3-Layer Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream

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This is a very special cake.

And not because it’s the very first 3-layer cake I ever made (which it is!).

Or because the frosting has that dangerous buttercream quality of being so deliciously smooth and melt-in-your-mouth amazing that the thought that there’s over a pound of butter in it never crosses your mind until after it has crossed your lips.  (Yes, I know that’s a lot of butter…for those of you on diets, you may want avert your eyes and pretend you never saw this post.  It’s about to get graphic, in a buttercream-y sort of way.)

This cake is special because I made it to celebrate mine and Mike’s 6th wedding anniversary.

I was one happy girl when he deemed it (and I quote) the best cake and frosting he’s ever had.  So happy, in fact, that I promised to make it for him again in another 6 years.  ;)

A Note on the 3 Layers:  Because of the occasion, I wanted to make this cake extra special so I made it 3 layers.  For most occasions (or hey, maybe just a Monday night), a regular 2-layer cake would probably suffice, which is why below I’ve included the amounts for a 2-layer cake if you prefer.

3-Layer Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream

(Yield:  1 (3-layer) cake)

Red Velvet Cake:  (Adapted from my mom’s Crazy Chocolate Cake recipe that I used to make Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Cupcakes with Hazelnut Buttercream)

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little more to flour the baking pans

2 3/4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

1 cup canola oil

1 1/4 cups water

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 oz (about 2 1/2 tablespoons) red food coloring

Butter, to grease the baking pans

Preheat oven to 350F; butter and flour 3 (9 1/2 inch) round cake pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder; make three wells (1 large and 2 small) in the mixture.  To each well, add vanilla, vinegar, and oil; mix batter, gradually adding water and buttermilk.  Once batter is mixed, stir in food coloring.

Divide batter between the 3 prepared cake pans and bake 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting with cream cheese buttercream.  (Optional:  Chill before serving so buttercream cuts smoothly.)

Cream Cheese Buttercream:  (Adapted from my recipe for Swiss Meringue Buttercream that I used to frost Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes)

4 large egg whites

1 1/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla

22 oz (5 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

12 oz (1 1/2 boxes) Neufchatel cheese (or cream cheese), room temperature

In a double boiler, whisk together the egg whites and sugar.  Heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm (about 140F), whisking frequently (about 3-5 minutes).  Transfer the egg white/sugar mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Add the salt and beat on high speed until the mixture is thick and glossy (about 5-7 minutes).  Beat in the extract, then gradually add the butter and cream cheese piece by piece while beating; stop beating when the buttercream is thick and smooth.

Here are the measurements for 1 (2-layer) cake (the method is the same as above):

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little more to flour the baking pans

Scant 2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons vinegar

2/3 cup canola oil

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

1 c buttermilk

2/3 oz (about 5 teaspoons) red food coloring

Butter, to grease the baking pans

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  1. Carrie says

    I LOVE meringue buttercreams, so when I saw this frosting, I just had to make it. I used it to top cupcakes for a baby shower. They were the hit of the party. People went back for seconds and asked to take home leftovers. It makes a perfect frosting for piping because it’s super soft and holds its shape. The cupcakes were the most beautiful I’ve made so far. Thank you for yet another perfect recipe!

  2. jessica says

    First time I made the eggwhites was grainy so we redid the eggehites and gradually added sugar.the bowl I used was my stand mixer bowl.I whipped them in the stand mixer and added my butter and cream cheese slowly on medium.I ignored the curdled soup and kept beating them on slow.then I whipped them on high when the butter came together.
    I am so glad I followed the recipe because its so sweet yet creamy. Tastes like cream cheese.melts in my mouth and went to my hips.I did hours of recipe searching and this one was the best.I made my rosettes and leaf’s perfectly.my family loved it.thank you.
    Ps.if you haven’t tried it. Give it ago.

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