Photo of Gaya's Cakes Red Velvet Cake slice

What is red velvet cake made of?

According to a National Pudding Day survey, Red Velvet cake comes 4th in the nation's favourite cakes, with 8% of us ranking it as our favourite! But what actually is red velvet cake, and what makes it different from another of the nation’s favourites: the humble chocolate cake? We hope you’re not hungry, because in this article we are going to dive into what red velvet cake is made out of and why it is not the same as chocolate cake. Let’s get into it.

What is red velvet cake?

Funnily enough, red velvet cake is a red-coloured sponge cake with a velvety texture. It is a buttermilk-based chocolate sponge cake that is typically sandwiched and coated in a cream cheese frosting.

Its vibrant contrast of white icing against the deep red colour of the sponge, as well as its rich taste and smooth texture, has made it a very popular choice for wedding cakes, birthday cakes and Valentine’s Day treats for the last 10 years.

Despite its recent surge in popularity, red velvet cake isn’t a new trend. In fact, red velvet cake was conceptualised in the 1800s when cocoa was added to traditional sponge cakes to make them feel more luxurious. When vinegar, baking soda or buttermilk was added to the cocoa recipe, the acidic reaction produced a red-tint. Today, the red colour of the cake is enhanced with food colouring.

What are the ingredients in red velvet cake?

The ingredients in red velvet cake can vary from baker to baker, as people have different tastes and some may prefer a less intense flavour or a more dense texture than others. However, a standard red velvet cake will typically be made of the following ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour: Provides structure to the cake.
  • Cocoa powder: Adds chocolate flavour and contributes to the signature red colour when combined with acidic ingredients.
  • Baking soda: Acts as a raising agent.
  • Salt: Enhances the flavour.
  • Buttermilk: Adds moisture and a slight tanginess to the cake.
  • Vegetable oil or butter: Contributes moisture and richness.
  • Granulated sugar: Sweetens the cake.
  • Eggs: Provide structure and help with raising.
  • Red food colouring: Gives the cake its characteristic red colour. The amount may vary depending on the recipe and personal preference.
  • White vinegar or lemon juice: Reacts with the baking soda to further raise the cake and intensify the red colour.
  • Cream cheese frosting: Often used to sandwich and coat red velvet cakes, made with cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.

What is the difference between red velvet cake and chocolate cake?

The main difference between red velvet cake and chocolate cake are the ingredients used. While they share some common ingredients, red velvet cake has less cocoa powder than chocolate cake, making its flavour less intensely chocolatey than its neighbour. As well as this, red velvet cake contains buttermilk, creating a more tangy, less sweet taste, and a denser texture. 

Chocolate cake is often filled and iced with a chocolate ganache or a chocolate buttercream, whereas red velvet cake is traditionally filled and topped with a cream cheese frosting, complementing the tangy taste from the buttermilk. 

The other obvious difference is the colour. Chocolate cake uses a lot more cocoa powder than red velvet cake does, meaning that its colouring is a lot richer and darker. Red velvet, on the other hand, gets its colour from the chemical reaction between the white vinegar or lemon juice, buttermilk and the cocoa, which is often enhanced with the addition of red food colouring. 

Additionally, red velvet cake is a different texture to chocolate cake. Chocolate cake tends to be more fudgy and moist than red velvet cake - which is traditionally more light and crumbly. The acidic ingredients and buttermilk included in the red velvet recipe lend themselves to this lighter bite.

How Gaya’s Cakes can help

At Gaya’s Cakes, we are on a mission to bring you the best tasting and most beautifully crafted cakes. Through meticulously tested recipes, we bake cakes that, first and foremost, taste amazing, but also wow our customers with their elegant, bold designs.

We pride ourselves on our creative flair and passion that goes into every cake, brownie and sweet treat that we make. In our opinion, our red velvet cake is the most delicious one in London, and we only use the best ingredients to ensure that our customers enjoy every last bite.

In addition to our Red Velvet cake, we also offer a wide range of other cakes and treats for every occasion. From picturesque wedding cakes to decedent brownies, we have a sweet treat to suit everyone. Gaya makes and decorates all of our cakes with the finest ingredients to ensure that our customers get top quality products every time.

Browse our range of cakes, cupcakes, desserts and postal treats on our website, or contact us today to discuss a bespoke cake that meets your specific requirements.