Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

Serves: 10-12 Ready in: 1 1/2 hrs + overnight cooling

Red velvet cake has become very fashionable. The contrast between the cream coloured frosting and the striking red tinted interior makes it a serious contender as show- off cakes go. Buttermilk makes the batter very tender and I think its key to making a great red velvet cake. You need electric beaters or a mixer for this recipe, make it a day ahead for best results.

Important information about Red Food colouring

Liquid red food colouring has an evil bitter aftertaste when used in any quantity and Red Velvet cake is all about the shocking red hiding under its creamy white cloak of frosting.  You can purchase Wilton “No Taste Red” Gel colouring from cake decorating suppliers. It’s very concentrated so around 2 ½ tsp will colour the cake. I find the traditional liquid red colour makes a brighter more RED red as long as you don’t exceed 2 tbsp which will ruin the flavour of the cake. You can use a combination of both if you have them or if you prefer not to consume colouring you can omit it without affecting the flavour of the cake in any way – it just won’t be a “red” velvet cake.


  • 375g plain flour
  • 3tbsp cocoa sifted
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 175g butter
  • 450g sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp red food colouring or 2 tsp  Wilton “No Taste Red colouring gel” – see cooks tips
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp vinegar
  • 90g Kremelta or Copha, at room temperature – (vegetable shortening)
  • 90g butter, at room temperature
  • 3 ½ cups icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 150g full fat cream cheese


      Grease and line a 20 cm loose bottom cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

      In a large bowl beat the butter until soft then add the sugar and beat well, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and beat the mixture until it is pale and light.

      In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk, food colouring, vanilla and cocoa mixing well.

      Add the flour and the butter milk/cocoa/ colouring mixture alternately, folding it in gently but thoroughly.

      In a small bowl mix the baking soda and vinegar and fold into the cake batter quickly while it’s still fizzing. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 11/2 hours, or until risen and springy and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin. 

      To make the frosting
      Beat the Kremelta and butter together until fluffy, don’t skimp at this stage; allow 4 minutes with an electric beater (set the timer if necessary, beating is like exercising or listening to a crying baby, it always seems longer than it actually is).

      Add the icing sugar, 1 cup at time, mixing well after each addition, then add the milk.

      Put the cream cheese in a bowl and beat with the beaters until soft then add it to the butter cream and beat until well mixed in. I don’t worry about washing the beaters in between the cream cheese and butter cream as all ends up mixed together.

      To frost and fill the cake:
      Working from the centre out; spread the two middle layers with frosting and stack one on top of the other on a plate or cake stand.
      Add the third layer.  Placing a large quantity of frosting on the top and with a spatula or palette knife begin working it gently over the top and towards the edges, adding more frosting to the middle and working it out and down the sides. Don’t attempt to plaster it onto the sides; working from the middle out and then down reduces the potential for crumbs to find their way into the frosting and spoil its appearance.
      Smooth the frosting over the sides, and when the whole cake is covered, dip the spatula in hot water and dry it, then run the flat side of the spatula around the cake sides, this will smooth the frosting. Chill in the fridge to set the frosting.  


      The cake will be firmer and easier to slice into 3 layers if you store in the fridge overnight.


      You have successfully subscribed!