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. “

Suggested For You


  • 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!

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