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Velvety Rich Red Velvet Layer Cake

What is the difference between these two cakes?

The difference that food coloring makes. Credit Rikki Snyder for The New York Times

Red food coloring…

Common ingredients include buttermilk, butter, cocoa, and flour for the cake


A light-textured chocolate layer-type cake with a deep reddish-brown color. Devils food cake is usually thought of in terms of dark chocolate, but originally it was red.

My double choclately-triple layer cake, is adapted from Hershey’s Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake recipe.

When foods were rationed during World War II, bakers used boiled beet juices to enhance the color of their cakes. 


Beets are found in some red velvet cake recipes, where they also serve to keep moisture.


Red Velvet is an American classic layer cake with a subtle hint of chocolate and a “In your face” red hue that is courtesy of a large amount of red food coloring. 


The decadent frosting is a rich, soft, and fluffy white frosting that is much of the cake’s rich flavor and adds the perfect color contrast.


Red Velvet cake and its original recipe are well-known in the United States. However, it is widely considered a Southern recipe, though its origins date as far back to post-Civil War era, and from New York City’s famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. A “Brown Velvet Chocolate Cake” –- without a drop of food coloring — was popularized in the 1940s.



2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk

See image below for one of my “Money Saving Tips”

Money Saving Tip! Why buy buttermilk when all you need to do is add one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup, minus one tablespoon of milk and allow to sit for ten minutes before using.
Money Saving Tip!
Why buy buttermilk when all you need to do is add one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup, minus one tablespoon of milk and allow to sit for ten minutes before using.

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red food coloring or 1 1/2 bottles (1oz) of red food color
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar


Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
 Line bottoms of pan with parchment paper and oil and lightly flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

I accidentally oiled and floured one too many cake pans. For this recipe courtesy of Cooks County 2006 you will only need to use two round cake pans.

I accidentally oiled and floured one too many cake pans. For this recipe, courtesy of Cooks County 2006 you will only need to use two round cake pans.

For this recipe I choose to mix everything by hand. However you can do the same or use either a hand or stand mixer.


In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.


Mix cocoa powder with food coloring in small bowl until you get a smooth consistency; set aside.


In bowl beat soften butter and on medium-high until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary.


Mix together sugar, vanilla and butter/sour milk; set aside.


Mix together egg/butter mixture and sugar mixture, then in small batches add your flour and blend until you get a pancake like batter, scraping down bowl as necessary. 


 Add cocoa mixture, and beat on medium speed until completely combined, about 30 seconds.

Pour cake batter into floured cake pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool cakes to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Frosting Ingredients and Directions:


12 ounces cream cheese, cut into pieces, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch salt
4 cups confectioners’ sugar


Using a medium bowl and/or stand/hand mixer fitted, mix cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt at medium high-speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.


Add confectioners’ sugar a cup at a time and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute. Refrigerate until ready to use.


When the cakes are cooled, trim the top of the cake with a long serrated knife, to make the cake even. Note the cake you are trimming will be on the bottom.


Don’t throw out the cake you trimmed just crumble it by hand into small bits and set aside.


Spread about 1 1/2 cups frosting on one cake layer. Top with second cake layer and spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting.


Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 3 days.



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About Dish With Clarissa

Clarissa Ellis grew up learning to cook with her mom. In a time where traditional home-cooked food was going out of style, Clarissa learned to love and make those simple 'comfort foods' and family favorites. As she grew - and her mom got busier with long work hours, Clarissa supported her mom by taking over most of the cooking duties around the home. By the time Clarissa started high school - she had absorbed her mother's approach to traditional, homestyle Italian dishes; and thanks to So Cal's great weather year round... a love of cooking on the grill. Fast forward 30 years and Clarissa has never stopped cooking. She continued to explore food, learning more from So Cal's amazing cultural variety, trying things out on her family and her friends... and always learning. Never content to merely cook a good meal, Clarissa developed the habit of talking sharing her ideas with family, friends and coworkers. After a lifetime of learning and experimenting, Clarissa's love affair with traditional Italian cooking, and 'comfort foods' has grown into a robust, creative and cross-cultural approach to cooking that still manages to remain 'accessible' to the rest of us. Now Clarissa brings her experience and her approach online through her blog - giving all of us a chance give ourselves, our friends and our family the benefits of a lifetime of passion and joy in cooking simply great meals.

3 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on Chef Ceaser.


  2. This is a scrumptious recipe and thank you for the helpful tip on saving money for buttermilk, Clarissa!



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