Red Velvet Cake: The Classic and Timeless Recipe


Red velvet cake, with its vibrant red color and rich, velvety texture, is a beloved classic that has stood the test of time. This delectable dessert has been a staple in American baking for decades, capturing the hearts and taste buds of many. In this article, we will delve into the history of the original old-fashioned red velvet cake recipe, exploring its origins, ingredients, and the step-by-step process of creating this iconic treat.

The Origins of Red Velvet Cake


The origins of red velvet cake can be traced back to the early 1900s. While its exact origin story remains a topic of debate, it is widely believed that the recipe first gained popularity in the southern United States. The use of cocoa and buttermilk, combined with a touch of vinegar, creates a unique flavor profile that sets red velvet cake apart from other desserts.

The Ingredients

To create an authentic old-fashioned red velvet cake, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

The Preparation

Now that we have gathered all the necessary ingredients, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of making an original old-fashioned red velvet cake:

Step 1: Preparing the Dry Ingredients

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, salt, and unsweetened cocoa powder. This will ensure that the dry ingredients are well combined and free of lumps.


Step 2: Mixing the Wet Ingredients

In a separate bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, red food coloring, pure vanilla extract, and distilled white vinegar. Blend the ingredients until they are well incorporated and the mixture has a smooth consistency.

Step 3: Combining the Dry and Wet Ingredients

Gradually pour the wet ingredients into the bowl containing the dry ingredients. Use a spatula or electric mixer on low speed to gently fold the mixture together. Be careful not to overmix, as this can result in a dense cake.

Step 4: Baking the Cake

Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Divide the batter equally between the pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Place the pans in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Step 5: Frosting and Decorating

Once the cakes have cooled completely, it’s time to frost and decorate your red velvet masterpiece. Cream cheese frosting is the traditional choice for red velvet cake, as its tangy sweetness complements the flavors perfectly. You can also add a sprinkle of red velvet cake crumbs or fresh berries for an extra touch of elegance.


Red velvet cake is more than just a dessert; it’s a true American classic that has stood the test of time. Its rich history, unique flavor profile, and striking appearance make it a favorite choice for birthdays, weddings, and special occasions. By following the original old-fashioned red velvet cake recipe, you can recreate this timeless treat and indulge in a slice of culinary history.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Can I substitute the buttermilk in the recipe?

While buttermilk is a key ingredient in red velvet cake, you can create a substitute by adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of milk. Let it sit for a few minutes before using it in the recipe.

2. Can I use natural cocoa powder instead of unsweetened cocoa powder?

It is best to use unsweetened cocoa powder for the authentic taste and color of red velvet cake. Natural cocoa powder may alter the flavor and appearance of the cake.

3. How should I store red velvet cake?

Red velvet cake should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can last for up to 3-4 days.

4. Can I freeze red velvet cake?

Yes, you can freeze red velvet cake. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store it in an airtight container or freezer bag. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

5. Can I use a different frosting instead of cream cheese frosting?

While cream cheese frosting is the classic choice for red velvet cake, you can experiment with other frostings like vanilla buttercream or chocolate ganache if desired.

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