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Red Velvet Layer Cake


Chef notes

I love the bold color contrast of rich, ruby-red velvet cake layers and cool white cream cheese frosting. It's as appealing to look at as it is to eat.


  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon red food coloring
  • cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • chocolate cheesecake or red velvet frosting
  • chocolate cookie crumbs, for topping



Preheat oven to 350 F.


Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.


On low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, vanilla and red food coloring. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and paddle for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is much lighter in color, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture and completely homogenous. Don't rush the process. You're basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn't want to make room for the liquid. There should be no streaks of fat or liquid. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.


On low speed, add the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together, and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.


Pan-spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment, or just line the pan with a silicone mat. Using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. Give the bottom of your cake pan a tap on the countertop to even out the layer.


Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake will rise and puff, rising to the top of the sheet pan. At 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: The cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn't pass these tests.


Take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer (don't worry, it's not cheating). The cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.

To assemble:

Leave in the pan to make a sheet cake or make a layer cake by stamping out 2 circles from the cake with a cake ring and using the remaining "scrap" for the bottom layer.

Make it your own by layering and topping with your favorite homemade or store-bought chocolate cheesecake or red velvet frosting and decorate with chocolate cookie crumbs.