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Five Layer Red Velvet Cake


Another birthday at work called for another homemade birthday cake!

But not just any cake. The birthday girl requested Red Velvet…so I did a lot of research, merged a couple recipes, threw in a little coffee (sounds weird, but it’s delicious!) and was finally happy with the texture and taste of my red velvet cake layers!

This makes one massive cake. I used one batch of batter to make 5, 8-inch cake layers. They


  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 3/4  cups vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon instant coffee, dissolved in 1 Tbsp boiling water


  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream (or whipping cream)

Red Velvet Cake Batter

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Grease and line 4 or 5 8-inch pans. In a medium bowl, whisk together all purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring. Stir in the coffee, and white vinegar.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients a little at time, mixing after each addition, until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If you don’t have that many pans, you can always divide the batter between five bowls, and let it sit at room temperature until you can bake the next round of cake layers. Each pan or bowl should have about 1 1/2 cups of batter.


Bake in the middle rack for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Keep a close eye on the cakes, you don’t want them to over bake! It will continue to cook as it cools.

You can bake two pans at a time to speed up this process.

Let the layers cool in the pan for about five minutes, then remove them from the pans onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Slide a knife or offset spatula around the inside of the pans to loosen the cake from the pan.


Cream Cheese Frosting

While the cakes cool, make the frosting.

Combine the softened butter, cream cheese, in the a large bowl. Mix together using a stand mixer or hand mixer, until fully combined and smooth.

Add in the vanilla extract, and salt, and mix on a low speed to incorporate the ingredients.

Gradually add in the powdered sugar, mixing on a low speed to prevent powdered sugar explosions!! Mix until the frosting is smooth.


Frost the cake with cream cheese frosting when the cakes have cooled completely.

Lightly frost each layer, and then cover the entire exterior of the cake.

Make sure to alternate the layers top up, top down, to help the cake remain level. 

Cover the cake in a thin layer of frosting, and then chill it in the freezer for 10 minutes to allow it to firm up.

Use the remaining frosting to add a second, thicker layer of frosting. Decorate as desired, then enjoy!


This is the moistest red velvet recipe I’ve ever made.

I was pleasantly surprised by the balance in this cake. It’s not overly sweet, and each ingredient is able to shine.

The frosting is also subtle, and I love that you get a bit of it in each bite since this cake has so many thin layers. This will now be my go-to red velvet recipe 😀


Wednesday 6th of March 2024

I made this one and the smaller version. Both times the cake sunk in the middle and cooked like a donut ? this has never happened to me before . What could I be doing wrong. I've made it both times according to the recipe.


Sunday 10th of March 2024

Hi Andrea,

I'm so sorry to hear that! There can be a ton of reasons why cake layers sink in the middle, so let's troubleshoot together! What type of pans are you using? Are they light colored metal? Are they the same size that the recipe calls for?

I walk through a bunch of different reasons why cake layers sink in the middle here:

Hopefully we'll be able to figure out what's going on together!

Emily Kitchens

Friday 26th of January 2024

I was just wondering why I can’t use Dutch processed cocoa powder? I just bought it for the first time over the standard. Does it do something weird to the cake?

Thanks so much!!


Sunday 28th of January 2024

Hi Emily,

The main problem in this recipe is that it's so much darker than regular cocoa! The layers will be a deeper / less bright shade of red. You can use it and they should bake up ok, but the color won't be quite the same. Hope that helps, happy baking!

Sammi Jo

Monday 17th of April 2023

Hey Chelsea! I’d like to make this for the top tier of my cake. It would be 3 layers of 4in size pans. Would I be able to quarter the recipe you think? - Sammi Jo


Sunday 23rd of April 2023

Hi Sammi Jo,

I think we messaged about this on IG!! I hope it turns out great :)

Teresa Delgado

Tuesday 15th of February 2022

Hello, I want to make this recipe into cupcakes, with this recipe for frosting, would it be stabilized enough to frost with?


Tuesday 7th of December 2021

325* for 30 min in 4 9" cake pans 2 cups of batter