Rachel Allen's red velvet cake recipe

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Rachel Allen's red velvet cake coated in snowy white icing but cuts open to reveal its beautiful burgundy layers.

Rachel Allen's red velvet cake, iced with one slice taken out
(Image credit: Getty / Robert Lowdon)
Preparation Time30 mins
Cooking Time30 mins (plus cooling and setting time)
Total Time1 hours
Cost RangeCheap

Rachel Allen's red velvet cake is one of our favourite cakes to make at home to really impress your friends and family. 

Cutting through the snowy white icing to reveal the deep red layers inside is so impressive, it never fails to delight. It's a real showstopper, especially for birthdays or Valentine's Day. Red velvet cake comes about because of a chemical reaction between the cocoa and acid, but to guarantee the right redness here, Rachel uses red food colouring as well. This makes it pretty foolproof. This cakes takes about an hour to bake, then you need time for it too cool before adding the frosting. It serves around 10-12 people, depending how large you like your slices. 


  • 150g butter, softened
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 250g plain flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 level tbsp good quality cocoa powder
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • Red food colouring (use 2 tbsp liquid colour or ½ tsp thick red food paste)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the white frosting:

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 50g golden syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract




  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Butter and flour the sides of 2 x 23cm (9in) diameter sandwich tins, each about 5cm (2in) deep. Line the bases with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and the egg yolks, one by one, beating well after each addition.
  3. Place the flour, cornflour, baking powder and cocoa powder in a sieve resting on a plate. Measure the buttermilk with the food colouring and mix together. It should be very red, so add more if you need to.
  4. Sift one-third of the dry ingredients into the butter and eggs mixture until just combined, then pour in one-third of the buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined. Continue, combining a third at a time, until both are incorporated.
  5. Whisk the egg whites and salt in a large, spotlessly clean bowl until stiffish peaks form. Add one-quarter to the batter and mix. Add the remaining egg whites in three stages, folding them in gently with a large metal spoon until just incorporated, leaving as much air in the egg whites as possible.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda until it bubbles up, then gently fold this into the batter. Quickly pour the batter into the two prepared tins and smooth the tops. Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean and the cakes feel slightly springy on top.
  7. Leave in the tins for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the cakes from the tins, running a table knife or a palette knife slowly around them to loosen them, and invert them onto a wire rack to cool.
  8. To make the white frosting, place the egg whites, sugar, golden syrup, salt, cream of tartar and water in a stainless steel or heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. (The base of the bowl should not touch the water.) Bring the water to a steady simmer. With a hand-held electric beater or a balloon whisk (to build up your muscles!), whisk the mixture until you have shiny, satiny soft peaks. Remove the bowl from the simmering water and continue to whisk for a further 2 minutes – it will get a bit stiffer. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
  9. Immediately ice the middle, top and sides of the cake with a palette knife, fluffing the frosting up to form little peaks all over the cake. You need to work fast to ice the cake, as the icing sets very quickly. Leave for at least 30 minutes to allow a thin crust to form outside a creamy interior.

Top tip for making Rachel Allen's red velvet cake

After the cakes have cooled completely and before frosting, cover them loosely with cling film and place them in the freezer for 30 minutes–1 hour. This really helps when it comes to icing delicate crumbly cakes.

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Rachel Allen
Celebrity chef

Rachel Allen's first television series, called Rachel’s Favourite Food, was broadcast in 2004 throughout Ireland, Canada, Australia, and Europe. A book of the same name accompanied the series, giving viewers a true insight into Rachel’s special brand of family-orientated cooking and recipes. Since then she has authored more than eight different cookery books, which have sold more than 1 million copies worldwide. You may have also seen Rachel's name in the Irish Magazine or The Sunday Tribune or on BBC's Saturday Kitchen or on her own popular cooking show on Ireland's RTE network. From simple one-pot meals and roast dinners to your favourite sweet treats, we’ve got all of the best Rachel Allen recipes to choose from for perfect family meals.