The Red Velvet Cake

The origin of red velvet cakes came about from the result of baking soda interacting with natural cocoa and other acids in the batter. Through the years, the red velvet craze has only continued, fueled in part by the red velvet cakes that have graced the Southern Living Christmas cover three times. 

The Red Velvet Cake
Photo: Hector Sanchez
Hands On Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 10 mins
12 to 16 servings



  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 cup butter, softened

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 2 tablespoons red liquid food coloring

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1 (8-oz.) container sour cream

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose soft-wheat flour (such as White Lily)

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt

  • Shortening


  • 3/4 cup strawberry preserves

  • 1/4 cup almond liqueur


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened

  • 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted

  • 1 3/4 cups diced fresh strawberries, divided


  1. Prepare Cake Layers: Preheat oven to 350°. Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add red food coloring and vanilla, beating at low speed just until blended.

  2. Stir together sour cream and 1/2 cup water until blended. Sift together flour and next 3 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spoon batter into 3 greased (with shortening) and floured 9-inch round shiny cake pans (about 2 1/2 cups batter in each pan).

  3. Bake at 350° for 20 to 24 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 30 minutes).

  4. Prepare Glaze: Pulse strawberry preserves in a food processor until smooth; transfer to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave strawberry preserves at HIGH 30 to 45 seconds or until melted; stir in almond liqueur. Brush 1/4 cup warm glaze over top of each cooled cake layer. Reserve remaining 1/4 cup glaze.

  5. Prepare Frosting: Beat 3/4 cup softened butter at medium speed 20 seconds or until fluffy. Gradually add 5 cups powdered sugar and 1/2 cup diced strawberries, beating at low speed until creamy. Add 1/4 cup diced strawberries, 1 Tbsp. at a time, beating until frosting reaches desired consistency. Reserve remaining 1 cup diced strawberries.

  6. Place 1 cake layer, glazed side up, on serving platter. Spread one-third of frosting over cake layer; sprinkle with 1/2 cup reserved diced strawberries. Repeat procedure with second cake layer. Top with remaining cake layer; spread with remaining frosting. Drizzle remaining 1/4 cup strawberry glaze over cake.

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