This Red Velvet Layer Cake is the moistest, most tender 3-layer cake with cream cheese frosting. It's made in 2 bowls with a whisk, requires simple ingredients, and is fool-proof! This classic cake is a crowd favorite and is sure to impress at any gathering or celebration!
Why You NEED This Cake
- Accessible Ingredients: Every ingredient in this cake is simple, easy to find, well-known, and likely already in your pantry
- Simple Preparation: You'll need two bowls and a whisk to whip up this cake
- Moist & Tender: This cake is melt-in-your mouth light, so moist, and genuinely has the BEST fluffy texture
- Crowd-Favorite: This cake has deep flavor, the smoothest cream cheese frosting, and is a CLASSIC
Red Velvet Cake Ingredients
- All Purpose Flour: Simply, you'll need plain, white all purpose flour for this cake. Make sure to measure the flour properly by using a kitchen scale or by spooning the flour into your measuring cups. To learn more on this, read "Expert Tips & Tricks" below.
- Baking Soda & Baking Powder: These are two of the most important ingredients in this recipe. The two work together to help the cake rise. Do not substitute one for the other and measure properly.
- Salt: Salt completes the flavor in this cake!
- Cocoa Powder: You'll need ⅓ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder. I use natural cocoa powder.
- Vegetable Oil: Vegetable oil creates moisture that lasts in this cake. You can substitute for any unflavored oil if necessary.
- Eggs: For this recipe, you need 3 large eggs at room temperature. If you forget to put them out on the counter ahead of time, put them in a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes before using.
- Granulated Sugar: Granulated, white sugar adds moisture, structure, and sweetness to this cake!
- Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract rounds out the flavor in this cake and helps to create the classic red velvet you know and love.
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk is SO important in this recipe, as it creates the light and tender texture and red velvet flavor. You'll need it at room temperature. Read "Expert Tips & Tricks" to learn how to make a homemade buttermilk.
- Distilled Vinegar: Distilled vinegar reacts with the buttermilk, baking soda, and food coloring to create the slightly tangy flavor and deepened color in this cake.
- Red Food Coloring: Red Velvet Layer Cake will need a touch of red food coloring for a true and deep red color. I use Americolor Super Red, as just a few drops creates a dark red.
Classic red velvet cake is made of a touch of unsweetened cocoa powder, buttermilk, vinegar, and red food dye. Without each of these ingredients, red velvet simply isn't red velvet.
Red velvet cake has a hint of chocolate flavor from unsweetened cocoa powder. However, it has a distinct tangy flavor from buttermilk and vinegar. The taste may be hard to describe, but it is truly unforgettable!
This red velvet cake is incredibly moist and soft. This is from the incorporation of vegetable oil rather than butter. Vegetable oil creates a deeper and long-lasting moisture.
Stacking & Decorating Layer Cake
Stacking and decorating a layer cake can be intimidating... I totally get it! However, here are few tips and tricks to help you make a cake that won't cause you years of stress!
- Wait to start until the cakes have cooled: If there's one thing you take away from this post, it's that you should absolutely wait for the cakes to cool for at least 30 minutes before attempting to take them out of the pans and wait to stack and decorate until they are completely cooled. You will end up with a wobbly, fragile, and messy cake if you try to assemble it when warm.
- Decorate the cakes on a completely flat surface: Though your grandma's favorite cake plate may be great for displaying, if you can decorate the cake on a cake round, turntable, or other flat surface, it will make it so much easier to create a firmer structure and more even layer of frosting.
- Level your cakes if desired: If you notice that your cakes have huge, round domes, it might be worth your time to flatten them out. This means that your cake will be easier to decorate, firmer in structure, and will not be angled on top. To level your cakes, you can use a specific leveling tool or simply take a serrated knife to cut evenly across the top of the cake to remove the dome.
- Apply a crumb coat: If you have some extra space in your freezer and 10 extra minutes, this tip can make all the difference! After stacking your cakes, completely coat the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting. Only use enough to cover any naked parts of the cake. Pop the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes. Then, frost as desired. This crumb coat locks in the crumbs and firms up with cake without drying it out. It will make it so much easier to decorate!
Expert Tips & Tricks
Measuring Flour: This cake is moist, light, fluffy, and tender. However, you will end up with dry, crumbly cake if you do not measure your flour correctly. If you do not use a kitchen scale to measure ($10), you NEED to spoon the flour into your measuring cups. To do this, simply use a spoon to carry flour into your measuring cups before using a knife to sweep the flour across the top in order to level/ even the flour.
Homemade Buttermilk: This recipe relies on the use of buttermilk. If you do not have buttermilk on hand, you can make a homemade version. Simply add 1 ½ tablespoons (22g) of distilled vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. Pour room temperature milk into the measuring cup to reach the 1 ½ cup (360g) mark. Use a spoon to mix the mixture before letting it sit for 5-10 minutes, allowing the milk to become slightly chunky in texture.
Cooling Cakes: Regardless of how rushed you are, do not remove the cakes from the pan until they have had at least 30 minutes to cool. The cakes will break if they are still warm, and this is irreversible and will make decorating 100x more difficult. From there, do not begin stacking and frosting the cakes until the cakes have fully cooled. The frosting will melt off of the cake and the cake's structure will not be secure whatsoever.
This 3 layer red velvet cake is moist, light, and so tender. Made with simple, accessible ingredients and with one whisk, it will be your new go-to recipe for all gatherings and events.
For the Red Velvet Cake
- 2 ½ cups (350g) all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 1 teaspoon (5g) baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (6g) salt
- ⅓ cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 ¼ cups (250g) vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs (150g), room temperature
- 2 cups (430g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon (4g) vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups (360g) buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon (14g) distilled vinegar
- red food gel, as desired
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups (440g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 oz (22g) brick cream cheese, room temperature
- 5 cups (600g) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon (4g) vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon (15g) heavy whipping cream
For the Red Velvet Cake
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 3 8-inch round pans with cooking spray and line with parchment paper to ensure the cakes come out cleanly.
- In a medium-sized bowl, use a whisk to mix all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and unsweetened cocoa powder together until combined.
- In a large bowl, use a whisk to mix vegetable oil, room temperature eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and room temperature buttermilk together until smooth.
- Add dry ingredients to your wet ingredients and use a whisk to combine. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula to ensure the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Add vinegar and a few drops of red food coloring as desired. Try to mix the batter as few tim
- Divide the batter between the 3 pans, around 500-550 grams of batter per pan if you are using a kitchen scale. Ensuring that there is a relatively even amount of batter in each pan is incredibly important. Your cakes may be over
- Bake for 22-28 minutes or until the tops of the cake are firm, a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, and the tops spring back quickly when poked with your pointer finger in the center. Overbaking will lead to dry cake and underbaking will create gooey, sunken layers.
- Allow the cakes to cool for at least 30 minutes in the pans before removing and allowing to finish cooling on a wire cooling rack or plate. Prepare frosting while the cakes cool.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in the bowl of your stand mixer that is fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese together until smooth, about 3-4 minutes on medium speed.
- Slowly, add powdered sugar on low speed to prevent the powdered sugar from creating a huge mess. Beat powdered sugar into the mixture until smooth and creamy.
- Pour vanilla extract and heavy whipping cream into the frosting and mix on high speed for 3 minutes. This creates a whiter, creamier, and smoother frosting.
- Once the cakes have fully cooled, level the tops if desired using a leveling tool or serrated knife to remove the domes and flatten the surface. This will create a sturdier, more even cake.
- Place one layer of cake on your decorating surface. Use a knife to spread frosting as desired on top
- Take the second layer of cake and place it upside down on top of the frosting. Top the second layer with frosting. Repeat the process with the third layer.
- Crumb coat the cake if desired. Read “Stacking and Decorating Layer Cake” above for more information. If decorating immediately, use the remaining frosting to cover the cake.
- Store the cake at room temperature covered or in an airtight container for up to 2 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days. The entire cake or individual cake slices can be wrapped in cling wrap and frozen for up to 4 months.
Keywords: Cream Cheese Frosting, Red Velvet Layer Cake, 3 Layer Cake, Red Velvet Cake, Moist Cake