do, make sure they are 2-3 inches deep with straight sides.
- Whisk together the cake flour, cocoa, and salt in a small mixing bowl to combine and aerate.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar for 3 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the oil and beat for another minute; don't worry if it looks a little lumpy. Beat in the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and food color. Mix in the buttermik and gently fold in the flour/cocoa mixture.
- In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to medium peaks. (It's imperative that the whisk or beater and the bowl be completely clean, or the egg whites will not form peaks.)
- Use a large spatula to fold the egg white mixture into the batter. Fold until no streaks of egg white remain. Mix together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl to dissolve, let it bubble for a second and then thoroughly mix into the batter.
- Divide the cake batter into your prepared cake pans; bake 30–40 minutes, depending on the cake pans you used. Cake is done when it springs back after being lightly pressed.
- 8oz full fat cream cheese (1 regular block of Philadelphia style) at room temperature
- 1 stick (113g) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 1-lb box (454g) powdered sugar
- ~1 tsp vanilla extract
- Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric hand mixer until well combined and creamy.
- Add half of the powdered sugar, beat until very well combined, add the remaining half of the powdered sugar, and beat until very well combined.
- Beat in the vanilla extract.
Jeremy Scheck spent high school perfecting his signature cupcakes, making quiches and coffee cake by the dozen at a local bakery, and teaching cooking demonstrations at Williams-Sonoma. As a 10th grader in 2016, he began documenting his favorite recipes on a blog called The After School Bakery. In college, Jeremy learned to make 50 gallons of ice cream in the food science lab, how to prune grape vines in the teaching vineyard, the best way to milk a cow in Northern Italy, and why film photography is an art worth saving. As a sophomore in 2020, he traded blog photos for video and became a TikTok culinary sensation. Jeremy has been featured on the Today show, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, BBC Radio, People, and Access Hollywood, among others. Jeremy is a graduate of Cornell University with a double major in Spanish and Italian, and significant coursework in food science. He lives in Brooklyn, NY. Learn more about Jeremy.