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The Tuesday Treat: Red Velvet Cake

For an explanation of The Tuesday Treat, see here.

Red Velvet Cake, adapted from “The Confetti Cakes Cookbook,” by Elisa Strauss, via the New York Times

When I offered to bake Miss RJ’s 6th birthday cupcakes, I suggested chocolate cupcakes topped with strawberry buttercream – who could resist that combination? But the birthday girl had something else in mind, and, it being her birthday and all, I happily complied and made red velvet cupcakes as requested. I’m glad I did, too.

This recipe is a whopper, and produces a huge amount of cake. In this instance I baked half of the batter as cupcakes and topped each with a dollop simple vanilla buttercream (we later adorned them with sparkly sprinkles); I baked the other half in a 7-inch pan and filled and frosted it with cream cheese frosting (as the original recipe calls for, and which is my preference). I’ve also baked this into a towering three-layer cake that is deliciously decadent – the possibilities are pretty endless.

Makes one 9-inch, 3-layer cake, or 2 dozen cupcakes.

3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring (note: I used one bottle; I think it’s 1 ounce)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3 round 9-inch layer cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.

Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt together in a bowl.

Place oil and sugar in a large bowl and whisk or blend until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add red food coloring and vanilla and mix carefully. Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 6 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.


  1. Wow. That’s a lot of food coloring. Where do you even buy that much? Is it really safe to eat?

    Otherwise, it looks quite yummy. My daughters rave over red velvet cake, so I know they’d like it if I make one for a family dinner.

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