Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Red Velvet Christmas Cake

Red Velvet Christmas Cake is moist, tender and utterly delicious. Make this impressive dessert for your holiday table!

Title text (a slice shown on a plate): Red Velvet Christmas Cake

With all of the seasonal cooking and baking, it’s nice to have a simple recipe that will produce a stunning result.

That’s why I love that you can make this red velvet recipe with cake mix from your pantry!

If you need more Christmas cake ideas, try this Cranberry Almond Christmas Cake. It’s a moist butter cake that’s bursting with flavor and comes together quickly.

Plus, it bakes in a casserole dish and is ready to serve straight out of the oven!

Christmas Pinwheel Cookies and my Pecan Toffee (Christmas Crack Recipe) also make a great addition to your holiday dessert table, and both are very easy to make.

mixing red velvet cake recipe

What is red velvet cake?

Here’s a secret - it’s just chocolate cake! It typically includes buttermilk or sour cream to make it moist and dense, as well as vinegar, giving it a bit of tangy flavor.

The color originally came from the red hue of the cocoa powder that was used in the batter. Over time, bakers started to use food coloring to make the color appear bolder.

cake pans with red velvet Christmas cake

How To Make Red Velvet Christmas Cake

  • Bake The Cakes
Mix the batter, divide between your cake pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

I like to make this red velvet recipe with cake mix so there is less to measure, but feel free to start from scratch or use your favorite homemade cake mix.

You can replace buttermilk with buttermilk substitute if necessary. Just combine 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

  • Make Sugared Cranberries
While the cakes are in the oven, bring sugar and water to a boil on the stove.

Then, remove from heat and stir in the cranberries until well coated.

Roll in sugar twice until they look frosted and dry completely before using.

  • Frost and Assemble
Whip up a batch of cream cheese frosting once your cakes are cooled, and trim your cakes if needed so they are flat on the top.

Spread a layer of frosting on top of the first cake, then stack the second layer on top and repeat.

Finally, apply a thin layer around the outside of the cake and top with the sugared cranberries.

Kitchen tools needed for this Red Velvet Cake recipe

  • Stand mixer or large mixing bowl with hand mixer for both the batter and the frosting.
  • 8” Cake Pan - You will need two to make this cake.
  • Medium Saucepan - Heats evenly and is easy to clean too.
  • Cooling Racks - I like these because you can cool a lot of treats without taking up a lot of counter space.
  • Offset Spatula - This spatula has so many uses and is perfect for a smooth finish on the frosting.
  • Red Gel Coloring - This is so much easier to work with, and it’s concentrated so you don’t need to use as much.
red velvet cake recipe with cake mix

Helpful Tips For Coloring Cake

A lot will depend on what color you are using and how it interacts with the ingredients in your cake.

Regardless, it’s best to aim for your batter to be a little darker than you’d like since the shade tends to lighten after it’s been baked.

  • Use Gel Coloring - Liquid food coloring isn’t as concentrated and can change the consistency of the recipe you are working on. You can find gel coloring in the cake decorating aisle, and I highly recommend it over traditional liquid dyes.
  • Need a Natural Alternative? - If you prefer, you can use beet root powder or a liquid beet juice concentrate to color your cake. I promise it won’t taste like vegetables!
  • Increase The Acid - The lower the pH is in your cake, the brighter the red color will appear. Buttermilk and sour cream add acidity, as well as lemon juice or vinegar. When making batter from scratch, you can replace baking soda with baking powder as well.
  • Lower The Heat - Overheating can cause color deterioration, so baking at 325 instead of the usual 350 will also help keep colors vibrant.


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Christmas Cake ideas

Yield: 1 double-layered 8” cake
Author: Donna Elick
Red Velvet Christmas Cake

Red Velvet Christmas Cake

Red velvet Christmas cake is tender and moist with just a hint of tang. Make this dessert for a gorgeous centerpiece on your holiday table!
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 30 MinTotal time: 40 Minutes (plus 30-60 minutes to cool)


For the cake
  • 1 (15.2 ounce) box of white cake mix
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 oz bottle McCormick red food coloring (or 1 tablespoon red gel food coloring)
For the frosting
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup sugared cranberries for garnishing (directions below)
  • 1/4 cup non-sugared cranberries for garnishing
Sugared Cranberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cup raw organic sugar (divided)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries (washed)


For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (will reduce to 325°F before baking).
  2. Using a hand mixer, mix the cake mix and buttermilk together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Mix in sour cream and melted butter.
  4. Add eggs and mix well.
  5. Next, add the unsweetened baking cocoa and pure vanilla extract.
  6. Once the batter is smooth, add the red food coloring and mix well.
  7. Spray two 8” round cake pans with cooking spray and dust with flour.
  8. Transfer batter evenly between two cake pans.
  9. Reduce oven to 325°F and bake for 26-31 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the cake and comes out clean.
  10. While the cake bakes, make your sugar cranberries.
  11. Once your cakes are done, remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  12. While the cakes cool, make the frosting.
  13. For the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter together.
  14. Add the vanilla and mix well.
  15. Slowly stir in the powdered sugar until smooth.
  16. Put your first cake bottom down on the cake stand. You can dab a little frosting on the cake stand before adding the cake.
  17. Frost the first layer and then put the second layer top down. If your cake has a little dome, you may want to trim the dome off so it’s flat.
  18. Frost cake and garnish with sugared cranberries and a few regular cranberries for an extra pop of red. Sprinkle any excess sugar mixture from cranberries on the top of the cake (optional).
  19. Store cake in the refrigerator because of the cream cheese frosting. Remove cake 30-45 minutes before serving so that it can get soft.
  20. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Sugared Cranberries
  1. Combine 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar in a sauce pan and heat on medium heat.
  2. Once sugar is dissolved completely and starts to boil, remove from heat and add cranberries to the mixture and coat completely.
  3. In two bowls, divide the 1 cup of sugar.
  4. Spoon cranberries into one of the bowls of sugar and coat.
  5. Then using a fork or your fingers, roll cranberries a few at a time in the other bowl of sugar to get it even more coated with dry sugar.
  6. Place cranberries on a cooling rack to dry completely. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.
  1. For the Sugared Cranberries - you can use regular granulated sugar, I just like the look of raw organic sugar once it dries.

Title text (a slice shown on a plate): Red Velvet Christmas Cake

Originally published December 2020


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