Grandma’s Red Velvet Cake Recipe

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Grandma's Red Velvet Cake | somethingswanky.com

I know I really missed the boat on getting this posted in time for Valentine’s day and the rest of red velvet-palooza that’s been happening here all month.

Palm to the head.

But I just had to post it anyway, because it’s seriously the best red velvet cake I’ve ever had. And even better than that– it’s a family recipe. Like, a real family recipe.

I mean, of course I have other family recipes on hand. But they mostly come from… like, you know… underneath the Cool Whip lid and stuff.

Grandma's Red Velvet Cake | somethingswanky.com

But not this one. It’s completely legit, from scratch, and totally amazing.

I have a small notebook with a handful of recipes that come from my mom, aunts, grandparents, and those recipes are really special to me. This one happens to be from my great grandmother (and we even have it in her handwriting!). My Grandma made it for our Christmas dessert last year, which was the first time I remember eating it.

I was blown away.

Grandma's Red Velvet Cake | somethingswanky.com

The cake manages to be moist and dense at the same time. The frosting isn’t a traditional cream cheese frosting, which surprised me– but in a good way. It’s filled with pecans and coconut, and it’s not overly sweet since the base is made from a flour and milk paste. I know that sounds a little weird, but you’ll have to take my word on it. This frosting is FABULOUS. And it really pairs perfectly with the red velvet.

My great-grandma’s recipe calls for making this a 6 or 8 layer cake (which my Grandma, the queen of layered cakes, pulled off beautifully at Christmas), but I’m took that down a notch and went for 4 layers. However, if you have the magic touch with layered cakes, definitely go for it. I’d double the frosting if you’re doing more layers though… just a note.

I hope you enjoy this special family recipe as much as I have!

Red Velvet Cake Tips and Tricks:

  • Sift the cocoa powder to avoid any clumps in your cake batter.
  • Be careful not to overmix the batter– stop mixing as soon as the ingredients are combined. Overmixing will result in a tough cake.
  • If you don’t have red food coloring, you can use beet juice! I’ve used both and they work equally well.
  • If you want a really deep red color, add a little bit of blue food coloring to your batter. This will counteract the natural red tones in the cocoa powder and give you a true red color.
  • If you want a really tall cake, bake the cake layers in half sheet pans. You’ll need to adjust the baking time– start checking them around 15 minutes. They should be done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • To make transporting your cake easier, use a cardboard cake round or cake board underneath your assembled cake. This will help keep everything together and prevent any sliding.
  • If you want to get really fancy, pipe some frosting around the edge of each layer before adding the next one. This will give your cake a nice finished look.
  • Leftover cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Red Velvet Cake FAQ

What is red velvet cake?

Red velvet cake is a type of cake that originated in the United States. The most notable characteristic of this cake is its bright red color, which is often achieved with food coloring. The cake is typically moist and fluffy, and it is often layered and frosted with cream cheese frosting.

Grandma's Red Velvet Cake | www.somethingswanky.com

Grandma’s Red Velvet Cake

Yield: 20

Ingredients

For the Red Velvet Cake:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ounces red food coloring
  • 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

For the Coconut Pecan Frosting:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven 350ºF. Line two 9-inch round cake pans with foil and grease with a non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, food coloing and eggs.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until batter forms and is a uniform color.
  4. Divide batter between the two cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting each cake through the center to create 4 layers of cake.

For the frosting:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and milk until thick paste forms. Set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Mix in the flour paste, coconut, and chopped pecans.
  3. Layer the frosting in between each layer. Garnish with additional coconut and pecans if desired.

Notes

I have two versions of this recipe in my family recipe book. I didn't notice until I was typing this up that the frosting recipes are different. One recipe calls cooking 3 tbsp of flour with 1 cup of milk over the stove top until thickened, and then letting it cool before adding it to the butter and sugar. Obviously, I used the version that calls for mixing together 1 cup of milk with 1 cup of flour.

I have no idea how the other version comes together since I haven't made it myself, but if you are averse to using so much flour (I know that 1 cup of raw flour is substantial), I would definitely recommend trying the stove top version.

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25 thoughts on “Grandma’s Red Velvet Cake Recipe”

  1. Ashton this cake is AMAZING! Since you’re the RV queen, if you say this is the best RV cake you’ve ever had, it’s the best. And those few treasured recipes that are actually WRITTEN DOWN from family, yes, they’re totally cherished. I wish I had more of those. Nothing was written down by my grandmas! pinned

    Reply
  2. This looks very much like my mother’s recipe except that she used a powered red food coloring that I can’t find. Her icing was the cooked style and was always marvelous. She gave her recipe to a dear family friend who unfortunately lost it in later years. I will be trying yours in the near future. Thanks for sharing this special keepsake.

    Reply
  3. Oh I am so in love with this cake, Im going to pin this for my very own birthday this year! Love, love, love. And how special to have it in your grandma’s handwriting. So, so special.

    Thanks for sharing Ashton. Amaze!!!!!!

    Reply
  4. I don’t believe it!!!!! This is the frosting I have always used for a red velvet, carrot, or even a chocolate cake. The only difference is mine called for shortening instead of butter. My cake may be a little different but not sure. I have never seen a frosting anywhere on red velvet that was not cream cheese until I came across the one I use. I don’t like cream cheese so I was thrilled. Plus must red velvet is dry and the recipe I use isn’t. Yours looks very moist. I could eat this frosting with a spoon.

    Reply
  5. This is so special! The photo with your grandmother’s recipe is my favorite; it tells such a sweet story. And red velvet is delicious ANY time of year, not just Valentine’s Day! I love how your frosted it too, leaving the side bare; it looks so cozy and comforting and rustic and perfect. 🙂

    Reply
  6. I really don’t need another Red Velvet Cake recipe, but you got me with this family favorite! I can’t wait to try it! I love the idea of coconut and pecans in the frosting and your pictures are marvelous. Thanks to your grandma for sharing this jewel.

    Reply
  7. Was wondering when using the 1 c. of flour version could you taste the flour in the frosting,
    I have made the cooked version and there is no flour taste, the frosting actually taste like vanilla icecream.

    Reply
  8. This is beautiful! Years ago I read a book about the history of cakes(I LOVE cake!) and it said that the cream cheese frosting we often associate with red velvet is actually a more modern change to the recipe. The book had a recipe similar to yours except no coconut. I think they called it ermine frosting. I made this for a birthday at work and it was my first time making red velvet. Everyone loved it but one guy was disappointed because no cream cheese. Oh well, it was free cake! Also, I love the rustic look and wonder how your sides look like that? Kind of textured and not cake pan looking. I like it. I’m going to try your recipe because, uh coconut!

    Reply

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