Red Velvet Cake

My favourite niece (okay I’ve only got one, but she’s still my favourite!) gave me a sweet book for my birthday… with a sweet title too: “Sweet Tooth” by Lily Vanilli. I had never heard of Lily before, but apparently her bakery in London is rather famous…


I chose this recipe simply because it looked pretty, and I’d been wondering what is so special about this cake – I have seen so many recipes for red velvet cake, but had never eaten a piece. Until now.

Yummy! It’s really smooth, and most definitely velvety. It’s also only slightly chocolatey, not too sweet, and the colour is very attractive too. But you can easily leave out the food colouring as the texture is, I think, the best thing about it!

Red Velvet Cake


This is Lily Vanilli’s recipe, not at all adapted! (Buy her book!)

  • 115g butter
  • 280g (caster) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbsps red food colouring
  • 325g plain flour
  • 30 cocoa powder
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 2 round cake tins or muffin pans and/or mini cake tins (I had six mini cakes and four muffins from this quantity)

Preheat oven to 180Β°C and grease/line baking tins.

Cream butter and sugar together for about 4 minutes with an electric mixer. It should be really smooth. Then add in the eggs and continue mixing. Add the food colouring and mix to combine. Sift the flour and cocoa together and add half to the mixture. Beat agin until just incorporated. Now beat in the buttermilk. Then add the rest of the flour/cocoa. Beat in, but don’t overmix.

Now the funny part – mix the bicarbonate of soda with the vinegar in a separate dish and watch it fizz! Pour over the batter and carefully fold it in – don’t beat it!

Divide between your pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on the tins you are using. (Use a toothpick to check if the middle’s done). Cool on a rack before decorating. If you’re making a cake the filling is up to you. Lily recommends cream cheese frosting. I just plopped a little whipped cream or creme fraiche with a raspberry on top!


Have you ever had red velvet cake before?

42 thoughts on “Red Velvet Cake

  1. Like you, I’ve seen recipes but not tried red velvet cake. They do look good though, the whipped cream and raspberry topping is just right. Maybe this should be a Christmas holiday bake… if I can wait that long!

    • I expect I’ll be trying a few more recipes from the book soon. I am glad I discovered what all the fuss is about when it comes to red velvet cakes! And you’re right, they do look quite festive too. πŸ˜€

    • Thank you Valorie. The book has some lovely pictures in it to drool over, and the instructions are all so clear. I’m sure to be dipping into it often!

  2. I have never tried red velvet before because I am so allergic to chocolate and colorants, but I have always wanted to try making an alternate version. You have inspired me! I am going to try this recipe tomorrow with roast carob powder and no color. I wonder what amazing (or awful) effects a bit of beet pulp would have on the color of the batter? I am not brave enough to take things that far though! Haha πŸ™‚

    • I didn’t use it this time, but have a food colouring made of dried beetroot and no additives. I think the colour isn’t so important though – apparently the chemical reaction of the vinegar and bicarb creates a slight red tinge anyway… It really is the smooth texture that blew me away!

      • I am going to search around for something similar, I think so many of the root veggies and berries out there would make amazing natural food colorings. I am really interested in this baking soda and vinegar mixture in the cake, and of course it’s final result! πŸ™‚

    • That’s another cake I have yet to try Pauline! So many cakes, so little time. LOL! I think this one is smoother than most cakes – maybe it’s the quantities or the buttermilk, I don’t know. I will definitely have to put chocolate and beetroot on my list of cakes to bake though… then I can compare them. πŸ˜€ Have a nice weekend Pauline!

  3. I havenΒ΄t heard about Red Velvet Cake. Your pictures are wonderful. Is it a shine of red given by the food colour? I would think cacao powder colour is hard to change.

    • Hi Uta. There isn’t enough cocoa to give too much colour I think, so the red tinge comes through nicely. The food colour makes a difference but I’ve heard that the mix of vinegar and bicarbonate of soda apparently adds to the effect. I might try it without food colour one day, but it does look so pretty, and festive too! Have a good weekend Uta!

  4. I’ve not heard of red velvet cake before; sadly I couldn’t make it as we don’t have buttermilk here; as to the beetroot chocolate cake that Pauline mentioned, I have had that (when I was in San Francisco) and I have a recipe but I have actually cooked it yet. It was the moistest chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted.

    • I’ll have to try making one soon. Buttermilk can be made at home. All you need to do is mix 1 cup of milk and 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice and let stand for 10 minutes! πŸ˜‰

  5. This is an American classic especially in the S and midwest. When I lived in Indiana my mom would make this from scratch….it has become a renewed favorite throughout the US now and I love it. This book intrigues me and at first I was discouraged from buying it because I am gluten free and it is in metric measure…but I can use gluten free flour possibly and I can learn to convert from metrics so I may just buy the Kindle version for fun!!

    • A lot of the recipes look quite fussy, but I shall definitely try a few more. This was such a good cake, I think Lily Vanilli knows what she’s doing! πŸ˜‰

  6. No, not until now but it certainly looks tempting (that’s your photography too!). The book is probably rich in calories ;). Just made an apple tart with raisins, nuts and Strohrum, smells delicious. Enjoy your cakes and your weekend, Cathy πŸ™‚

  7. It’s breakfast time here – I wonder if cupcakes are suitable fare? πŸ˜‰ I’ve never eaten red velvet cake before, although it seems to be rather popular at all the bakeries and restaurants at the moment. Will definitely have to give it a taste-test!

    • I have never heard of any rules saying when cupcakes are to be eaten Sheryl! πŸ˜‰ The red velvet cake hasn’t reached Germany yet, but I bet it will soon with all the recipes I keep seeing on the net!
      Have a great Sunday!

  8. I have made zillions of Red Velvet Cakes since a teenager using my great aunt’s recipe (similar to this one). My recipe has a coconut-pecan icing that I love. Your cake looks so delicious.

      • Thank you Susie! My birthday was, I confess, in October! We had so many apples and pears given to us that needed using up, so I didn’t get a chance to bake a new recipe until now. I chose the right one from the book though – loved it. Your icing sounds rather good. I have to hold back on frostings though as I’m the only one around here who really likes them! Have a lovely Sunday!

  9. A birthday? Happy birthday! The cake sounds yummy and I was wondering if this recipe is unusual for the vinegar and bicarbonate… but I guess if your recipe is similar to pbm’s great aunt’s then I guess that’s the way it’s made!
    I think what I’ve had in the past have been chocolate cakes with dye in them… nothing special in my opinion, but your post has me wanting to give it another try!

    • Thank you! Actually the birthday was over a month ago… just took me a while to choose which cake to make first! πŸ˜‰ I think there are a lot of fakes out there, just like with black forest gateaux. For the real thing I think you have to make it at home!

  10. Happy Birthday! Red velvet cake Is probably the only cake I’ve ever made from scratch. I found the recipe when I was ten or so, in an old cookbook my mom had. A red cake made with vinegar seemed terribly interesting. It came with a recipe for a cooked frosting, made with butter, sugar, flour, and vanilla. The interesting thing about traditional red velvet cake (like your recipe) is that it gets better with age: a four-day-old cake, stored properly, tastes even better than a fresh-made cake. It’s become very popular here in the states, but I have yet to taste one that’s right.

    • Thank you! I must confess the birthday was last month… I spent ages perusing this book full of tasty recipes, and we had lots of apples to use up before I tried anything else! Our cake only lasted three days… πŸ˜‰ But I noticed how it still tasted good on the third day. Maybe that’s the buttermilk that has that efffect. In any case, I’m glad I’ve discovered this classic. I hope you still make your own. Homemade is always best! πŸ˜‰ Have a great Sunday, and thanks for your comment! πŸ˜€

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