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Red Velvet Cake

This scrumptious, moist and spongey cake is a bit of a catfish! The secret to the red is simple: no, not beetroot (although this was used during wartime rationing), it's food colouring! Red velvet is flavoured with cocoa powder, so really, it's just a plain and simple chocolate cake in a fancy jacket! Yet it tastes so much better!

There are some things you can't substitute here: Philadelphia is one of them. Store-bought and lower-fat ones just aren't the same! The frosting will be tastier, whiter and glossier by using full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese.

A lot of other recipes will also tell you that you can't substitute buttermilk. Whilst I do agree, I did make this specific cake with yoghurt and it worked great! If you can't use buttermilk, you should use milk mixed with vinegar, which curdles it. My logic was that yoghurt is already curdled milk so couldn't be that different. Yoghurt cakes are renowned for being moist, so I swapped it this time and, as I say, it was delicious.

3-tier Red Velvet Cake

Serves 16 slices

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 30 min per layer

Preheat oven to 180 degrees

Special equipment needed:

8 inch cake tin - springform is best. If you don’t have 3 of them you will need to separate the mixture into thirds. Either do this by weighing out the mixture into 3 separate parts or split the ingredients into thirds and make each layer separately.

You will also need a serrated cake or pastry knife to even out the layers. Mostly, you should just cut off a thin layer where the cake may have domed when baking.

For the cake:

175g butter (plus extra for lining the tins)

3 eggs

375ml vegetable oil

1 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

375ml buttermilk

1 tbsp red food colour

600g plain flour

3 tbsp cocoa powder (plus extra for lining the tins)

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

500g caster sugar

For the frosting:

2 tsp vanilla extract

450g icing sugar

380g plain full-fat Philadelphia (one large tub)

115g butter, (softened)

Use crumbs from the cake itself to decorate. I also added freeze-dried raspberries and cacao nibs for colour and luxury


  1. Beat together the eggs and butter until pale and fluffy

  2. Add the oil, vanilla essence, vinegar, buttermilk and colouring. Beat together.

  3. Sieve in the remaining ingredients and mix together with a spoon or baking spatula

  4. Line your cake tins with butter and cocoa powder.

  5. Split the mix evenly between the 3 cake tins and bake for 30 mins or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean

  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. Reserve any crumbs from the cake tin or that come loose!

  7. To make the frosting, beat together the Philadelphia, vanilla and butter till smooth.

  8. Sieve in the icing sugar and beat until thick

  9. To assemble, ensure you’ve levelled off any parts you need to, then place a dab of frosting onto the plate or board you will be putting the cake on and place one cake layer onto it

  10. Use a spoon to dollop the mixture onto the cake and spread it out evenly. Repeat this until all 3 layers are assembled. The top layer should have thicker icing and no crumbs should be visible.

  11. If your cake is wonky around the edges, you can even it out with your pastry knife again here.

  12. You can make the cake “naked” by applying minimal icing and smoothing it around until the cake is covered but still visible through the icing. Or you can apply more icing so that the cake is fully encased and no crumbs show.

  13. Decorate the cake by making a ring of crumbs on top of the cake. You can also add in freeze-dried raspberries, cacao nibs, cocoa powder or even sprinkles to decorate it how you like!

Below is another Red Velvet I made but decorated in something far less traditional!

Remember, anyone can cook!


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