Red Velvet Butterfly Birthday Cake Recipe

I bought that fancy red gel food colouring to dye the sugar paste for the wedding cake flowers so I figured I may as well use it for something else too.


I had never even considered making a red velvet cake before, I had never even tasted one! I’ve never been into using food colouring, let alone in the quantities that a red velvet cake requires. But I was curious about all the fuss people make about a red cake with what appears to be no defining flavour.

And I had all this fancy food colouring.

At least I wouldn’t have to use a whole bottle of the liquid stuff like most recipes do.

As I have never tried one before, I don’t have anything to compare it too. It is a very nice cake though. It’s light, fluffy and very moist. It rises wonderfully and the bright red colour is exciting. As for flavour, well, there is a very discreet hint chocolate and vanilla but really its all in the frosting. The cream cheese frosting, YUM!


I imagine you have guessed that this cake was the middle layer of the wedding cake. The grooms mum’s birthday coincided with the manic cake testing week so I made it into her cake 😉

Not the best photo, again. I didn’t want to be all stuck up and recut the cake for a photo because she hadn’t done it tidely… But at least you can see the vivid colour and texture.


The Recipe

I used this recipe from a very interesting food history blog 🙂 She also has her recipes in cups and grams which is great!


2 tsp of gel food colouring
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g softened butter
300g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt
250 grams of self raising flour with 2 tbs of cornflour included
250ml buttermilk or sour milk (1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice plus milk to equal 250ml I used the lemon juice version)
1 tsp distilled white vinegar
1 tsp baking soda

Cream cheese frosting:

225g cream cheese
115g unsalted butter, softened
450g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

I used just 250g of icing sugar and still found it incredibly sweet as did the groom. For the wedding cake I used a butter based frosting so it would keep better out of the fridge: 2 parts icing sugar, 1 part softened butter. Then add 1 part cream cheese to 5 parts butter mixture with lemon zest and juice. The lemon cuts through the sweetness.

For the 10″ wedding cake I used 500 g icing sugar, 250g butter and 150g of cream cheese. Begin whisking the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, fold in the cold cream cheese and lemon to taste

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease and flour two 9- by 2-inch round or three 8- by 1½-inch round baking pans or one 8″ square like I did.

To make the batter:
Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
Add the food colouring and vanilla.
Add the eggs one at a time, if it starts to curdle add a tbs or two of flour.
Sift all the dry ingredients together separately, except for the baking soda.
Alternate adding the flour and the buttermilk to the mixture. About 4 portions of flour and 3 of milk, beginning and ending with flour.
Be careful not to over beat but also make sure its all well combined.
Mix the baking soda with the vinegar, it will foam! Add to the mixture, fold in and pour it gently in the tin.
Bake for about 25-30 mins until a skewer comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.

Make the frosting as above.

Slice the cake in half if using one tin. Fill and cover the cake and decorate to your liking! I made these butterflies out of sugar paste and hand painted them with diluted food colouring, I’ll get a tutorial up soon!


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