Cakes, Gemma's Best Recipes

Gemma’s Best-Ever Red Velvet Cake with Ermine Frosting

4.88 from 227 votes
My Best-Ever Red Velvet Cake recipe is moist, tender, and is topped with an incredible homemade Ermine Frosting.
A top-down view of my best-ever red velvet cake.

Hi Bold Bakers!

Red Velvet cake has gone from a classic Southern dessert to one of the most iconic cakes around the world! Red velvet cake and cupcakes are favorites in bakeries, on restaurant dessert menus, and for home chefs everywhere. But what makes this beautiful red cake so popular?

I have a few theories! My homemade red velvet cake calls for buttermilk (you can make your own if you don’t have any handy in your fridge!), which makes the cake itself incredibly moist. The flavor, which includes unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla extract, and a little cinnamon, is both decadent and comforting. 

But I think the real secret is the Ermine frosting! Often, this cake is topped with a cream cheese frosting (like my Best-Ever Carrot Cake recipe), but if you want a traditional red velvet cake, then you need Ermine frosting on top. This type of frosting isn’t as sweet as your other frosting, and the super creamy topping is perfect to balance the sweetness of the cake. 

This is a great dessert to whip up for friends, or your main squeeze, on Valentine’s Day (also check out my Best-Ever Chocolate Cake)! Here’s why it’s the Best-Ever Red Velvet Cake recipe you’ll ever have.

What Is Red Velvet Cake?

Red velvet cake is different from a typical chocolate cake because it includes an acid component — in this case, buttermilk! This makes the cake itself feel very silky, which is how it got it’s “velvet” name. A chemical reaction happens with the cocoa powder, baking soda, and the acid in the buttermilk, which makes the cake look almost maroon. Over time, that look has been amped up with food coloring, which gives you that iconic red color! 

A slice of my moist Best-Ever Red Velvet Cake recipe, topped with ermine frosting.

What Is Ermine Frosting?

Ermine frosting is the perfect frosting if you don’t like the thickness of a cream cheese frosting or the super sweetness of a buttercream frosting. It was used often in the early 1900s but has since seen a resurgence in popularity. You might be able to find it under other names in old recipe books, like Flour Frosting, Boiled Milk Icing, or Butter Roux Icing.

Ermine frosting, which gets its name from the expensive white fur that is made from stoats’ winter coats, is made by cooking flour and sugar with milk until it becomes a paste. Then, that paste is whipped with butter, and vanilla and salt are added. 

What You Need To Make Red Velvet Cake With Ermine Frosting

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • 2 9-inch round cake tins
  • Mixing bowls
  • Sieve
  • Saucepan
  • Stand mixer/Hand mixer

How To Make Red Velvet Cake With Ermine Frosting

Red velvet cake is always a show-stopper; here is how you can make it at home (and don’t forget to get the full recipe with measurements, on the page down below):

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and grease and line your 2 9-inch round cake tins. 
  2. In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk together eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, and vanilla. 
  4. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Be sure not to overmix the batter, as it can make the cake tough. Divide the batter into the 2 cake tins. 
  5. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick into the center of the cakes and it comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the tin, then turn them out onto a rack to cool completely.
  6. To make the Ermine frosting, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook for about 2 minutes to toast the flour. 
  7. Slowly, add the milk to the mixture, whisking to combine. Whisk it continuously until it simmers and has thickened to the consistency of a thick pudding. 
  8. Remove the saucepan from the heat, lay plastic wrap directly on the mixture’s surface, and cool completely for roughly 2 hours. (If you wish, you can make this the day before and keep it in the fridge.) 
  9. Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl, if using a hand mixer), and whisk on high until it is light and fluffy. This should take about 2-3 minutes.
  10. Slowly add in the cooled flour mixture, one spoon at a time, as you whip. Then, add in the vanilla and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  11. See notes below on how to decorate the cake! 

A close up of the interior of a slice of red velvet cake, to show texture and consistency — on a plate with a gold fork.

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Making Red Velvet Cake With Ermine Frosting

  • Make the cake the day before you need it. Not only are day-old cakes easier to decorate, but the cake’s flavor gets better as it sits! 
  • Use gel food coloring instead of liquid food color. The gel is more concentrated, which yields better color. 
  • Cinnamon isn’t in traditional red velvet cakes, but I like to add it for a little warmth.
  • Once you mix the wet and the dry ingredients, you want to get the cake batter into the oven as soon as possible, as the chemical reaction with the baking soda and buttermilk has started.
  • Use vegetable, canola, or sunflower oil. Even coconut oil will work well with the flavor of this cake. 
  • You can decorate this cake with the Ermine frosting or homemade Cream Cheese Frosting
  • If you don’t have buttermilk, use this Buttermilk Substitute. 

How Do I Store Red Velvet Cake?

This red velvet cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 days. The flavoring improves as it sits, so feel free to make this a day ahead! 

Make More Cake & Puddings!

And don’t forget to buy my Bigger Bolder Baking Cookbook!

Full (and printable) recipe below!

Watch The Recipe Video!

Best Ever Red Velvet Cake Recipe with Ermine Frosting

4.88 from 227 votes
My Best-Ever Red Velvet Cake recipe is moist, tender, and is topped with an incredible homemade Ermine Frosting.
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
My Best-Ever Red Velvet Cake recipe is moist, tender, and is topped with an incredible homemade Ermine Frosting.

Ingredients

Red Velvet Cake

  • 2 ½ cups (12 ½oz/ 355g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups (12oz/340g) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups (12floz/340ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (8oz/ 225g) buttermilk
  • 2-3 tablespoons gel red food coloring
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Ermine Frosting

  • ¾ cup plus 3 tbsp (7 oz/199g) granulated sugar
  • cup (1 ½oz/43g) all purpose flour
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8floz/225ml) whole milk
  • 1 cup (8oz/225g) butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

How to Make Red Velvet Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and line 2 (9-inch) round cake tins.
  • In a large bowl, sieve together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a separate jug, whisk together eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, and vanilla.
  • Whisk the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Take care not to overmix the batter as it can toughen the cake. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
  • Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the tin then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

How to Make Ermine Frosting:

  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt. Cook for roughly 2 minutes to toast the flour. 
  • Slowly add in the milk, whisking to combine. Whisk continuously until the mixture simmers and has thickened and is the consistency of thick pudding. Lay plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture and set aside to cool completely, roughly 2 hours. (This mixture can be made the day before and kept in the fridge.)
  • Next, add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high until light and fluffy, roughly 2-3 minutes.
  • Slowly add in the cooled flour mixture one spoon at a time as you whip. Lastly, add in the vanilla and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy. Set aside until needed.

Decorating the Cake:

  • Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. Put a dollop of Ermine frosting in the center of the cake and with an offset spatula spread it all the way to the edges of the cake creating an even layer of frosting. Repeat with the next layer.
  • On top, spread a big dollop of frosting. Work the excess frosting from the top down the sides, roughly covering the cake with a thin layer of frosting. This step is just the first layer known as the crumb layer. Don’t worry, it’s not supposed to be beautiful.
  • Put the cake in the fridge and let the crumb layer set for a minimum of 45-60 minutes. (this will make the finished product look really clean.)
  • Take the cake from the fridge and put on another, final layer of frosting. Start with a dollop on top again and work the frosting down the sides covering the whole cake. Decorate by sprinkles a few extra cake crumbs around the top of the cake if you have them.
  • Keep this cake at room temperature for up to 4 days. It just gets better as it sits.

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Chesca
5 months ago

To anyone reading this: YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS RECIPE. Every time I see a “Best-Ever” recipe, I know in my heart it’s going to taste like heaven on earth! Been an avid fan of yours and a “best-ever recipe” enthusiast so I was super confident with your recipe—THAT confident that I even told my family to not order a cake for Valentine’s Day. Dear Gemma, your recipe did not fail me 😉 101% satisfied with something that was even so easy to make! I even took the time to join the competition and edit the photo entry I submitted… Read more »

Samaira
5 months ago

I made this cake with whipped cream…it turned out super delicious and moist!

Kat2021
5 months ago

I Baked the red velvet cupcakes with the Ermine Frosting for a my Senior bake sale. They were a hit. I did tried some myself they are delicious! Thank you so much for sharing this awesome receipt.

Sabeena Alnuhasi
5 months ago

Thanks a Bunch Gemma for the Traditional Recipe of Red Velvet Cake.Honestly I never knew about Ermine Frosting and I wondered how flour could create magic in frosting.But It was First-Class😍There was no bit of flour in the taste nor texture.Cake was moist and came out to velvety texture. Sweetness of Cake&Frosting was so balanced that the measurements given here is super perfect.Absolutely no fail Recipe. Baked for my birthday to gift my mom ❤
Hugs and Love Gemma💛

Sakina abbas
Sakina abbas
5 months ago

Hii.. Sakina here… I mad this cake yesterday.. Oh mu god it was mind blowing.. It turned oyt really good and yummy.. Keep it up.. Thanks for the recipea love uu😍😘😘😍😍😍👍🏻💐

Brooks1gma
5 months ago

I made this cake for my daughter and her fellow teachers. They loved it. The cinnamon takes the flavor to another level. I will use this recipe over and over. ❤️❤️❤️

A Andriya
5 months ago

Just asking…. the frosting will be good right? like will it be more creamy or sweet? coz i don’t make frostings when I make your cakes…. i was a bit curious as this frosting is different…. just wanted to make sure….. coz i want to join the February Bold Baker Challenge, but i can’t submit a cake without frosting…. so….. yea..

Cindy
Cindy
6 months ago

Can’t wait to try this. I absolutely love Ermine frosting (not sure why it’s not more of a staple for frostings). I made red velvet cake a few months ago w/ Ermine frosting (used beets for the red coloring); but look forward to your cake…looks delicious and so moist!

Janna
Janna
6 months ago

Have you ever used beet juice instead of red food coloring?

Shweta
Shweta
1 day ago

Hi Gemma,
How can I make this cake gluten free? I have almond flour.What should be the proportion of ingredients for gluten free cake?

Thanks in advance
Shweta

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for my FREE weekly emails and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!