Happy 4 Year Blogoversary to me!!! If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, you should already know that I make something wacky with red velvet every year to celebrate the anniversary of my blog. Well this year, I decided to go CLASSIC. Yup, that’s right, I said it! Classic! I’m crazy, right?!? Don’t worry, I’m not getting soft on you (wait until you read the recipe) but this cake is one of the original reasons that I am the food obsessed blogger that you all know today. Growing up, there was one cake that my Savtah always made for special occasions or when we begged her to make it. She had 18 grandchildren so you can imagine how much she must have loved when we asked her to make her classic red velvet cake (and meringues, hazen-bluzzen or mandelbrodt). My Savtah was definitely THE original foodie and she has passed down her love of food to her children, grand-children and even her great-grandchildren, who are featured in this post as 4th-generation red velvet cake bakers and eaters.

Check out that color! Red velvet cake gets it’s name from the red food coloring that is mixed together with cocoa powder to create this intense hue and original flavor. This is by no means a chocolate cake that is just colored red. Red velvet has it’s own distinct texture and flavor that cannot even be compared to any other cake. It stands alone!

It worked out well that my older sister (the professional baker) was in town when I made this cake so she coached me through (perfect project for a snow day, right??? My kids didn’t even change out of their pajamas). I’ve made this cake once before but it was so long ago and I remember screwing it up…so it was great to have her helping me out and giving me tons of great tips that I am sharing with you today! You will definitely not screw up this cake if you follow the directions. There are a few intimidating steps but I broke them down so you don’t have to worry. By the way, my family makes this cake dairy free and in fact, I’ve never even tasted it as a dairy cake. The recipe at the bottom of the post has dairy and non-dairy options so feel free to make it however you want.

THIS frosting! This beautiful, creamy, white, fluffy, rich and incomparable frosting! I beg of you not to cover this cake with cream cheese frosting or cut any corners with store-bought buttercream. Please, I beg of you, give this frosting a try! It is basically the best frosting I’ve ever had and it belongs on red velvet cake. You can call it “old-fashioned”, “boiled icing” or even “buttercream” but it is so unique and deserves a try.

My sister frosted my cake. Thanks, Franko!

How pretty is this cake?!? I told you the frosting was light and fluffy! You can decorate with sprinkles, pecans or chocolate chips or you can keep it simple with just frosting (my sister almost killed me for topping it with heart sprinkles).

We had a little fun with the photo shoot. Chalk boards, granite, lighting and heated sharp knives for clean, smooth cake cutting.

 4th generation red velvet cake baker and my favorite model.

Gratuitous cake shot!

And another one…because how could you NOT want to eat this cake?!? My sister had to wait an hour to eat this slice while I took photos for this post! Totally worth it!

My little foodie prefers savory to sweet but she devoured this cake!

Classic Red Velvet Cake with Old-Fashioned White Frosting

Red Velvet Cake
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter (or margarine)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 oz. red food coloring
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 7 oz. dairy-free milk + 2 Tbsp lemon juice)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
Old-Fashioned White Frosting
  • 7½ Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups milk (or dairy-free milk)
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1½ cups unsalted butter (or margarine)
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt

Red Velvet Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line three 8-inch round pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Cream together the sugar, margarine and eggs in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until smooth and creamy.
  3. Stir together the cocoa powder and red food coloring into a paste then add to the batter and mix to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the dairy-free milk (such as soy milk or almond milk) and lemon juice to create buttermilk (you can also just use buttermilk to make this cake dairy).
  5. In another bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the wet and dry ingredients alternating three times, beginning with the flour mixture and ending with the buttermilk mixture.
  6. In a small bowl, pour the vinegar over the baking soda (it will foam up) and stir to combine. Immediately pour the mixture into the batter and mix on low speed for 30 seconds.
  7. Pour the batter into the pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the center is fully cooked through. Leave in pans until cool and ready to ice.
  8. *tip: for a more dense fine-crumb cake, as soon as the hot cakes comes out of the oven, press down on the cakes using a paper towel and apply even-pressure. This is the way I prefer my classic red velvet cake.
Old-Fashioned White Frosting
  1. While the cakes are cooling, whisk together the flour and milk in a small pot with the heat off. Turn the heat to medium-low and whisk constantly until the mixture is thick and paste-like. When the mixture comes to a low-boil, turn heat to low and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes. This will take around 10 minutes. Your mixture should NEVER reach a medium boil.
  2. Remove from the heat, pour into a small bowl and cover the surface of the paste directly with plastic wrap. Cool to room temperature on the counter.
  3. When the paste is room temperature (and at this point the cakes should be as well), cream together the sugar, margarine, vanilla and salt in your stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Add the paste, turn the mixer to high speed and beat the frosting for at least 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Assembling the Red Velvet Cake
  1. Place one cake on a platter or cake board and dollop at least a ½ cup of the frosting on the cake. Spread evenly then top with a second layer of cake and repeat this process until all three layers of cake are stacked and covered with frosting. Use the remaining frosting to decorate as you please.
  2. NOTE: I prefer to refrigerate Red Velvet Cake and eat it right out of the fridge while it’s still cold. This is the way I grew up eating it. This cake can be stored on the counter but not in a hot kitchen, or the frosting will separate. Go for the fridge!