Looking for a fun red velvet dessert idea? Bake up this Red Velvet Ombre Cake! It’s a tasty dessert with a unique ‘wow’ factor when you slice into it!
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As I’ve referenced many times before, my wife is a scientist. I am not. I am a liberal arts guy. I studied public policy and classical studies in college. I wrote a dissertation on college athletics at small, Division III colleges and universities. Her dissertation? “The fabrication of thin-walled steel alloys through the gas carburization…” Oh, the title continues on. tl;dr. (I kid…well sorta!)
I bring up my wife’s complete nerdiness for a legit reason here. This Red Velvet Ombre Cake (indeed, all red velvet cakes) is the perfect combination of our skills. It obviously involves baking, so you can put a checkmark next to my name. However, red velvet cakes involve a bit of science, too. Red velvet cakes are made with cocoa powder, buttermilk and vinegar. Those are essential elements that should be found in any red velvet cake recipe. Red velvet is more than just red food dye!
Cocoa powder reacts with acids, and vinegar is an acid. This reaction is what produces the iconic red color of red velvet cakes. Well, I should say traditionally produced. Red velvet cakes used to be more of a deep maroon color, but nowadays they are typically bright red. That’s thanks to the addition of red food coloring. I do use red food coloring in this Red Velvet Ombre Cake, but I also stay true to the flavors of red velvet by including cocoa powder, buttermilk and vinegar.
Red Velvet Ombre Cake
I often associate red velvet desserts with Valentine’s Day because of the, well, red color. Obvi, right? And that association is so strong in my brain that I actually start craving red velvet desserts as soon as the calendar rolls over to February 1. The brain and its’ associations are funny like that!
For this version, I hit the kitchen with the goal of creating a Red Velvet Ombre Cake. One layer of red velvet. One layer of white. One layer somewhere in-between. I had fun with this recipe! The concept was rather simple – divide the cake batter into 3 bowls and add different amounts of ingredients to each. The red velvet layer got the most cocoa powder and food coloring. The middle layer got some. The white layer got none. (I feel like I’m telling Robbie the nursery tale of “This Little Piggy!” Fortunately, this cake doesn’t involve roast beef…)
In addition to the layers of cake, I was tempted to shade the frosting from white to red in true ombre cake fashion. However, most red velvet cakes use an entirely white cream cheese frosting. Red (or pink) frosting isn’t traditional for red velvet cakes. Thus I went with an all-white frosting. (The truth is I had already cleaned enough bowls that day. I wasn’t in the mood to clean more!)
If you’re looking for a fun dessert for Valentine’s Day (or really any day…), then put this Red Velvet Ombre Cake on the list. It was a huge hit here in our house! Happy baking!
Did you make this Red Velvet Ombre Cake at home? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog) – I’d love to see your version!
Red Velvet Ombre Cake
For the Cake
For the Cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Grease or spray (3) 9” round baking pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper.
- Using a countertop mixer, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (~3-4 minutes).
- Add eggs to the bowl; mix on low speed until fully combined.
- Using a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar, and vanilla extract.
- Add ½ of the dry mixture to the bowl of the countertop mixer; mix on low speed until fully combined.
- Add ½ of the liquid mixture to the bowl of the countertop mixer; mix on low speed until fully combined.
- Repeat with remaining dry and liquid ingredients. Once all ingredients have been added, scrape the sides of the bowl down with a spatula and mix on low speed until batter is smooth.
- Divide batter evenly into 3 mixing bowls.
- Add 2 tsp of cocoa powder and 4 tsp of red food coloring to one of the bowls; whisk together until well combined. Transfer batter into one of the prepared baking pans. This will be the “red layer.”
- Add remaining 1 tsp of cocoa powder and remaining 1 tsp of red food coloring to another bowl; whisk together until well combined. Transfer batter into one of the prepared baking pans. This will be the “pink layer.”
- Transfer the batter from the final mixing bowl into the remaining baking pan. This will be the “white layer.”
- Bake at 350°F for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each layer comes out clean.
- Let cakes cool in pans for 15 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack until completely cool. (Note: Remove parchment paper from bottom of cakes when transferring them to the cooling rack.)
For the Frosting
- Using a countertop mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter until fully combined.
- Add vanilla extract and 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time until frosting reaches desired consistency.
- Place “red layer” of cake on large platter. Spread ~1 cup of frosting on top.
- Place “pink layer” on top. Spread ~1 cup of frosting on top.
- Place “white layer” on top. Spread remaining frosting on top and sides of cake.
Looking for more red velvet desserts? Check out some of these other favorites, too: