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Red velvet cake with basket weave buttercream and roses

Red Velvet Cake with Basket Weave

My stepmother, Patricia, is from Alabama, and she introduced me to the Southern red velvet cake. The cake's origins are a little murky, but the bright-red version we see today was invented in the 1920s by an extract company and then suddenly became one of the most beloved cakes in every city, not just the south. A note about this recipe: I baked the layers in three 6x2-inch cake pans, which is why it is soooooo tall. If you go with smaller pans, you will want to check them about 5-10 minutes earlier when baking, since they will be done sooner the smaller they are. 
Servings: 1 8-inch (20cm) triple-layer cake


  • 8 tbsp (112g) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120g) mild-flavored oil such as vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups (450g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract make homemade vanilla
  • 1 tbsp red food coloring plus more as needed
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 5 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 2 1/3 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder sifted if lumpy
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk at room temperature

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 1/2 lb (680g) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (330g) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp lemon extract optional
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 cups (600g) confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tbsp Lyle's Golden Syrup see note, optional


Red Velvet Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Generously grease three 8-inch / 20cm cake pans, then line them with greased parchment paper.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Turn the mixer speed to medium; add the oil, sugar, and vanilla; and beat for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is light in color and about double the volume. Add the food coloring and continue beating, until the batter is a uniform color.
  • Turn the speed to medium-low and add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, mixing each until incorporated before adding the next. Scrape the bowl after each addition.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
  • Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed until combined. Add half of the buttermilk, mixing until incorporated. Repeat with another one-third flour, the remaining buttermilk, and then finish with the final one-third flour, scraping the bowl and paddle after each addition.
  • Pour the batter into prepared pans and spread evenly using a small offset spatula. Gently tap the pans on the counter several times to release excess air bubbles.
  • Bake until a tester comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Remove the parchment paper and place one cake layer on a serving plate.
  • Using an offset spatula, spread a 1/4-inch / 6mm-thick layer of the frosting over the cake, making sure it goes all the way to the edge. Place the next cake over the frosting and top with another layer of frosting. Repeat with the last cake. If desired, at this point, you could crumb-coat the cake.
  • Decorate the cake with a smooth layer of the remaining frosting.
  • Serve the cake immediately or store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 24 hours. If refrigerated, bring the cake to room temperature before serving.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on low speed until it's smooth and there are no lumps. Scrape down the bowl and paddle often.
  • Add the butter to the cream cheese and continue mixing until smooth, scraping often. You want to make sure none of the cream cheese or butter is sticking in the paddle, or it may end up creating lumps. Mix in the vanilla, lemon extract (if using), and lemon juice.
  • Slowly add the confectioners' sugar and then the golden syrup (if using) and continue mixing until smooth.
  • If the frosting is thin and soft, you may want to chill it to give it more body and allow you to fill and decorate with more ease. Just cover the bowl and refrigerate until the frosting is firm, up to 24 hours, then return to the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until smooth. Use immediately.


Golden syrup is like a light caramel but not as overpowering a flavor; it just adds a nuance that is exquisite. Golden syrup is a staple in most British kitchens, but if you happen to find it in your own grocery in the United States, give it a try.