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Grandma’s Red Velvet Cake

In our family no one thinks it’s Christmas without this Red Velvet Cake recipe. I baked the first one for Christmas in 1963 when I found the recipe in the newspaper and my Mother kept the tradition going into the ’80s. It’s different than other Red Velvet Cakes I’ve tasted over the years, since this one tastes only mildly chocolate and the icing is as light as snow. —Kathryn H. Davison, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Total Time
    Prep: 30 min. Bake: 20 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    14 servings


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 bottles (1 ounce each) red food coloring
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Cream butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in food coloring, vinegar and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
  • Pour into two greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Cool layers 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • For frosting, combine water and cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until thickened and opaque, 2-3 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Beat butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in cornstarch mixture. Gradually add confectioners' sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Spread between layers and over top and sides of cake.
Nutrition Facts
1 slice: 595 calories, 34g fat (21g saturated fat), 115mg cholesterol, 564mg sodium, 71g carbohydrate (52g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein.


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  • rdacla86
    Jun 10, 2020

    Cake was excellent but frosting recipe has way too much butter. 2cups is that correct? Will throw out frosting recipe and go to my regular buttercream

  • Suzanne
    May 9, 2020

    This is the same recipethat I and my family have been making for at least 100yrs. The icing is the same the only difference is we use evaporated milk,gives it really flavor. Someone mentioned cream cheese was the original to be used....that is incorrect, the cooked milk is the original and cream cheese replaced it as it supposedly easier....its a recipe from the south....

  • Cheryl
    Nov 2, 2019

    My grandmother always made this cake for birthdays and holidays. If you look at the “original “ recipe it calls for the frosting made with milk and flour. Cream cheese frosting is not the original. The “proper” name for the cake is Waldorf Astoria Red Cake.

  • CetaceaSFB
    Oct 20, 2019

    My grandmother passed her recipe to my mom, who passed it to me. This is my favorite cake, and has been my birthday cake for 59 years. I'm with Jane (Oct 16,2019), this is the icing always used on our Christmas cakes and my birthday cakes. Frosting: 1 cup milk ¼ cup flour 1 ½ cups granulated sugar 3/4 cup butter, (1 1/2 sticks room temperature) 1 tsp vanilla Over medium low heat cook milk and flour until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, set aside; let cool. Cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and blend in well. Add cooled Milk sauce; beat until stiff. Frost cooled cake Good stuff! :)

  • debragoins
    Oct 17, 2019

    Karila, when there's acid, as in buttermilk, use baking soda. I always stir my soda into my buttermilk....that's the way my grandmother taught me.

  • Jane
    Oct 16, 2019

    I’m 80 and was making the red velvet cake when I was in my 20’s. I thought I had the original recipe. The frosting wasn’t like the one here but possibly had the same results. It was one cup of milk and one-third cup of flour cooked until thick and then cooled completely. The sugar was granulated sugar beaten with the butter until fluffy. I think the butter is two sticks, not two cups, and then the cooled milk flour mixture and one teaspoon vanilla was added and beaten until it became very fluffy and silky. Takes quite a bit of beating.

  • PeebsnJay
    Oct 16, 2019

    The cake recipe part is fine, but it's not a true red velvet cake if it's frosted with buttercream frosting. A true red velvet cake will always have a cream cheese frosting!

  • Karila
    Aug 23, 2019

    I wish there was a picture anywhere of how this case is supposed to turn out. This recipe calls for baking soda, but now I’m thinking maybe baking powder may have caused a little bit of a better rise? Am I wrong?

  • wanke1978
    Jul 25, 2019

    Love this recipe! It is just like my grandma use to make! I will definitely use this again!

  • Ernie
    Feb 11, 2019

    I'm nearly 54 yrs. old