For Valentine’s Day last year we released a recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes, but we have leveled up since then. This cake is moist, laced with bright natural cocoa, and inspired by the tangy buttermilk batter of the South. The frosting is made with Miyoko’s cream cheese and Melt vegan butter, which form a rich, high quality base. From there, powdered sugar adds sweetness & stability, vanilla adds flavor, and salt balances it all out.
This cake is not for the faint of heart, as there are many steps, specific baking techniques, and a good deal of patience, but if you’re up for it, the final result is rewarding of every minute spent. If you’ve stuck around the blog for a while, you’re already familiar with the creaming method, how to make parchment rounds, what the difference between natural & dutch processed cocoa are, and when to use baking soda or baking powder. Oh, you’re new here? Well, let us pull from previous posts to catch you up to speed!
- Creaming Method “Oh, “what’s the creaming method,” you ask? Glad you asked – it’s when a solid fat, like coconut oil, is beat together with a crystalline sweetener, like erythritol, until fluffy. Then, wet and dry ingredients are added to the mix in alternate batches until the batter is formed. When crystals from a sweetener are beat with solid fat, tiny holes are poked into the fat, thus aerating the mixture. This procedure creates a lighter baked good than assembling the batter via the muffin method, in which a liquid fat, like melted coconut oil, is simply stirred together with a sweetener, which is why cupcakes are lighter than muffins.”
- How to make parchment rounds
- Natural Cocoa vs Dutch Processed Cocoa
“For culinary purposes, however, there’s only three forms of cocoa powder: Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder, Natural Cocoa Powder, and Cacao Powder. Each of these powders come from the same plant, theobroma cacao, but the differences between them arrives in how they’re processed.
Cacao Powder is made from raw cacao seeds, which still have a large portion of their antioxidants in tact. It’s also lighter in flavor and more acidic than the two cocoa powders. Natural cocoa powder is made from roasted cacao seeds, which lends the powder a smoother and more robust flavor. Dutch processed cocoa powder is also made from roasted cacao seeds, however, once they’re refined into a powder, they’re processed with alkali to bring the acid level of the cocoa to a PH of 7, which creates an even smoother, mellow, and darker cocoa powder than natural cocoa powder.”
- Baking Soda vs Baking Powder
If we’ve talked about this before, we can’t remember what post it was in, so we’ll just start fresh: both baking soda and baking powder are chemical leaveners. When they’re mixed with liquid and heat they release carbon dioxide, giving rise to whatever baked good they find themselves in. The difference between them is their PH levels—baking powder has a balanced PH whereas baking soda is a base. All this means is that if you’re making something that contains an acidic element like buttermilk, lemon, or natural cocoa, you want to use baking soda to balance out its PH. If you’re batter naturally has a neutral PH, such is normally the case with brownies & birthday cakes, then you baking powder is the tool for the job.
In short, acidic batter = baking soda or a mixture of both, neutral batter = baking powder.
We tested this cake with natural cocoa powder as well as dutch processed cocoa powder, but much preferred the bright & fruity flavor of the natural cocoa over the deep, brownie-like essence of the dutch processed cocoa. Plus, because we’re using baking soda as a leavener here, the natural cocoa is balanced out.
We also tested the frosting using a cheap, vegan cream cheese substitute by the brand Tofutti, but the flavor of that version felt cheap, artificial, and overall bleh. When it came time to test our second batch, we knew we had to upgrade to a brand with realistic tang, smooth consistency, and neutral flavor. The first thing that came to mind was Miyoko’s, and it was the perfect fit for the job. Moral of the story, shell out a few bucks for the good stuff—it’s worth it.
All in all, this dessert is:
- Grand, elegant, and romantic
- Moist & fluffy with a medium crumb
- Laced with cocoa, rich, and spiked with vinegar
- Frosting – creamy, tangy, sweet, & smooth
If you like what your eyes are tasting, then share this recipe with your friends on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest at @noeggsorham! For more flame-emoji photos, geeky food talk, and mouth-watering dishes, subscribe to our email list. Tag us in a photo when you create one of our recipes at home so we can share it!
Cake… Cake, cake, cake, cake, cake.
Three Layered Vegan Red Velvet Cake with Tangy Cream Cheese Frosting
Moist, fluffy, & vibrant Southern cake in between layers of thick, creamy, & vanilla-laced frosting made with Miyoko's cream cheese and Melt butter.
- 270 grams (2 1/4 c) all-purpose flour
- 192 grams (1 1/2 c) cake flour
- 30 grams (1/4 c + 2 tbsps) natural cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 432 grams (2 1/4 c) light brown sugar
- 168 grams (3/4 c) Melt vegan butter, room temperature
- 12 oz unsweetened soy milk
- 2 oz (1/4 c) red food coloring
- 3 tbsps distilled or rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsps packed VeganEgg powder + 4.5 oz (1/2 c + 1 tbsp) ice cold water
- 16 oz (2 c) Miyoko’s vegan cream cheese, room temperature
- 8 oz (1 c) Melt vegan butter, room temperature
- ~2 pounds (8 c) powdered sugar, sifted*
- 2 tsps vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
Chocolate Covered Strawberries (optional)
- 1/4 lb strawberries (approximately 7 medium strawberries)
- 2 oz semisweet chocolate chips
- large sea salt flakes
- Pre-heat oven to 325° F. Lightly grease three 8 inch cake pans with a touch of melted butter and line with parchment rounds. Set aside.
- Sift together dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. In a measuring cup, stir together soy milk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
- Whisk together VeganEgg powder with water in a small bowl until smooth (it’ll smell weird at first, but will go unnoticed in the end).
- Weigh the bowl of your stand-up mixer in grams and note it’s weight. This will come in handy later.
- In the bowl of your stand-up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together brown sugar and butter on low until it just comes together, then boost speed to medium-high and beat until it’s fluffy, scraping the sides & bottom of the bowl halfway through; about 4 minutes in total.
- Reduce speed to low, add in half of the VeganEgg, mix until smooth, add rest of the VeganEgg, and mix again. Scrape down the sides and beat for a couple more seconds.
- Now add the dry and wet ingredients in three batches. Start by turning off the mixer, adding a third of the dry ingredients, beating on low until moistened, then boosting the speed to medium until for about 5 seconds. Reduce speed to low, add in a third of the wet mixture, and boost speed to medium until smooth (about 8 seconds).
- Repeat for remaining batches, then scrape down the sides and beat on medium for a couple more seconds to ensure it’s smooth.
- Note: While a smooth batter is desired, don’t overwork it as that’ll create too much gluten. Only mix until until the dry ingredients are no longer visible for each batch then move on. Too much mixing will create a tough cake.
- Evenly distribute batter among prepped cake pans—the best way to do this is to weigh your batter, subtract the weight of your mixer bowl, and divide that number by three (should be around 550 grams per pan).
- Bake on the top rack of your oven until a toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean – 35-45 minutes – rotating the pans at the 20 minute mark.
- Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Place a plate on top, invert the pan to release the cake, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way (at least 2 hours). Repeat for remaining cakes.
- While it cools, prepare frosting. In the bowl of your stand-up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth & homogenous. Scrape down the sides and mix in vanilla & salt until incorporated.
- Add powdered sugar in several batches, mixing ’til each batch is completely smooth before adding the next one. Use as much powdered sugar is needed to create a soft but stable frosting. Refrigerate for at least an hour before using. (Let it loosen at room temp for about 5 minutes before frosting.)
- For chocolate covered strawberries gently melt chocolate in a small bowl as part of a double broiler then use strawberry stems to dip them in until evenly coated. Transfer to a parchment lined cookie sheet, top with sea salt if desired, and allow to set for one hour at room temperature or 30 minutes in the fridge.
- Once cakes are cool, carefully use a long serrated knife or sharp chef’s knife to cut the mounded tops off the cakes. Put a dab of frosting in the middle of a cake stand, place one layer cut-side down, and evenly spread or pipe on a thick layer of frosting. Repeat for remaining layers then frost sides if desired.
- Slice with a sharp chef’s knife and enjoy! Store covered for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
*If the idea of sifting 2 pounds of powdered sugar doesn’t sound very fun, you can place all of that in the bowl of your food processor and blitz on high for about 2 minutes to achieve the same effect!