Red velvet cake has been on my baking to-do list for a long time. I wanted a moist red velvet cake recipe with a soft crumb, the perfect red color, a delicious hint of cocoa, and the fluffiest cream cheese frosting.
As much as I absolutely love red velvet – I didn’t want the hassle of making a layer cake though. I usually can’t handle the stress of potential toppling cake layers. Not to mention I rarely need enough cake to serve a small army. So for today’s easy red velvet cake recipe – we’re making a red velvet snack cake. All the deliciousness with way less work.
Now that I’ve admitted my aversion to layer cakes, let’s talk about this snack cake.
What is red velvet cake and what does it taste like?
Red velvet cake is the king of all cakes; the “I can’t quite put my finger on the flavor” cake. It’s a glorious combination of a mild cocoa flavor, tangy buttermilk, sweet vanilla, and butter.
Red velvet cake’s texture is worth writing home about too. It’s dense and soft with a moist and velvety crumb. However, the absolute best part about red velvet cake is the cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
In my opinion, cream cheese frosting pairs best with red velvet’s flavor and this vanilla bean cream cheese frosting recipe is really simple! You need block-style cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla bean paste, and a pinch of salt (to offset the sweetness).
If you’re looking to pipe decoration with this cream cheese frosting, chill it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. This guarantees the creamy frosting will hold its shape.
How to Make Red Velvet Cake
I use specific ingredients and certain amounts to produce my best red velvet snack cake recipe. Begin by whisking the dry ingredients together, then beat together the wet ingredients. We’ll tint the batter red and combine the two, and then it’s off to the oven!
- Cake Flour: I highly recommend that you use cake flour. Cake flour is much lighter than all-purpose and the perfect base for a light, soft-crumbed cake texture. Like I mention above, red velvet’s texture is important to the authenticity of the flavor. If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, you can make a DIY cake flour substitute or use an equal amount of all-purpose flour.
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: 2 tablespoons is plenty for a little cocoa flavor without overpowering the vanilla and butter flavors.
- Butter: What sets red velvet cake apart from chocolate is its buttery flavor. Creaming the butter and sugar together will help guarantee that moist, soft and cakey texture with a buttery flavor aka perfection.
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk is tangy, creamy, and makes baked goods extremely moist. You literally can’t make delicious red velvet cake without it! Additionally, buttermilk helps activate the baking soda to leaven the cake.
- Sour Cream: Similar to buttermilk, this helps give the cake a slightly tangy flavor and keeps the cake nice and moist.
- Food Coloring: Red velvet cake wouldn’t be very red without food coloring. I use gel food coloring because the color is concentrated, meaning you need less of it. For natural coloring, you could use beet powder. If you don’t want to use food coloring, leave it out! The cake will have the same flavor and just be a shade of cocoa.
Tips to Make the Perfect Red Velvet Snack Cake
- Measure your flour correctly! Adding too much flour to the recipe is the most common mistake. The best, and easiest way to measure flour is by using a scale. If you don’t have one then fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off.
- Cream your butter and sugar until light and fluffy; do not skimp on this. Your butter mixture should be pale in color, and the consistency should be airy and light. The smoother and lighter the butter mixture is, the more quickly it’ll combine with the wet ingredients and flour.
- This recipe uses gel food coloring because you need less of it than liquid food coloring. If you use liquid food coloring, you’ll likely need most of the bottle (aka more than the 2 teaspoons this recipe calls for).
This Red Velvet Cake is so addictive; it’s hard to stop at one piece! Not overly sweet, but perfectly rich at the same time. You’ll see what I mean when you try it!
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Red Velvet Snack Cake
For the Red Velvet Snack Cake:
- 1¼ cups cake flour (or all-purpose flour)
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp coarse sea salt
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ½ tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp Red gel food coloring
For the Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 4 oz cream cheese softened
- ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray an 8x8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt until combined. Set aside.
- In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, vinegar, and vanilla until combined. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the sour cream, egg, and red food coloring, if using, and beat until well combined. Don't worry if the mixture looks slightly curdled at this stage!
- With the mixer running on low, gradually add the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth out evenly with a spatula. Bake the cake for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and relatively crumb-free. Remove cake from oven and let cool completely to room temperature.
- For the frosting: With a hand or stand mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla bean paste and pinch of salt and beat until combined. Gradually begin adding the powdered sugar ½ cup (60 grams) at a time, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cooled sheet cake. Top with any sprinkles of your choosing, if desired.
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