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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!
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
- 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):
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and grease and line your 2 9-inch round cake tins.
- In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate bowl or jug, whisk together eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, and vanilla.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- See notes below on how to decorate the cake!
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!