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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

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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  1. Hi Faith,

    Is this buttercream sturdy enough as regular SMBC?

    I am wanting to create a 2-tier red velvet cake, however with cream cheese is impossible due to the consistency. Ideally would like a cream cheese SMBC that will hold in the weather and also hold a cake on top?

    Please let me know? :)

    1. Lucy, Thank you so much for your comment! This buttercream is as sturdy as a regular SMBC and will hold up fairly well for a couple hours at room temperature. Because of the butter content, it will definitely start to melt at warm room temperature though.

      Will the cake be left outside at all or will you be able to refrigerate it until serving?

  2. There’s no eggs in the recipe?

    1. Deidre, That’s correct, there are no eggs in this recipe. It’s such a moist, flavorful cake, I hope you enjoy it if you give it a try! :)

  3. 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 family loved it.thank you.
    Ps.if you haven’t tried it. Give it ago.

  4. 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!

    1. Carrie, Yay, I’m so glad you liked the frosting! Thanks for letting me know, you made my day! :)

  5. Wow, that’s one spectacular looking cake! Your husband is one lucky guy. :-) Happy anniversary, Faith!

  6. This cake is magnificent! Very worthy of a special occasion! Happy anniversary by the way.
    I’ve never made a Red Velvet cake but I pinned this for a special occasion!

  7. happy anniversary, faith! and might i commend you on your generous frosting usage. yum.

  8. What a cake, and I have had red velvet cake on my mind too. I am not surprised it was so highly critiqued. Happy Anniversary!

  9. Happy Anniversary Faith…the cake is beautiful, very special for such an special occasion. Beautiful pictures of the cake. Have a great week :-)

  10. Congrats on your wedding anniversary! This is the perfect cake for such an occasion, as red is the color of passion and love :) It’s one of my favorite cake flavors, and yours looks beautiful. Wish I could taste it!

  11. I love the recipe for the cake! I make a quick cake that is made the same way. Also the three layers make the cake look so special and delicious…yum!

  12. Happy Anniversary Faith! Your gorgeous cake is indeed special! Such a treat with that rich frosting!

  13. Happy Anniversary, Faith!! What a gorgeous, gorgeous cake. Beautifully done! I am *sure* it was a hit…perfect for a special occasion. Your photos are stunning!

  14. Happy Anniversary! What a special cake for a special occasion. My husband would love all of that buttercream icing :)

  15. Happy anniversary! He is a lucky guy to have someone make him such a special cake. It looks gorgeous and sounds wonderful:)

  16. Wow Faith, love red velvet cakes but I’ve never tried buttercream like this……. and you know I just have to. Thanks for sharing this one & congratulations Lovely…, hope it was a beautiful anniversary too :)

  17. Awwwwwwww, that IS a very special cake! Happy anniversary! You did your baby proud with this beautiful cake. I could just die over that buttercream alone! I love that you turned cream cheese icing into a Swiss Meringue–brilliant! I soooo have to try that.

  18. It IS very special, Faith—congratulations on both your anniversary AND making your first three layer Red Velvet Cake. I recommend going all the way with 3 layers! The Red Velvet Cake is so alluring. I will have to try that cream cheese buttercream recipe–unique and no doubt delicious.

  19. Stunning! Congrats on your first 3-layer assembly, its truly beautiful. Makes me want to whip up more serious layer cakes, that’s for sure! Oh, and yes, of course, Happy Anniversary! :)

  20. Best wishes to you on your anniversary! What a wonderful cake, perfect for the occasion! This looks divine … can’t take my eyes off this gorgeous cake!

  21. Holy moly, Faith, you’re killing me! This looks absolutely divine. Lucky lucky Mike, I tell ya. Happy happy anniversary to the both of you! With I cake like this, I definitely wouldn’t settle for two layers. Heck, I’d ask for 6. Afterall, it may be another 6 years till I see this cake again ;)

  22. congrats to you and Mike! And what a lovely cake to celebrate it with! :)

  23. Happy Anniversary! Awww, that is just too sweet to have made such a gloriously wonderful cake to celebrate. Ya know, there are times when being wary of so much butter and so much cream should just be shoved out the window. This is one of those times. Enjoy, enjoy, ENJOY! ;)

  24. Oh Faith this cake is stunning and I happen to love the indulgence of all this creamy buttery goodness :)
    Happy Anniversary to the both of you!!!

  25. This is gorgeous and a perfect treat to celebrate with. I hope you had a great celebration and that the rest of the food was worthy of this gorgeous cake. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings…Mary

  26. Happy Anniversary to you guys! Congrats on the 6 years of marriage as well as assembling your first-ever 3-layer cake. It looks beautiful and delicious :)

  27. Hi Faith, I haven’t made a layer cake in quite a few years but this is one that I really would like to make. Yes, the butter in the frosting always gives me pause but I think for a special celebration like an anniversary- it’s the perfect splurge;-) Your pictures are gorgeous;-)

  28. This is your first three layer cake? Its gorgeous! Great work!!!And tasty? Heck yah! My favorite part of this post “It’s about to get graphic, in a buttercream-y sort of way.” hahahha. Love it! Enjoy celebrating alll weekend long!

  29. Happy Anniversary!!!!What a delicious looking cake,Faith!

  30. Happy anniversary to you and mike. wishing many more years togetherness. The cake looks fabulous, the frosting is wonderful.

  31. Happy 6th Anniversary! Lots of May anniversaries around the blogosphere! :) What a treat! This looks amazing, Faith! I love the line, “It’s about to get graphic, in a buttercream-y sort of way.” So cute!

  32. Happy Anniversary Faith! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate 6 years than with a cake containing a pound of butter. Sounds amazing!

  33. gorgeous and decadent the cake look! Lovely frosting and clicks, Faith.

  34. The cake is stunner!!
    Many many happy returns to you and Mike ~ Enjoy your day!
    US Masala

  35. Heavenly Housewife says:

    Happy Anniversary daaaaaaahling! I can’t think of a more beautiful cake to celebrate with!
    *kisses* HH

  36. Congratulations and happy anniversary!!!

    It’s a very very gorgeous cake and I wish I could try some! We had red velvet for our top layer wedding cake too =)

  37. Shelly, So excited that you’re thinking of making this frosting, it really is delicious! It has a pretty standard buttercream consistency — soft at room temp but hardens up when chilled. I didn’t try to pipe it, but I think it would pipe nicely if it were just very slightly chilled (maybe 10-15 minutes or so?). If you decide to try it, let me know how it goes!

  38. You definitely went all out on this baby and for such a good cause! 6 years is nothing to be scoffed at! Congrats love!

  39. Happy Anniversary to you and Mike!! Such a wonderful cake to celebrate with. You did a wonderful job with the 3 layers. I bet it was delicious! xo

  40. What a gorgeous cake! so beautiful and tempting. Congrats!



  41. What an impressive cake!
    And congrats on the wedding anniversary!
    My 4th is coming up in a couple of days.

  42. Hi Faith,
    I have a sheet cake to frost & decorate for my daughter’s grad party…is this frosting suitable for decorating? I need to be able to pipe it and wondering about the consistency of it. It sounds yummy… Thanks, Shelly

  43. Happy anniversary! This is a beautiful cake, and I can see why it would be his favorite. I hope he doesn’t have to wait another six years for the next one!

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