The delicious red velvet cake originates in America. It was historically coloured with beets and beet juice to keep the cake moist and well bound. In more recent times, the recipe has evolved to include red food colouring. The texture of the soft red-hued cake and the cream cheese frosting is wonderful together. Each food colour brand is different so use as much as you think is best. The cake does become lighter in colour when baked so don’t be afraid to be heavy-handed.

Tip: If you can’t find buttermilk at the supermarket, put one teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar into 400ml of full-fat milk and allow to sit for five minutes.

Red velvet celebration cake by Jean Cleary, Bakes by Jean

Red Velvet Cake


  • 250g butter
  • 600g sugar vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • Red food colouring
  • 400ml buttermilk
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 600g plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar


Step 1. Line 2×8 inch cake tins with baking paper and set aside.

Step 2. Preheat the oven to 180oC.

Step 3. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together.

Step 4. Add the eggs and the red food colouring.

Step 5. Sieve the cocoa powder and plain flour together

Step 6. Bit by bit, add the buttermilk and the flour mixture.

Step 7. Working quickly, add the bicarb soda to the vinegar and mix well. Add to the red cake mix and combine well.

Step 8. Divide between the cake tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Step 9. Allow to cool in the tin for five minutes then remove from the tin and place on a wire rack.

Step 10. When fully cooled, place the cake into the fridge to harden. This will stop the crumbs sticking to the frosting when it’s time to cover the cake.

Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting…

Image: Owen Bruce/Unsplash

Cream Cheese Frosting

I have tried so many cream cheese frosting recipes and this is by far my favourite. Please do not attempt to make this with cream cheese straight from the fridge as the end product will be too stiff and lumpy to spread on a cake. Use it on the beloved red velvet cake, carrot cakes or cupcakes such as vanilla and lemon.


  • 250g cream cheese
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 600g icing sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 tbsp (3ml) vanilla bean paste
  • 1 lemon/orange zest, optional


Step 1. Bring the cream cheese to room temperature before attempting this recipe. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl.

Step 2. Add the butter and vanilla and beat until light and creamy. Add the salt. Add the citrus zest, if using.

Step 3. Add the softened cream cheese and beat for another 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Don’t over-beat as the cream cheese will become loose and will not be good for spreading or piping.

Step 4. Sandwich the cake together with the cream cheese frosting and spread between the layers.

Tip: I doubled the recipe and divided it between three tins.

The bicarb and vinegar mixture is what makes this cake so crumbly. This cake is really tricky to coat. It may take a little bit of practice to not get red cake crumbs all over the frosting but that just adds to the homemade look.


Header image by Baiq Daling/Unsplash

Ms Floral Says Oh YUM! Is this not the perfect dessert for a red themed engagement party or wedding? Or to whip up as a Valentine’s treat? Thanks for sharing your baking wisdom with us, Jean!

About Bakes By Jean: Baking has always been Jean’s first love! Jean started baking at an early age with her mother in their kitchen in Offaly, Ireland. Bakes by Jean was born in 2015, specialising in custom-designed creations. Jean creates and bakes from her council registered kitchen in Travancore, 4km from Melbournes CBD. Jean doesn’t try to be the best cake maker but she hopes that the love and soul she puts into every creation shines through her cakes.