Feb 6, 2013

Red Velvet Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream

Not gonna lie, I'm not a huge fan of Red Velvet Cake.  In fact, I think this is the first one I've ever made.  Not because they are complicated but I just never understood the concept.  It's a white cake dyed red.  Okay there is a little cocoa added, but that's only to increase the intensity of the red color...so basically we're talking about a mild mild mild chocolate cake with a red spray-tan.

Yeah I know I'm not giving you much incentive here...but let's face it, it's pretty at least.  And it's red and almost Valentine's Day, and people LOVE Red Velvet this time of year.  So I'm sharing this recipe for all the romantics out there.

However, with that said, this is an excellent version of Red Velvet cake.  It's moist and spongy, yet still has some depth, texture wise.  But the crown jewel of this cake is the Cinnamon Buttercream.  I've never tried this combo before and I'm now wondering where has this concept been my whole adult baking life?  Can you image this buttercream on a carrot cake?  Wowza indeed.

The buttercream is extremely light and delicate, having almost a whipped quality.  I promise this is not the type of frosting that gets stuck to the roof of your mouth.  It is simply perfect, not overly sweet, and fool-proof, don't you love that?

Lastly, a word to the wise here, according to Baked, from whom I got the recipe from.  As much as you love Red Velvet Cake, try your best not to add more than the 2 tablespoons of red gel food coloring.  A red-tinged tongue is not something your Valentine is asking for this year...well, unless that is your thing of course.

Happy Velvet-y Valentine's Day.

Red Velvet Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream
makes one 3-tier 8-inch cake
printable version


For the cake:
1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red gel food coloring
1/4 cup boiling water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour *see note below
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the cinnamon butter cream:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Red Hots (cinnamon imperials) candies for decoration, or any red-ish Valentine's candy.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment.  I use a sandwich baggie as a glove to make this step easier. 

Here's a tip to quickly cut parchment circles. Lay out a long piece of parchment that is long enough to fit your three pans, and trace each with a marker. 
Roughly cut out each circle. Align the 3 circles on top of each other (the dark marker helps to make the lines easier to see). Fold into quarters, and simply cut across the line. This helps so you're not sitting in your kitchen cutting around and around and around.

Dust the greased pans with flour, and knock out the excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, food coloring, and boiling water.  Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and shortening until smooth. 

Scrape down the bowl and add the sugar.

Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

 Stir the buttermilk and vanilla into the cooled cocoa mixture.

Sift the flour and salt together into another medium bowl.  With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, to the egg mixture in three separate additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Beat until incorporated.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda and stir until the baking soda dissolves; the mixture will fizz.  Add to the batter and stir until just combined.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops.  You can see here I used Wilton's Bake Even Strips.  I've owned for about 4 years now and finally got around to using them.   You know I am all for useless kitchen gadgets but these work AMAZING!  First dampen the strips then pin them around the bottom edge of your pan.  The moisture helps ensure that the edge of the pan stays cooler which means you don't end up with rounded tops or dry edges.  No need to trim the tops off the cake once it's baked which means less wastage and pretty-lil-level tiers!

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.  Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes.  Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely.  Remove the parchment.

To prepare the cinnamon buttercream, whisk the sugar and flour together in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan. 

Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on high until cool.  Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; beat until thoroughly incorporated. 

 Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla and cinnamon and continue mixing until combined. 

make sure your official taste tester is never too far away

If the frosting is too soft, transfer the bowl to the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency.  If the frosting is too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.

To assemble the cake, place one cooled cake layer on a serving platter or revolving cake stand for easy decorating.  ***Note if your cake platter doesn't have a top, I suggest you buy a disposable cake board.  This way you can easily transfer the cake from the cake stand to a cake saver.  Trim the top to create a flat surface and evenly spread about 1 1/4 cups of frosting on top. 

Top with the next layer, trim and frost the top, then add the third layer. 

Crumb coat the cakes and put the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up the frosting.  A crumb coat is a very thin layer of frosting that is used to seal-in the crumb so the final coat of frosting will be smooth and crumb-free.

Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting.  Garnish the cake with the red hots or whatever candy you can find that's red and sweet for your Valentine.  Refrigerate again for 15 minutes.

Slice up the love.  Enjoy!
Recipe courtesy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking


  1. I love red velvet and the frosting sounds amazing , I use the frosting with the mascarpone cheese from the joy of baking , that's really good too , will try out this one .

  2. Love love love the combo of cream cheese and mascarpone, let me know how you like this one. I could have forgotten the cake and just eaten the frosting from the bowl :)

  3. aaah! red velvet cake.. never goes wrong! :)