Red Velvet Cake with Butter Roux Frosting has been a tradition in my home for years. My love of Red Velvet started in the late 60’s when this cake wasn’t even popular yet. Our neighbor asked us over for cake one day and to my delight, she sliced up a beautiful red cake with fluffy white icing. Ever since then I have made Red Velvet Cake a tradition.
This page may contain affiliate links, please see my full DISCLOSURE for policy details.
Red Velvet Cake
a cake with tradition
Tradition is such a good thing. It ties us together with stories and memories, it creates a culture in families now and for future generations. So having a cake as a tradition in our home has meant Red Velvet Cake for birthdays, Christmas and weddings. We never ask for anything else.
There are so many nuances to baking the best red velvet cake. This is my neighbors’ original recipe and the results are a stunning cake that deserves to be set on a pedestal.
Red Velvet Cake flavor
What makes Red Velvet so unique is its flavor that comes from buttermilk, vanilla, cocoa powder, and vinegar that create a mild chocolate buttery flavor with a little bit of tang.
Is Red Velvet Cake a chocolate cake?
The answer is nooooo! Red Velvet Cake has a small amount of cocoa powder in it that adds flavor and aids in the red color when mixed with the buttermilk, food coloring, and vinegar. Chocolate cake does not have vinegar as an ingredient and uses more chocolate which gives it a different flavor and a different texture.
Do I need to add food coloring?
No, you don’t. The original Red Velvet Cake relied on the chemical reaction of the buttermilk, vinegar and cocoa powder for coloring. If you choose not to add food coloring your cake with be more of a mahogany color. Opt for the food color to get that classic red cake. I prefer using liquid food coloring as it mixes well with the cocoa powder.
You do have options for natural food coloring such as using beetroot powder. I have not used this but adding 1/4 cup to the cocoa powder should result in a nice red cake color.
The texture of a Red Velvet Cake
The texture is just as unique as the flavor of the cake, it is moist and tender with an amazing velvety crumb.
What type of frosting goes on a Red Velvet Cake?
I grew up with only the butter roux frosting I am using today. It’s rich and creamy and pairs well with the acidity of the cake.
Cream Cheese frosting is also used and is really more common than the butter roux.
Red Velvet Cake Ingredients
- Cake Flour – I recommend using cake flour as it is a finer flour than all-purpose and give this cake a great texture
- Shortening – I still use solid shortening, you can substitute butter
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Red food coloring – liquid food color works the best
Butter Roux Frosting Ingredients
If you are not familiar with Butter Roux Frosting it is quite different in flavor and texture than regular buttercream. You start by cooking milk and flour together to make a roux. Then add the roux to a creamed butter and sugar mixture. This frosting is sweet, buttery and smooth.
I hope by now you are craving a slice of this delightful cake.
Try these other One Hot Oven cakes for a delicious dessert
If you love pumpkin try this Spicy Pumpkin Sheet Cake with a White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting filled with warming spices we all love.
If chocolate is your thing this three-layer Chocolate Torte Cake will cure your chocolate cravings.
This Sweet Tart and Tangy Lemon Cake is moist and delicious and full of lemon flavor inside and out.
Let’s Bake A Red Velvet Cake from Scratch
There are several steps to preparing this cake recipe, meaning several bowls, but it is all worth the dirty dishes.
- The first step in making this Red Velvet Cake is mixing the cocoa powder and liquid red food coloring together. I use McCormicks that come in 1-ounce bottles.
- Beat the shortening and sugar together until it is light and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl add the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.
- To the shortening and sugar mixture alternate mixing in the flour with the salt and the buttermilk mixture.
- Mix in the cocoa powder and food coloring mixture.
- Your last step is to mix the vinegar with the baking soda then mix it into the batter until well incorporated.
- Split the batter between two 8″ square baking pans and bake for 25 minutes.
I get asked why I leave the sides of the cake unfrosted and the reason is (you guessed it) tradition. My mom didn’t frost the sides of her cake and I personally love showing off the beautiful red cake inside. And by the way, my Red Velvet cakes are always square. Tradition!
You can make this cake without any decoration and many times I simply just frost the cake with the butter roux frosting, but today roses are in order for the birthday girl.
I am including the recipes for the Red Velvet Cake, Butter Roux Frosting, and Piping Frosting.
The recipe for Classic Red Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cake with Butter Roux Frosting
Butter Roux Frosting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 8" pans with nonstick spray and parchment paper - I use square pans
- In a small bowl mix the cocoa powder and red food coloring together and set aside.
- In a large bowl beat the shortening and sugar together until fluffy.
- In another bowl mix the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla,
- To the bowl of shortening and sugar, add the flour and buttermilk mixture alternating between the two. Mix well after each addition. Add the salt
- Pour the cocoa powder mixture into the bowl and mix until combined.
- In a small bowl mix the vinegar and baking soda, then mix into the batter until combined.
- Pour the batter between the two baking pans. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on racks for before removing from pans.
Butter Roux Frosting
- In a heavy saucepan whisk the flour and milk together and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth and thick, about 10 - 14 minutes.
- Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Place a piece of plastic over the mixture. Let the mixture cool completely, about 30 - 45 minutes in the fridge This will be thick like pudding.
- Beat the sugar and butter for about 5 minutes until fluffy, then add the vanilla.
- Add the cooled flour milk mixture in thirds, beating well after each addition until smooth and creamy.
Frosting the cake
- Once the cake has fully cooled place one layer on a cake plate with the bottom facing up to get a nice flat surface then spoon the icing onto the middle of the cake. With a large icing knife spread the icing to the sides of the cake. Top with the second layer of cake, again flip the cake over and spoon the icing onto the middle of the cake and spread to the sides. To achieve the pretty scallops on the sides of the cake use a #1 icing tip to pipe rosettes around the edge of the cake.You can leave the side unfrosted if you like or frost the sides.
Perfect Piping Buttercream
- Mix the butter until smooth and fluffy, then add the cream, cornstarch, and salt.
- Scrape the bowl then add the sifted powdered sugar in batches. Beat to combine and scraping bowl occasionally.
- Add the almond extract.
- Adjust the consistency of the icing by adding more powdered sugar or more cream for your desired piping.
- Add food coloring.
- This is a crusting buttercream so keep a plastic wrap over the bowl.
This buttercream can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks or it can be frozen for six months.
Happy Birthday to my daughter Juliane who I know will be carrying on this delicious cake tradition for her family too.
Classic Red Velvet Cake
Recommendations for baking