Feb 1, 2021

Recipe: Red Velvet Cake

We make no apologies for putting a classic American cake in a book of English baking. We first started making this four or five years ago and it flies out of the shop as soon as we put it on the counter. Those who know it love it. Those who don’t think it’s a bit weird to put so much food colouring in a cake, but they are quickly converted after their first bite.


- 225g caster sugar
- 2 medium eggs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 250ml sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
- 11/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 150ml buttermilk
- 11/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 225g plain flour
- 11/2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp red food colouring paste (we use Sugarflair, which is available from cake- decorating shops and online; the liquid food colouring available in supermarkets is a bit feeble).
- 1 batch of cream cheese icing

Ingredients For Cream Cheese Icing

Makes enough to fill, crumb coat and cover a four-layer 18cm cake or 24 cupcakes.

- 750g icing sugar
- 300g cream cheese
- 75g unsalted butter, very soft

Fitzbillies Red Velvet Cake


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Grease and line the bases of two deep 18cm sandwich or cake tins.

2. Put the sugar, eggs and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until pale and creamy. With the mixer still running, add the oil in a slow stream and keep whisking until the mixture thickens. Add the vanilla extract.

3. In a separate large bowl, mix together the buttermilk, bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice. (The mixture will bubble and double in size, then collapse down – don’t be alarmed!).

4. Sift one third of both the flour and cocoa powder into the egg mixture and gently whisk. Then add half the buttermilk mixture and whisk again. Repeat until you’ve used up both mixtures, then add the red food colouring and stir one final time.

5. Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and smooth with a palette knife – you can weigh them to check that you have the same amount in each, if you like. Bake for 40–45 minutes until the cakes spring back to the touch. Leave in the tins to cool completely.

6. Make the cream cheese icing according to the recipe on page 116. If the icing is a bit soft, chill it in the fridge for 1 hour.

7. Trim any doming on the top of the sponges, reserving the trimmings for decoration, then slice each cake horizontally into two even layers. Place one layer on a cake board or plate and spread with cream cheese icing. Repeat with the next two layers of cake, then place the final sponge layer on top. Coat the cake with the rest of the cream cheese icing according to the instructions on page 116. Decorate the cake with red velvet cake crumbs.

Method For Cream Cheese Icing

1. Sift the icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer.

2. Add the cream cheese, butter and any flavourings of your choice.

3. Put a tea towel over the mixer and start on a slow speed so that you don’t make a snowstorm in the kitchen. Mix until combined.

4. If the icing has a good texture, you can start icing as soon as the cake is completely cold. If it seems a bit soft, put it in the fridge for an hour.

For more recipes, cake ideas, baking tips and stories buy our Fitzbillies book

Published by Nathaniel Mahoney



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