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Easy Red Velvet Layer Cake Recipe

Make this red velvet cake recipe with ermine icing for Valentine's Day!
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: cake
Keyword: cake, red velvet, Valentine's Day
Servings: 12 slices
Author: Heather Perine

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 ½ cups/320 grams flour sifted
  • 1 teaspoon/6 grams salt
  • 1 teaspoon/5 grams baking soda
  • ½ cup /113 grams butter at room temperature plus 2 tablespoons to prepare pans
  • 1 ½ cups/300 grams sugar
  • 2 teaspoons/10 milliliters vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons/22 grams cocoa powder divided
  • 2 tablespoons/30 milliliters red food coloring
  • 1 cup/236 milliliters whole buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon/15 milliliters vinegar

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 2 cups (454 grams) whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups (4 sticks, 454 grams) unsalted butter softened
  • 2 cups (396 grams) granulated white sugar
  • Cake pans
  • Mixer
  • Sifter

Instructions

To make the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 2 (8-inch round) cake pans. I used non-stick cooking spray and dusted the pans with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder.
  • Sift together remaining the flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time and beat vigorously until each is incorporated. Mix in vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, make a paste of the remaining 2 tablespoons cocoa and the food coloring. Blend into butter mixture.
  • Alternating in 2 batches each, add dry ingredients and buttermilk to the butter mixture. In the last batch of buttermilk, mix in the vinegar before adding to the batter. Mix until blended.
  • Divide batter among the 2 pans and bake for about 30 minutes. Cool on a rack completely. (Can also be made in 2 cake pans.)

To make the ermine frosting:

  •  Over medium heat, whisk flour, milk, and sugar in a saucepan and heat to a simmer. Stir frequently until it becomes very thick (almost like pudding).
  • Remove from heat, whisk in vanilla and salt. Pour into a bowl to allow it to cool completely. Put plastic wrap on the surface to keep a skin from forming.
  • Use a mixer to cream butter until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  • With the mixer on medium, add the cooled flour mixture a little bit at a time. Continue to beat until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. The buttercream will resemble whipped cream.

To assemble the cake:

  •  Remove 1 cake from its pan and place flat side down on a serving platter. Drop about 1 cup of icing onto cake and, using a flat spatula, spread evenly over top. Remove the second cake from its pan. Place flat side down on top of first layer. Use remaining frosting to cover top and sides of cake.
  • 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. With a serrated knife, cut each layer in half.
  • 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 ermine 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.

Notes

  • Prepare your cake pans before you start. I use butter and then dusted with a little cocoa powder. I used my favorite 8-inch cake pans for this cake. Normally I would use flour, but since this is a red velvet cake I used cocoa powder instead. Simply sprinkle a tablespoon of cocoa powder in your cake pan and then tilt your cake pan around to cover all edges, and then tip it upside down (preferable over your sink) and tap out the excess. For a full tutorial you can read this post on how to prepare cake pans.
  • Do not over-mix. I say this a lot. But that’s because it is important!  To ensure you don’t, leave a streak of flour in your bowl. Don’t worry it will cook out.
  • Get your cake pan into your preheated oven right away. This cake rises due to the leavening agents in the cake! So if you let your batter sit around then it will lose that lift and you will end up with a heavy dense cake.
  • Frost the cake ONLY when the cake has completely cooled! If you frost too early, any heat in the cake will completely melt your frosting. I like to make the cake a day ahead then frost the next day. I frosted my cake with my ermine (or flour buttercream). But you could also use my cream cheese frosting recipe from my red velvet cupcakes. I would recommend making a double batch of the frosting to frost this cake. For all the tools you would need, visit my Ultimate Guide To Baking Layer Cakes.