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Montclair Martha's Red Velvet Cake

This rendition of a Southern specialty gets its deep-red hue from food coloring and comes from Martha Stewart -- not our Martha but her namesake, a home cook from Montclair, New Jersey.

  • Yield: Makes one 8-inch cake
Montclair Martha's Red Velvet Cake

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, September 2005


  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted, plus more for pans
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 one-ounce bottles liquid red food coloring
  • 3 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • Cream Cheese Frosting for Red Velvet Cake


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, and butter again. Dust with flour, and tap out the excess; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, cocoa, and baking powder; set aside.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 15 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, salt, food coloring, and water; beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until well combined. Add reserved dry ingredients in additions, alternating with the buttermilk; beat on low speed until well combined.

  3. In a small bowl, stir together baking soda and vinegar; add to batter. Beat on medium speed for 10 seconds. Be sure not to overbeat. Divide batter between prepared pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove pans from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack; let stand until completely cool.

  4. Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes so surfaces are level. Place a layer on a cake stand or cardboard round, and spread about 1/3 of the frosting over top. Place the second layer on top, and spread with the remaining frosting over the tops and sides of assembled cake. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill until ready to serve.

Reviews (25)

  • Bakebake7 29 Jun, 2012

    Terrible recipe. In addition to other baked goods, I bake a cake about once a week and everything works out perfectly. This cake took way too long to bake, was overly sweet, the tops collapsed, and the sides fell off. I'm sticking with the REAL Martha's Red Velvet recipe.

  • luscious1cakes 15 Sep, 2011

    I found this recipe on this site a couple of years ago. You can't go wrong with this recipe TRUST ME!!! I saw someone in the grocery store buying a slice of Red Velvet Cake. I told him the cake he has is not good from this store. He said i love their cake and I told him to give me a call. After I made the cake and gave him a slice, he ordered the cake from me. He told me ever since he tasted my cakes he cannot go back to buying store bought.

  • karenfromvegas 4 Jul, 2011

    This is a wonderful recipe. The cake is very light and could also be used as a "light chocolate" cake without the red food coloring. The directions state to use 8 inch round by 2 inch tall pans -- and this is important since the batter is fluffy after after adding in the baking soda/vinegar ingredients. My pans were only 1-1/2 inches tall and the batter ran over! I cut up the cake itno squares and made a red, white and blue trifle with blueberries and whipped cream.

  • freetheharpy 23 May, 2011

    A friend was craving a red velvet cake and so I gave this recipe a try. I was so happily surpised at how moist the cake turned out to be. I would use this recipe over any others. Everyone loved it.

  • Nahhhla 11 Oct, 2010

    Will This Recipe Work Without The Paddle Attachment ?

  • Nahhhla 11 Oct, 2010

    Will This Recipe Work Without The Paddle Attachment ?

  • Nate78526 19 Jul, 2010

    Use Apple Cider Vinegar, it is a little sweeter naturally.
    White Vinegar is just bland get flavor when you can.

  • casey94 17 Jun, 2010

    this cake is pretty good..i used my aunt's cream cheese frosting recipe, 1 lb powdered sugar, 1 stick butter, 8oz cream cheese, and a tsp of vanilla. just enough.

  • Aussieronnie 16 Feb, 2010

    Recently moved to USA found everyone buying red velvet cakes for valentines, remembering my husbands grandmother gave this recipe to me in 1984, but called it Waldolf red cake.
    Aussie Ron

  • TraveLynn 1 Jul, 2009

    This cake recipe is wonderful; I didn't use the icing so I cannot comment on that. I made a 1/4 sheet cake with this recipe and it was fabulous.

  • kookybaker 4 May, 2009

    When I make this cake again, I am going to use 1 1/2 times the amount of frosting. There just wasn't quite enough to spread it very thickly on the cake. Otherwise, it turned out great!

  • jkshrader 15 Apr, 2009

    This cake tastes amazing! I have never been a fan of red velvet cake, but it is my boyfriends favorite so tried this out for his birthday. This recipe definitely changed my mind, and the frosting is great too!

  • ygvoros 22 Jan, 2009

    This is an awesome cake recipe. I've made it several times. It's always perfect and delicious. My In-laws who are picky when it comes to food Loved it, I love it as well it's my favorite cake and i'm not a big fan of cake!! Amazing!!

  • DebbyKelly 15 Jan, 2009

    I've used this recipe several times now, and always get great comments as to taste and texture. The recipe is easy to follow and bakes beautifully every time.

  • Lovecarrotcake 17 Dec, 2008

    Yes, the recipe is wonderful. I make it every holiday season for the family and work and I get many compliments on the texture, color and taste.

  • thmalmed 3 Nov, 2008

    This cake was very good, the girls at work loved it so did I. In Norway they are not seeling buttermilk in the store, so i didnt use that. I used somthing called skummet kulturmelk it`s almost the same.
    For the people in Norway I used naturel kremost, I used two boxes in the recepise it stod 1,5 box.

    The cake was good still at the fourth day as the first day.

  • mrscockburn 19 Oct, 2008

    try freezing the cake for about an hour before icing - i found this made life much easier!

  • djwendy 6 Sep, 2008

    I remember seeing once in a show on the food network, (I think it was "Barefoot Contessa") where she added a splash of freshly brewed coffee to the batter of the Red Velvet cake to "pump-up" the flavor. ;o)

  • Desperanza 2 Aug, 2008

    We have an allergy problem in our family with red food coloring.
    I have read of recipes where the red color was gained by using beets, and, before the Dutch style of processed cocoa was used, a chemical reaction with the cocoa is said to have also caused a red color.[see Wikipedia].
    Does anyone have a recipe with natural red coloring?
    Many thanks

  • jdomino 21 Jul, 2008

    I love red velvet and am always looking for new receipes. I tasted the plain cupcake and I thought it lacked flavor. I also added 1 tablespoon of oil to give it more moisture. The texture was great, but something was missing taste wise. would not reccomend.

  • cae_021 16 May, 2008

    the rest of my comment seemed to have been eaten. all in all, a wonderful cake, flavourful magnificent texture.

  • cae_021 14 May, 2008

    This is my 2nd try @ red velvet cake

  • ruby_robbins 16 Mar, 2008

    Yummy, easy, fun to do with the kids as cake or cupcakes!

  • pastrymama 20 Feb, 2008

    This is a wonderful cake, very tender and moist. I always have to make it for peoples birthdays at work. I use a milk and flour based buttercream with it. This cake is so delicious and makes great cupcakes also.

  • woodensandals 24 Dec, 2007

    This is an excellent recipe and was so easy to make. The cake was fluffy and moist, the icing was creamy and sweet, and when you cut that first slice to reveal the red cake everyone gets hungry. Thank you to Martha from Montclair!

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