Welcome to my kitchen, where I specialize in southern-style cuisine. Today, I want to share with you one of my all-time favorite desserts – the authentic Southern Red Velvet Cake recipe. The secret to this classic masterpiece is a perfect balance of moist red velvet layers infused with a rich cream cheese frosting that’s guaranteed to elevate any occasion.
This iconic dessert has been around for decades and has become a symbol of southern hospitality and indulgence. It was first introduced at the renowned Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York during the 1920s, and since then, it has made its way into the hearts of people all over the world.
Now, I know there are many variations of this delicious treat out there, but trust me when I say that nothing beats the original recipe. This recipe boasts a perfect combination of flavors and textures that will have your guests asking for seconds.
So go ahead and get ready to indulge in a little slice of southern heaven. Follow me as we journey through the steps required to make this incredible dessert come to life in your very own kitchen!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Y’all, let me tell you why you’re going to love this Southern Red Velvet Cake recipe. First of all, it’s perfect for any occasion—you can’t go wrong with a classic Southern dessert like this. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, bringing a dessert to a potluck, or just treating yourself after a long week, this cake is sure to hit the spot.
But beyond its versatility, there’s something truly special about red velvet cake. Maybe it’s the hint of cocoa powder giving it that subtle chocolate flavor or the touch of vinegar that adds extra richness to each bite. Or maybe it’s just the stunning visual appeal of the deep red color contrasted with the fluffy white cream cheese frosting.
Whatever it is, this cake has been beloved in the South for generations. In fact, one of the earliest known red velvet cake recipes comes from the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City, but true Southerners know that this classic dessert truly belongs to our region.
And best of all? This recipe is made completely from scratch. No shortcuts or box mixes here—just real ingredients and old-fashioned techniques. Trust me when I say that your taste buds will thank you for taking the time to make this cake properly.
So whether you’re a born and bred Southerner or just love indulging in some classic Southern cooking, I guarantee that this Southern Red Velvet Cake recipe will become a staple in your baking repertoire.
Before starting any recipe, a glance at the ingredient list is essential. In order to make the tasty Southern Red Velvet Cake, we’ll need specific ingredients that are easy to get from any grocery store. The following list includes everything required to prepare this recipe:
- 2½ cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Red Velvet Color:
- 2 tablespoons red food coloring
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
- 8 oz cream cheese (at room temperature)
- ½ cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
### Optional Toppings:
Make sure to have all the ingredients on hand so you don’t skip anything later on.
The Recipe How-To
Now that we have gathered all our ingredients and tools, let’s dive right into the fun part – making the red velvet cake! Follow these steps so that you can impress your friends and family with a delicious, moist, and classic southern red velvet cake.
Mixing the Dry Ingredients
Before we start mixing anything together, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease two 9-inch cake pans with butter or baking spray. In a large bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups of cake flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Sifting ensures that the flour is light and airy which makes the cake lighter as well. Whisk together until all ingredients are fully combined and set this bowl aside.
Mixing the Wet Ingredients
In another large bowl, cream 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter at room temperature using an electric mixer for about 2 minutes until it is light and fluffy. Gradually add in 2 cups of white granulated sugar and continue to beat for an additional 5-7 minutes until the mixture is well combined incorporating minimal air as possible, otherwise your cake can collapse after baking. Now add in the eggs one at a time followed by 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder mix well until it’s fully incorporated into the mixture. Mix in the food coloring which should be about one tablespoon to give it that typical red color that characterizes red velvet cakes.
Combining Both Mixtures
Now blend both mixtures together alternately with buttermilk, starting with dry ingredients and ending with dry too. Add in a mixture made from mixing one teaspoon of vanilla extract with one tablespoon of white distilled vinegar giving it flavourful depth.
Take care not overmixing because too much mixing produces gluten which when baked makes dense cakes.
Baking the Cake
Now it’s time to pour the mixture into the greased pans and bake the cakes for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. This baking time can vary depending on the oven, so do check on it regularly.
Once the cakes are fully baked remove them from oven and let them cool in pans for about 10 minutes before transferring them onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Making the Cream Cheese Frosting
While waiting for your cake to cool down it’s time to start working on the cream cheese frosting. In a large bowl, cream together 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter with 16 ounces of softened cream cheese until it`s soft, light, and fluffy. Now add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and gradually add a 4 cups confectioners’ sugar in slowly mixing mode beat for an additional minute until fluffy.
Assembling Your Cake
Congratulation! your cakes have now cooled completely you can spread an even layer of frosting onto one cake
Substitutions and Variations
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to put your own spin on the classic Southern Red Velvet Cake, there are plenty of substitutions and variations you can make. One popular variation is to add chopped pecans to the batter for additional texture and flavor. Another option is to use a different frosting, such as a whipped cream frosting or a buttercream frosting with a hint of lemon.
If you’re looking for healthier options, you can substitute some of the cake ingredients with healthier alternatives. For example, you can use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil and whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. You can also reduce the amount of sugar and use honey or maple syrup instead.
For those who are not a fan of red velvet cake but still want to enjoy the delicious cream cheese frosting, try making this recipe with chocolate or vanilla cake instead. Additionally, you can experiment with different food colorings in place of red food coloring to create unique colors and flavors.
If you want to switch up the presentation, try baking this recipe in a bundt pan for a beautiful and classic look. You could also make cupcakes instead of a full-size cake for individual portions.
No matter what substitutions or variations you choose, be sure to keep an eye on baking times and adjust them accordingly as needed. The beauty of this recipe is that it’s versatile enough to adapt to your personal preferences while still producing a moist and delectable cake worthy of its Southern roots.
Serving and Pairing
Now for the fun part – serving and pairing your Southern Red Velvet Cake! This velvety, moist cake is perfect for any occasion, whether it’s a family get-together, a birthday celebration, or a holiday feast.
To elevate the rich cocoa flavor of this cake, I recommend pairing it with a bold red wine such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannins in these wines will complement the richness of the cake without overpowering it. If you prefer something sweeter, try pairing your Southern Red Velvet Cake with a glass of port wine. The sweetness of the port will balance out the bitterness of the cocoa in the cake.
For a non-alcoholic option, you can’t go wrong with a hot cup of coffee or a glass of milk. The creaminess of the milk will contrast nicely with the texture of the cake.
When serving your cake, consider topping it with chopped pecans for some added crunch and texture. Alternatively, you can sprinkle some confectioners’ sugar on top for a touch of sweetness.
This cake is also versatile when it comes to serving sizes. You can opt for a traditional layer cake, bundt cake, or cupcakes. Layer cakes are perfect for larger gatherings where you want to impress your guests with an elegant dessert. Bundt cakes are an excellent option if you’re looking for something more casual but still impressive. Cupcakes are perfect for individual servings and make great party favors.
Overall, your Southern Red Velvet Cake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser no matter how you choose to serve it. So go ahead and indulge in this classic southern treat!
Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating
Making a red velvet cake from scratch is a labor of love, so it’s tempting to make it ahead. The good news is that this Southern Red Velvet Cake can be made up to two days before you plan to serve it. To store the cake, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
When reheating the cake, take it out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving to bring it to room temperature. This will help the cream cheese frosting soften and will make for easier slicing.
If you’re planning on making the cake more than two days in advance, you can freeze it instead. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. Freeze for up to three months. When you’re ready to use it, thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator.
Be careful when removing the cake from the freezer because condensation will form on the plastic wrap and could damage the frosting while unwrapping.
Whether you choose to store your cake in the refrigerator or freezer, one thing is certain: It will taste just as moist and delicious as when you first made it. Enjoy your Southern Red Velvet Cake any day of the week, whether freshly baked or thawed out from frozen!
Tips for Perfect Results
When it comes to making a Southern Red Velvet Cake, there are a few crucial tips that can help ensure that the cake turns out perfectly moist and velvety. As a chef specializing in southern cuisine, I have learned some tricks of the trade that can help you avoid common mistakes and achieve great results every time.
Firstly, make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. This includes the eggs, butter, buttermilk, and cream cheese. If these ingredients are too cold, they won’t mix together evenly and can ruin the texture of your cake.
Another essential step is properly sifting the dry ingredients before adding them to the mixture. This helps to remove any lumps and ensures that the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and baking powder are evenly distributed in the batter.
When mixing the batter, be careful not to overmix it. Overmixing can cause the gluten in the flour to develop too much and make the cake dense instead of fluffy. Mix until all ingredients are combined evenly but don’t go beyond that.
One thing to keep in mind when adding red food coloring is to add it incrementally. A little goes a long way, so measure it out one tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired color. Also, using gel-based food coloring produces brighter colors than liquid food coloring which could dilute the mixture.
To prevent sticking to the pan or muffin cups, use non-stick spray or line with parchment paper or cupcake liners. Grease the pan first then dust with flour (or cocoa for chocolate cakes) because except for its practical purpose (avoid sticking), it will also give a good flavor on every bite particularly on edges.
Lastly, don’t try frost your cake straight from the oven. It has to be completely cool before frosting it so that frosting can set perfectly over each layer of cake. And if you are frosting with cream cheese frosting in particular, make sure the cake is refrigerated overnight or at least 4 hours before you cake it.
These tips will go a long way in ensuring your Southern Red Velvet Cake turns out perfectly every time. So, go ahead and get baking with confidence!
As with most recipes, there may be some questions that come up while attempting to make the perfect Southern Red Velvet Cake. To make sure you’re prepared for any uncertainties or challenges, I’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions and their respective answers to help guide you through the process. So, let’s dive in!
Is red velvet cake a Southern cake?
The recipe for the renowned Waldorf-Astoria cake is popularly known from New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel; nevertheless, the cake is commonly regarded as a traditional Southern delicacy.
Why do you put vinegar in red velvet cake?
Red Velvet Cake is more than just a simple chocolate cake with red food coloring. Traditionally, buttermilk and vinegar are used in the recipe to enhance the natural red tones found in cocoa powder. Apart from the distinct color, these ingredients also help in breaking down the gluten in the flour to create a softer and delicate texture.
Why is red velvet cake Southern?
Red Velvet Cake has become a beloved dessert in the South due to a specific ingredient found in the region. Buttermilk has been added to the recipe, which enhances the cake’s natural tanginess and acidity. With the inclusion of cocoa powder that was commonly used during the 1920s and 1930s, the cake obtained its distinct red coloring.
What makes red velvet cake taste different?
The unique taste of red velvet cake is attributed to a combination of ingredients such as buttermilk, vinegar, cocoa powder, and cream cheese frosting. However, certain recipes call for minimal amounts of cocoa powder, resulting in a subtle chocolate flavor.
In conclusion, this southern-style red velvet cake recipe is truly a classic, beloved by many for its moist texture and rich, chocolatey flavor. With its origins dating back to the famed Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City, this recipe has been perfected over time to become the ultimate velvety dessert.
This recipe captures the irresistible flavors of the South, making it a must-try for anyone who loves creamy and indulgent cakes. With simple ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, you can whip up this sensational cake at home with no hassle. Plus, you can easily switch things up by adding pecans or other toppings to your liking.
So go ahead and indulge in a slice of this delectable southern red velvet cake today. You won’t regret it!
Southern Red Velvet Cake Recipe
- vegetable oil, for the pans
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons red food coloring (1oz)
- 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream cheese frosting
- 1 lb cream cheese, softened
- 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- crushed pecans (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 (9 by 1 1/2-inch round) cake pans.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
- Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.
- Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.
- Frost the cake. Place 1 layer, rounded-side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand. Using a palette knife or offset spatula spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. (Spread enough frosting to make a 1/4 to 1/2-inch layer.) Carefully set another layer on top, rounded-side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle the top with the pecans.
- Cream Cheese Frosting: In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)
- Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally). Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
- Yield: enough to frost a 3 layer (9-inch) cake.