Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cassy Morris of Fig & Salt is back this afternoon with what can only be described as a SHOW STOPPER of a cake.

Cassy’s red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting must be seen to be believed. She makes hers super tall with copious amounts of icing, piling deep red fresh flowers on stop for visual effect.

Oh, and did you know red velvet cake is actually just an extra smooth and velvety chocolate cake with an obscene amount of red food colouring in it!? True story. I know two whole bottles of colouring seems excessive but go with it… Cassy assures us this is the only way to achieve that distinctive rich deep red colour.

Cassandra Morris of Fig & Salt

Red velvet cake ingredients. Teacup from Mud. Recipe by Cassandra Morris of Fig and Salt. Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. Large white platter by Anchor Ceramics. Recipe by Cassandra Morris of Fig and Salt. Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. Large white platter by Anchor Ceramics, white bread plate from Mud, Cutipol gold cutlery from Francalia, wine glasses and candle sticks from The Establishment Studios. Recipe by Cassandra Morris of Fig and Salt. Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Cassandra Morris of Fig & Salt
20th of October 2015

I first made a red velvet cake for my friend’s daughter who was turning 13. I thought it would be a suitably impressive cake to celebrate this milestone birthday and becoming a teenager. It’s bright, rich and sweet, and for me resembled everything great about this young girl.

Red velvet cakes have an exquisite texture, they are smooth and, well, velvety! Traditionally red velvet cakes are layered, but a single cake tin version is just as good and really simple to make. Of course, this classic chocolate cake is best paired with cream cheese icing. To me this in non-negotiable!  I like to lather a thick layer of cream cheese frosting all over the cake, so when you cut a slice, the texture is unexpected and super vibrant!

Note: The below recipe make one standard single tiered cake.

If you would like to make the large show stopper version as it appears in these photos, be sure to triple all elements of the ingredients and recipe below. You can then stack three separate cakes and add a layer of cream cheese icing between each layer if desired.

2 1⁄2 cups baking flour
1⁄2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1 1⁄2 cups caster sugar
1 1⁄2 cups of canola oil
2 eggs
2 bottles of supermarket brand red food colouring (trust me it gives the brightest colour)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup buttermilk
1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tsp white vinegar
400g icing sugar
70g unsalted butter (room temperature)
170g cream cheese (room temperature)


For the red velvet cake

Preheat oven to 170°C.

Grease, line and flour an 11 inch cake tin.

Combine sugar and oil in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until well combined.

Add eggs one at a time and make sure you beat well after each addition. and scrape down sides of the mixing bowl. Add food colouring and vanilla essence on low speed.

In 1⁄4 batches, slowly start to add flour and cocoa, alternating with the buttermilk until all combined.

In a small bowl mix the baking soda and white vinegar. Now add to the mixture, beat for one minute on medium speed to combine.

Pour cake into tin and bake for about 35 minutes. Test to see if cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake – if it comes out clean it is has cooked properly.

Leave cake to cool in tin for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

(Remember if you tripled this recipe, you will have cake mix for three cake tins!)

For the cream cheese frosting

Beat icing sugar and butter in an electric mixer with paddle attachment until sugar and butter have combined. Add cream cheese and beat for a further five minutes. Don’t over beat!

How to assemble a layer cake

The instructions below are for if you are choosing to triple this recipe and make a tall cake as pictured! If you are making just one cake, unstacked, simply ice the exterior of the single cake as desired.

If you really want to get into it and create super fancy tall cakes (like the one pictured!), some essentials I suggest you invest in to make decorating your cake easier include a good serrated knife, a rotating turn table, offset spatula in several sizes and a bench scraper. The instructions below assume you want to stack 3 individual cakes with cream cheese icing between each layer.

Place a bit of icing on your turn table and place your first cake on top of it.

With a serrated knife trim the domed top off your cake layer to make a flat surface, gently spinning the table as you cut the top of your cake to ensure it is flat and even.

Using your spatula, cover the top of your first cake evenly with a good amount of your icing, extending the icing a little over the edges of the cake.

Place your next cake on top and gently press it to make it level. If you find your cake is not level you can always bump it up with some of the cake left over from when you trimmed it.

Begin the process again with your third cake, adding a generous layer of icing and stacking your final layer on top.

Once all three cakes are stacked, spread the stacked tall cake with a small amount of icing all over. This is called a crumb coat and makes sure that all crumbs are sealed in.

Refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes, and then use all remaining icing to generously coat the cake. Place icing on top first, slowly rotating the turntable until the cake is covered. Use a bench scraper to smooth the sides of the cake and remove excess, slowly rotating the turntable to give you the slightly uneven look as pictured above.

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