entertainingfoodFood & Drinkin the kitchen withkristina gillrecipes

in the kitchen with: amy butler

by Grace Bonney

This week features a recipe by textile designer, Amy Butler. Actually, it’s her mother Ann’s recipe! Red Velvet Cake is an old Southern favorite which you can find already made in your supermarket bakery if you are in a pinch…and live in the South. Being from the South, myself, I thought everyone could just walk into their grocery store and pick one up. I confess, when I went to the LBC to shoot this recipe with photographer Matt Armendariz, another Southerner, I wanted to cheat and buy the cake already made, but he said, “You can only get those ready-made in the South! It’s special order here.” So I pushed up my sleeves and got to baking. We had a little taster come over and give his stamp of approval, so we’re sure these will please anyone for whom you may bake them! (Photos by Matt Armendariz, little taster Jared “J. Lo” Lomenzo Torres appears courtesy his moms.) Enjoy!! We all did!

About Amy: Amy Butler is a fabric, home, fashion and print designer known for her modern approach to botanical, geometric and romantic inspirations. With spirited color and confident combinations of print, Amy has created a freshened view of the many product categories for which she now designs, including bedding, bath, fabric, sewing patterns, stationery, craft papers, handbags, dinnerware, home décor, and design and project books. Designed from her studio in America’s Midwest and sold worldwide, Amy’s lines are known for quality, creativity, sustainability and great style.

Click here for the full recipe or just click “read more” below.

Ann’s Red Velvet Cake

Preheat oven at 350

1 oz. red food coloring
2 Tbsp. cocoa
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. margarine
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cup cake flour
1 scant tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. soda
1 Tbsp. vinegar

Mix coloring and cocoa together until smooth and set aside until needed. Do not stir.

-Cream together butter, margarine and sugar. ( be sure to beat the mixture long enough…… the butter, margarine and sugar should look white and creamy )

-Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

-Add cocoa mixture and mix until well blended.

-Sift together two times: flour and salt.

-Add alternately with buttermilk and mix well.

-Place 1 tsp. soda on cake batter, then add 1 Tbsp. vinegar. Mix until well blended.

-Pour into 2 well greased and floured 9″ cake pans

-Bake at 350 for 30 minutes

-Cool and frost with French cream icing.

French Cream Icing

1 c. milk
6 Tbsp. flour
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. margarine
1 c. fine granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

-Make a thickening of 1 c. milk and flour. ( blend with hand mixer ) Cook until thick but not clumpy, more like a thicker sauce.

-Beat well to be sure it is very smooth. Take pan off heat and set in a pan of ice water to chill it.

-Cream together butter, margarine and sugar for 15 – 20 minutes. Add thickening and beat another 10 minutes. Add vanilla.

** Icing needs to be very cold. You may want to put it in the freezer for a bit to thicken and cool it.

Note from Kristina: If you choose to make cupcakes, this recipe yields about 36 of them.

Why Amy chose this recipe:

I chose my Mom’s red velvet cake because it encapsulates my best memories of celebrating and gathering when I was growing up. Mom always made us red velvet cakes for our birthdays ( really anyone’s birthday ) and especially during the holidays including Valentine’s day. We pretty much came up with reasons ( excuses ) to celebrate just to get Mom to make one of her cakes. My Mom is an excellent cook and she usually specializes in savory dishes but her red velvet cake can put you over the moon! It’s a moist, buttery cake with the creamiest icing. It takes a few extra steps, a little bit more time, but the end result is totally worth it. “

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  • mmmmm! these look delicious. i’m also from the south and i usually use a cream cheese based frosting on my r.v. cakes, but i can’t wait to try this recipe!

  • I’m always astonished at how many variations there are for red velvet recipes. The one I use comes from an old college friend and it’s always a hit at home.

  • I’m from the north (Minnesota, where it was -25 degrees this morning!), and have definitely never heard of Red Velvet Cake (it’s surely not available in any of our bakeries!).. so thanks for the wonderful recipe and lovely photos!

  • Yum – thanks for featuring these. I love Red Velvet cake, in fact my fiance and I are having RV cupcakes with cream cheese frosting at our wedding instead of a wedding cake! We have RV here in Indiana, people always make it for birthdays, etc.

  • Does anyone know what the rationale is for using butter and margarine? Just curious! I will definitely try this soon, thanks!

  • I love red velvet without cream cheese frosting. The cream cheese seems to overwhelm the delicate flavor of the red velvet.

    I will have to try this frosting recipe sometime.

  • I’ve been looking for the fabric with beads pattern! but I only found some product (bag, storage box etc.)so far. Could you tell me where I can get the fabric??

    Thank you

  • Red Velvet Cake is one of my favorite things in the world. I love seeing this recipe come from Amy- I adore her. And those pictures just make my mouth water,

  • My family calls this Red Devil’s Food Cake. It is a favorite for my Dad and I. We request one every year for our birthdays, so I get to eat some at least twice a year! My mom bakes the cake batter in two round cake tins and then layers the cake between rich butter frosting. Fattening to eat twice a year…

  • puck – sort of chocolatey. The recipe i have calls for a lot more cocoa powder than the one shown here but it’s still a subtle chocolate flavor. Mixed with cream frosting it’s heavenly. Truly.

  • basically they are chocolate cupcakes with red food coloring… there is cocoa in the mix….

    somebody else feel free to chime in!

  • I definitely want to try these! My boyfriend is a southern boy, and I always try to make things that might remind him of home. ;) Tell me, is the “soda” that is listed baking soda, or soda water?

  • Okay…I am gonna have to try these. As an aspiring cupcake aficionado and baker…c’mon! I’m meeting with Matt Armendariz this weekend…maybe I’ll have to surprise him. :)

  • We have Red Velvet cake (and cupcakes) in NY, too! :)

    These look gorgeous. I’ve been looking for an RV recipe that won’t come out dry, so this will be my next attempt…

  • The fabric underneath the cupcakes is Hable Construction.

    Unfortunately I wasn’t on the ball enough to pick up any Amy Butler fabric before shooting!!!

  • For anyone in the Milwaukee area, and perhaps too lazy to make their own, C. Adam’s Bakery at the Milwaukee Public Market sells delicious Red Velvet Cupcakes and Bites. Well worth the trip in this bitter cold!

  • Magnolia bakery has a video on how to make these delectable bites. They have both cupcakes & cakes to buy & Crumbs has cupcakes, but you can order the cake. If you are in NYC, hard to believe you couldn’t find one!

  • The best red velvet cupcakes I’ve had are from the bakery Make My Cake here in Harlem (featured in your Harlem post). I hope these are as good at those. I need a recipe, because I will need a fix if I ever move.

  • I love red velvet cake so much it was my wedding cake! I would argue, however, the they must be made with cream cheese icing and more cocoa in the batter. I also like to add a little bourbon to the icing, makes it extra rich.

  • I don’t want to be a spoilsport, and these do look yummy, but I wanted to point out that food coloring, especially red artificial food coloring, has been linked to neurological problems in kids. Kids that have underlying issues, like autism or seizure disorders, should avoid food dyes as much as possible – and I bet that goes for the neuro-typical as well. You can have cupcakes without the dye – they taste the same.

  • It’s not a chocolate cake. The flavor is hard to describe, but it does have a slight cocoa flavor, along with a little bit of a “tang.” You’d just have to try it! The photos are gorgeous and very tempting! I’ve only seen that frosting on a red velvet cake once (on Bobby Flay’s Throwdown). I thought it was most peculiar because the traditional southern way to frost it is with a cream cheese frosting. I’m a southern girl, so thanks for the press on this wonderful southern delight!

  • I know these are really trendy right now, but I’ve never liked the red color. Has anyone made them without the food coloring?

  • Grace, thankyou.

    I have been searching for a Red Velvet Cake recipe since I tried a cupcake from a local Sydney (Australia) store recently.

    Thanks for this post – it is going to come in handy!


  • Bethany at Emmy Lu-I’m from Minnesota too! And I haven’t heard of red velvet cake either! It seems all we get is lefse. I think I’ll be leaving this recipe conspicuously on the counter for my sister to see, as she is obsessed with cupcakes and lets me be her taster. :D

  • Mai, I got the fabric you see in the photo at Hable Construction (and met the wonderful ladies behind the brand at the same time!) in New York in December 2007 during a sale. You may be able to contact them to see if it is still available.

  • Ebay has lots of Amy Butler fabric – she even has a link on her website(which has inspiration coming out of the ying yang) to a Ebay seller – there are usually great sales. I purchased Amy’s fabric for under $7. a yard and it is being sold in Canada for $19.99 a yard! For those who don’t like red cake – either bake this recipe or bake a regular chocolate cake. Don’t like cream cheese icing great make something else. In other words thank Amy for not only sharing your fabulous apron(yes she sells the pattern for it) but for sharing something that your Momma makes.

  • I worship Amy Butler!!! I have at least one of her darling notebooks and I follow her fabrics faithfully…

    I’m so glad to have a tiny insight into her mind/life. Thanks, Grace!

  • my daughter and i made these for the family today. they are amazing. the frosting is really what puts it over the top! to me, it seems like a cream cheese would be too overpowering.

  • I’m a total valley girl from CA and thought Red Velvet cake was just white cake with some food coloring. I had no idea! Does anyone know a bakery in L.A. that has some delicious RV cakes to try?

  • @ Colleen: If you’re looking for RV cake in LA, you could try the RV cupcakes at Sprinkles Cupcakes. Personally, I would recommend a trip to Seattle to visit Trophy Cupcakes :-) Their red velvet cupcakes are out-of-this-world.

  • If you are ever in Montecito, CA you should try Whodidily Cupcakes…the red velvet with cream cheese frosting are beyond yummy. The owners have a whole host of other flavors that are equally as good.

  • AH! red velvet is delish and served in abundance in austin, texas at all the lovely cupcake shops. but… on another note, where are those teal goblets witht he white flowers from?? vintage, i assume? i’m looking all over for some just like that!!

  • You can freeze cupcakes and cake layers, un-iced, well wrapped, and perhaps closed in a zip-loc or similar bag. I’m not sure how long, maybe a month or so.

  • Red Velvet Cake holds a special place in my heart and belly: It was the wedding cake my husband made for our “Savannah Meets Havana” themed wedding… with a White Chocolate Cream Cheese frosting. Fabulous!

  • This is NOT red velvet cake. Real red velvet cake has beets – that’s where the red comes from. This is just chocolatey cake with red food coloring.

  • eden

    red velvet has evolved over the years from the original recipe (although the “original” recipe ingredients have been debated for some time, depending on who you talk to and where you live)


    red velvet cake can involve beets, but it is not required. this is a modern version of the cake involving food coloring but you can certainly replace that with beets if you prefer.


  • Hi,

    I can confirm the following info for those of you who have asked questions:

    “You got it…. soda is baking soda, and the butter margarine combo is
    the one two punch
    for flavor and moisture. Ok, so it’s not ‘ heart smart ‘ but it’s the
    most delicious cake!” -from Amy

  • I made these for Australia day (Monday 26th). Red velvet cakes seem to please us over here too (: I found the recipe didn’t make about 36 cupcakes, more like 21. Perhaps we just have different sized muffin tins here though.

  • natasha i think youre right. i was thinking i had a 24-muffin tin, but it was 12 – the standard sized muffin. And we did 1 standard tin + one layer. So a little under 24 is correct. Sorry for the calculation error!!!!

  • Wow! I made them tonight, yum! I actually doubled the amount of cocoa (I’m such a chocoholic) and the color was a beautiful dark red. My yield of cupcakes was also about 24 like Kristina said. Thank you so much!

  • I made the recipe as cupcakes (about 25 mins) and they came out great!

    The icing… not so much. I chilled the flour and milk, but it still got really soupy when I blended that mixture with the butter and margarine. I tried cooling it all, but it got grainy and still didn’t thicken up. Any tips?

  • This comment is a little late– but I also had the same problem with the icing. Although it tasted delicious, it never got smooth. It was grainy, and even looked a little oily in places. Did I beat it too much? Not enough?

  • I made these for valentines and they came out absolutely brilliant. They tasted Gorgeous! definatly reccomend, however they did take me ages to make!!! Will definatly make again. Thank You!!!

  • I just finished making these, and they turned out fine aside from my own mistakes. I didn’t have enough food colouring (no effect on taste, just didn’t look the best before I put icing on).

    My icing turned out alright. I think the trick is to let the milk and flour thicken up quite a bit over the heat. Mine had a nice consistency, although I got distracted and forgot the pan on high, so it has some little flour lumps in it. I hope no one will notice. But I whisked it really fast while it was thickening up and that seemed to work well.
    As for graininess, are you using fine granulated sugar? I didn’t have any, but I imagine the icing would be better with it.

    I plan on making these again and doing things RIGHT, haha!

  • thanks for printing the authentic icing recipe.
    The horrid cream cheese topping became popular after RVC recipes were spread nation-wide following the 1989 movie Steel Magnolias.
    Anyone lucky enough to have the heirloom recipe in their family would know better than to use it. Ruins the balance of this classic cake.

  • That really is a great apron – does anyone know where to get this pattern? Is it one of Amy’s?

    And the cupcakes are amazing too! I am making them for Australia’s RSPCA Cupcake Day, fundraising for kittens and puppies.

  • This is the red velvet cake recipe that my mom made. We bake it for everyones birthday…it is our tradition. This is the only recipe that is original because of the frosting. The cake has such a delicate flavor that this is the only frosting that compliments and doesn’t over power it like the cream cheese frosting do. It’s nice to see this recipe again. Fond memories.

  • I made red velvet cup cakes for a family gathering as there were several childeren included. I used an old fashioned boiled iceing instead. It was great, fluffy and very white. The kids loved it.

  • i made these today and they turned out delicious! very moisty and with the perfect touch of salt. My whole family loved it!

  • I have been searching for this cake cookbook I lost and cannot remember the title! It was tall, thin, hardcover and only about 40 pages. It had the BEST red velvet cake, southern coconut and lemon tea cake. The cover was white with pastel drawings. Anyone have a clue? It would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  • I made this recipe and they weren’t nearly as red as the picture shows. I would probably double the amount of red food colouring next time. And/or use less cocoa to keep the cake as close to white as possible so the red colouring can shine.

  • I made these this morning, they are so DELISH! I used butter instead or margarine and an extra tbsp of cocoa because I like them chocolately and they turned out wonderful! The icing also took a while but was totally worth it, smooth, shiny, fluffy and yummy!

  • How are there people on here who have never HEARD of red velvet cake??!?! I’m amazed!