With less food coloring than traditional recipes call for, this red velvet looks more like an elegant mauve velvet; the balance of cocoa powder, butter, sugar, eggs, and sour cream gives it an almost fudgy flavor. Swoops of tangy cream-cheese frosting offset the cake's richness, as well as its striking hue.

Martha Stewart Living, January/February 2021


Credit: Con Poulos

Recipe Summary

35 mins
2 hrs 15 mins
Serves 10 to 12




Instructions Checklist
  • Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush a 9-by-13-inch or 8-by-12-inch baking pan with butter. Line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on long sides. Butter parchment.

  • Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Combine eggs and granulated sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until thick and pale, about 4 minutes. Add flour mixture; beat just to combine. Add butter, food coloring, and vanilla; beat to combine. Add sour cream; beat until smooth.

  • Scrape batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with a spatula. Bake until top springs back when lightly touched and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes (for 9-by-13-inch) or about 40 minutes (for 8-by-12).

  • Let cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Using parchment overhangs, lift out of pan; let cool completely on rack. (Cake can be made to this point and stored at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, up to 1 day.)

  • Frosting: Beat together cream cheese, butter, and confectioners' sugar on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Spread frosting over cake. Frosted cake is best the day it's assembled, but can be refrigerated, wrapped in plastic, up to 1 day. Return to room temperature before serving.