This is no doubt the BEST Red velvet Cake recipe ever! It consists of 2 layers of moist and tender red velvet sponges with bright red colour and their chocolate flavour is beautifully balanced with a delicious and airy cream cheese mousse. This is the ultimate Red velvet cake recipe you have to try! Definitely a must recipe for Valentine´s day but can be a showstopper dessert any time of the year!
Seriously, I never understood the fuss about Red velvet cakes until I developed this recipe that has a super fluffy texture, smooth chocolate and cream cheese flavour but also balanced in sweetness compared to other Red velvet cakes. I always found Red velvet cakes dense, boring and overly sweet… well not this one! If you are looking for a light and airy Red velvet cake recipe, you found the One!
What is Red velvet cake?
Red velvet cake is a traditionally redish coloured chocolate cake with cream cheese icing. A Red velvet cake recipe is usually made with a combination of buttermilk, butter, cocoa, vinegar, flour and baking soda. Its red colour nowadays enhanced with natural or artificial food colouring – either way it is a perfect contrast with the white cream cheese frosting. Red velvet cake is easily one of the most popular celebration cakes thanks it its mild chocolate taste, light cream cheese icing and dramatic red look!
This Red velvet cake recipe is a lighter version of traditional Red velvet cakes. What makes this Red velvet cake recipe particularly amazing is the cream cheese mousse filling that tastes thousands times better and way more lighter and fluffier than traditional buttercream. Let´s start, shall we?
My Top 5 Baking Tips for home bakers
- Read the recipe carefully including my tips and recommendations on how to avoid and fix typical issues during making this Red velvet cake
- Avoid using substitutes and changing the recipe unless you are aware of how to fully reformulate the recipe in order to keep the balance in texture as well as flavour. Reducing sugar, replacing egg, using milk instead of cream, using poor quality chocolate etc. will all have an impact on your baking
- For consistent, happy baking experience always measure your ingredients with the help of a Digital scale. Cup measurement is provided as an indicative figure only and might be used for less complex and large batch recipes however it is not an appropriate method for more delicate, complex pastries
- Did you know that most home ovens can significantly under or oven run? Also, oven temperature hugely drops when opening the oven door therefore it is recommended to always pre-heat the oven above the required baking temperature.
- Temperature is so important when it comes to baking and accurate oven temperature is key, can make or break any recipe. Make sure you invest into an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to avoid under baked, burnt, sad looking Red velvet cake
Some important notes regarding the INGREDIENTS of this Red velvet cake recipe
For the red velvet sponge
- Butter: Use always unsalted as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. In am using 82% fat content butter in all my recipes. In this Red velvet cake recipe butter needs to be at room temperature which technically means soft enough to be able to cream but not too soft or runny so avoid last minute microwaving
- Sugar: Standard, all purpose granulated or white sugar is perfectly fine in this, nothing fancy. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here
- Egg: Room temperature as always. You will need one egg and one yolk, the extra yolk makes the red velvet sponge even creamier
- Flour: All purpose flour or pastry flour makes the best cakes. They are so called “soft flour” which are low on protein resulting in delicate, tender texture. If you want to be a Pro when it comes to deciding what type of flour to use in your baking, please read my article in here
- Salt: Essential ingredient in almost all recipes especially when it comes to chocolate cake
- Baking soda: Any Red velvet cake recipe requires baking soda and vinegar to achieve the best, moist results. Has two functions: increase the volume and lighten the texture. Baking soda becomes activated when it’s combined with both an acidic liquid, like vinegar.
- White vinegar: See above while we need vinegar next to the baking soda. Don´t worry, the cake won´t taste vinegar at all
- Milk: Use the milk at room temp, I prefer whole milk
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Generally always use unsweetened, 100% cocoa powder in baking. I always use dutch-process cocoa powder, it has a lovely dark colour and it is lower in acidity however in this Red cake recipe if you have non dutch-processed (that is lighter) unsweetened cocoa powder, it is even better. As mentioned above red velvet cake is generally a mild chocolate cake however you will need to balance the cocoa powder in this recipe and achieve the “sweet spot” – meaning when the cake already has chocolate flavour but the cocoa powder does not overpower the red colour. It is difficult to give exact measurement as it depends on strength and quality of the cocoa powder AND red food coloring you are using so you will need somewhat your own judgement
- Colouring: You will need some sort of food coluring to make any Red velvet cake recipe. Beetroot powder can be used as a natural alternative however it won´t give as bright color as gel food colourings. In terms of brands, I used Silikomart here, try to chose a high quality concentrated gel or it won’t make it red enough. In terms of quantity, it is hard to give measurements when it comes to food colouring since it largely depends on the brands available in your country. As a general rule start with small amount like one teaspoon then increase gradually. If your batter before baking has a bright red colour, it should be colourful enough after baking, see my process picture later
For the cream cheese mousse
- Gelatine: It´s an odorless, tasteless and colorless thickening agent, very often used by pastry chefs particularly in mousse cakes. Powder or sheet versions are available, in my recipes I always use sheet (1,7 g / sheet), which I found easier to handle. Simple soak the gelatine sheet into cold water for a few minutes before you need them and use it according to the recipe. Please note that gelatine is derived from collagen taken from animal body parts therefore not suitable for vegetarians. Agar agar can be a good substitution for vegetarians however replacing gelatin with agar agar is not 1:1 and can only be done by reformulating the recipe slightly.
- Heavy cream: Also known as whipping cream, has a fat content between 36% and 40% (I always use 36%) . Use it very cold and do not substitute with vegetable based “whipping cream”. Heavy cream will make the filling extra smooth and creamy, effectively a mousse like consistency. While whipping cream you have to start on low speed then gradually increase. Once reached the right consistency (in this case soft peaks) stop whipping otherwise it will go into stiff peaks which makes it difficult to fold with the rest of the ingredients
- Granulated sugar: I use simple, white granulated sugar, nothing fancy . While heating it up with cream make sure the sugar granulates fully dissolve. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here.
- Lemon juice: Use freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Cream cheese: A not too sweet cream cheese mousse is the hero in this Red velvet cake recipe! I always use full fat Philadelphia when I state cream cheese in my recipes. I find it easy to cream (need to bring it to room temperature first) and very pleasant in taste. I usually beat it with a hand mixer for less than a minute, just until it becomes fluffy and increases a bit in volume. Please avoid over whipping
- Vanilla bean paste: Avoid using artificial vanilla. There are several great brands for fine, pure vanilla, I use Nielsen massey which I love and really recommend
My top 5 tips regarding the TECHNIQUE of making this Red velvet cake recipe
1. How to make red velvet sponge
This Red velvet recipe follows the traditional method using vinegar and baking soda beside classic cake ingredients like flour, egg, sugar. You will need also cocoa powder and red food coloring that are traditionally used in any Red velvet cake recipe. Red velvet cake typically has a mild chocolate flavour due to the cocoa powder however we can´t add too much of it as that would make it difficult to colour the cake batter into red. All in all this Red velvet cake base is a wonderful and easy cake recipe worth trying. Super moist, fluffy with velvety crumb, not too sweet, incredible delicious. It is also easy to prepare, key is not to overwork the batter.
- Grease baking pans (I am using 2 x 18 cm / 7 inches pan )
- Pre-heat oven to 180 C / 356 F
- Ingredients must be all measures with a Digital scale
- Eggs must be on room temperature
- Cream soft butter with sugar until fluffy
- Mix in egg
- Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl (milk, food colouring, vinegar)
- Sift dry ingredients together into another bowl (flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder)
- Fold in wet and dry ingredients into the egg butter mixture in the following 4 steps: wet – dry – wet – dry
- Add more red colourings, if needed, but please make sure you use a concentrated, high quality gel food colouring so you won´t need to add too much to achieve the desired colour
- Pour cake batter into prepared baking pans (2 x 18 cm / 7 inches pan) and bake for 20 minutes. Divide the cake batter by using a digital scale so they will be identical in weight / height.
- Do not open the oven door during baking. After 20 minutes check the middle of the cake with a toothpick . Bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let them cool on a cooling rack
2. How to make cream cheese mousse
This Cream cheese mousse is absolutely lush and what makes this Red velvet cake recipe different from other Red velvet cakes! It is not the usual, heavy, butter based cream cheese frosting but light and airy with only a very small amount of sugar, feels like biting into the clouds! Preparing the cream cheese mousse filling is a 3 steps process, do not try to combine them to “save time”. Please note that this Red velvet cake contains 2 layers of cream cheese mousse plus the decoration on top (as you can see on the pictures) so you will have to make sure that there is enough cream left to do both layers and the decoration too.
- Step 1: Prepare the gelatin mixture. Soak gelatin sheets into cold water, in the meantime heat cream and sugar until simmering. Mix gelatine sheets into the hot cream mixture then bring it lukewarm temperature before step 2. Too warm? It will melt cream cheese in Step 2. Too cold? Gelatine will set and will be impossible to mix it with the rest of the ingredients. Do not put the mixture into the fridge or freezer as gelatine can form lumps if it cools too quickly. Note: Straight after making this cream it will be runny but do not panic, it will set in the fridge
- Step 2: Once the gelatine mixture cooled to lukewarm temperature, whip room temperature full fat cream cheese until fluffy, for about a minute. Fold fluffy cream cheese and the gelatin mixture together. Cream cheese is an interesting ingredient, it won´t get fluffier or harder if you beat longer, in fact, it will break and become runny. I suggest to use an Electric hand mixer to avoid over beating
- Step 3: After step 2, immediately whip heavy cream until soft peaks then fold cream into the rest of the mixture. Make sure heavy cream is very cold or it might be difficult to whip up. While whipping heavy cream, remember that it will go through the following stages: runny, soft peak, stiff peak then it will break and few minutes later buttermilk separates and you can make butter . For this recipe make sure you stop after soft peak. The cream should not be runny but also should not be too stiff which would make it difficult to fold the cream with the rest of the ingredients.
3. How assemble this Red velvet cake
Assembling this Red velvet cake recipe is super easy however a step by step process
1. You will need to make the 2 red velvet sponges first, let them cool on wire rack. For a neat looking Red velvet cake I recommend to keep one of the sponges as it is (that will be the bottom) and trim 1-2 cm (0.5inch) around the other one so it will be smaller in diameter – this will be the insert. Keep the trimmed edge for using it making the red crumble decoration for the velvety design. Freeze both sponges for half an hour before assembling so they are less crumbly.
2. While sponges are in the freezer prepare the cream cheese mousse as per instructions in the recipe. The consistency of the cream will be runny (but fluffy) at this point so it will be easy to assemble the cake, however it will set in the fridge in 4 hours into a mousse cake like consistency
3. Assemble the mousse ring; Set Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size) to 18 cm / 7 inch, same size as the larger sponge. Use Acetate cake collar around the ring inside for neat looking end results. Place the larger, chilled cake into the mousse ring tightly then pipe cream cheese mousse on top and smooth the top with an Offset spatula. Chill the cake for 10 minutes in the freezer then place the second, smaller sponge on top of the cream cheese mousse and pipe another batch of cream cheese mousse on top and around and again smooth with an Offset spatula. Place cake into the fridge for minimum 4 hours for the gelatine to set.
Tip.: Worth measuring the cream cheese mousse before piping so that the two cream layers are even. Set some cream cheese mousse aside for decorating the Red velvet cake (let it set in the fridge)
4. Decoration: Once both cake as well as the remaining cream cheese mousse set in the fridge, carefully remove mousse ring and acetate cake collar from the cake and pipe decoration on top. I am using a French star nozzle tip. Decorate with red velvet crumb according to your taste
4. What equipment is needed to make this Red velvet cake recipe
The Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size) can be replaced with spring form however mousse ring is adjustable in size therefore can be used for many different kind of cakes.
Acetate cake collar is an inexpensive baker hack you can purchase from Amazon and just makes all the difference! Once the mousse ring is set, place Acetate cake collar inside the ring and start building the cake up from bottom to top as stated in the recipe, it will encourage the side of the cake to look very neat.
Make sure you do not remove the mousse ring and Acetate cake collar until the cake is set. Once unmold the cake ring, remove Acetate cake collar very carefully. If happen to be any “wrinkle” on the side, you can smooth it out with an Offset spatula
5. How long does it take to make this Red velvet cake recipe
Patient is key when making layered mousse type cakes, like this Red velvet cake recipe. You just can’t rush certain steps or it will make a mess. Building up the layers is so easy, but you have to respect time, concretely leaving enough time in between the layers until they are set
- The sponges needs to cool down before building the cake up, ideally also frozen so they are less crumbly
- After assembling the first layer of sponge + cream cheese mousse, pop the cake into the freezer to set before building the second layer of sponge + cream cheese mousse on top
- And then comes the hardest part, let the whole cake rest with the mousse ring on it in the fridge for minimum 4 hours
- Regarding the decoration, the mousse that you use as decoration also needs to set in the fridge. It will achieve a pipeable consistency after 4 hours chilling time
- Make sure you do not remove the mousse ring and cake collar in the first 4 hours, this is how long time it takes for the mousse to set
Do you want more Red velvet cake recipe?
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RECIPE CARD – Red velvet cake recipe
- 75 g Unsalted butter room temp
- 200 g Granulated sugar
- 1 Egg room temp
- 1 Egg yolk room temp
- 200 g AP flour
- 10 g Cocoa powder
- ⅔ teaspoon Baking soda
- ⅓ teaspoon Salt
- 160 g Milk
- ⅔ teaspoon White vinegar
- Red food colouring concentrated gel
Cream cheese mousse
- 5 Gelatine sheet
- 120 g Heavy Cream 36% fat
- 130 g Granulated sugar
- 10 g Lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 400 g Cream cheese ex. Philadelphia
- 360 g Heavy Cream 36% fat
- 1 tablespoon Vanilla bean paste
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
Red velvet sponge
- Heat oven to 180 C / 356°F
- Prepare a 2 x 18 cm / 7 inches pan with parchment paper
- With an Electric hand mixer cream room temp butter with sugar
- Mix in egg and egg yolk
- Mix wet ingredients (milk, food colouring, vinegar) into another bowl
- Fold wet and dry ingredients into the butter egg mixture in the following steps: wet, dry, wet, dry
- Divide the cake batter in between the two pans equally using a digital scale
- Bake in 180C / 356F for 20-25 min or until skewer inserted comes out clean
- Cool the sponges on Cooling rack
- Once cakes are cooled, trim 1-2cm off around the edges on one of them, keep the other one as it is. Pop them into the freezer for half an hour minutes before assembling the cake
- Keep the trimmed edge for later decorating the cake
Cream cheese mousse
- Soak gelatins into cold water
- Heat cream (the first cream that is 120g) with sugar on low medium heat until simmering
- Squeeze excess water from gelatin and stir into hot cream then mix in the lemon juice. It won’t taste lemon but the lemon balances the flavours; Let it cool to room temperature. Do not place it into the fride as gelatin tends to form lumps if cools to quickly
- Whip heavy cream until soft peaks and very gently, using a Rubber spatula fold into the cream cheese mixture. It must stay light and fluffy
- Assemble the mousse ring and set it to 18 cm / 7 inch in diameter (Mousse cake ring (adjustable in size)) just as the size of the larger sponge
- For a neat looking, smooth side surface use Acetate cake collar within the mousse ring
- Start to build up the cake from bottom to top
- Place the larger, 18 cm / 7 inch diameter sponge into the mousse ring then with the help of a Piping bag pipe approx. 2cm cream cheese mousse on top. Pop it into the freezer for 5 minutes
- Place the smaller carrot cake sponge on top then pipe cream cheese mousse around and also another 2cm on top and smooth the top of the cream with an Offset spatula. Make sure you leave some mousse for later usage decorating the cake
- Place the cake and the leftover mousse into the fridge to set for minimum 4 hours
- Once cake fully set, carefully remove the mousse ring and cake collar