Red Velvet Valentine's Cake

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Prep time
45 mins
Cooking time
1 h

This Red Velvet Valentine's Cake is based on a modern classic. And is perfect for the one you love on February 14th.


  • 300ml vegetable oil, plus extra for the tins
  • 500g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 560g light brown soft sugar
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 400ml buttermilk
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 30ml red food colouring gel or about ¼ tsp food colouring paste
  • 4 large eggs

For the icing

  • 250g slightly salted butter, at room temperature
  • 750g icing sugar
  • 350g tub full-fat soft cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
  2. Oil and line the base and sides of one 20cm round cake tin and one 20cm square cake tin (or two of each if you have them!) with baking parchment – if your cake tins are quite shallow, line the sides to a depth of at least 5cm. 
  3. Of course, if you have heart shaped cake tin, use that!
  4. Sieve the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl and mix well.
  5. Mix the buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract, food colouring and 100ml water in a jug.
  6. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until well combined.
  7. The cake mixture should be bright red, it will get a little darker as it cooks.
  8. If it’s not as vivid as you’d like, add a touch more colouring.
  9. Pour the cake mixture evenly into the tins (or half if you are using one of each), and bake for 25-30 mins, or until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  10. Cool in the tins for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack, peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool.
  11. Repeat previous two steps with the remaining ingredients if you are using two tins, so you have four sponge cakes in total.
  12. Can be made up to three days ahead and will stay moist if wrapped in cling film, or you can wrap well and freeze for up to two months.

To make the icing.

  1. Put the butter in a large bowl and sieve in the icing sugar.
  2. Roughly mash together with a spatula, then whizz with a hand mixer until smooth.
  3. Add the soft cheese and vanilla, sieve in the remaining icing sugar, mash together again, then blend once more with the hand mixer.

To assemble the cake.

  1. Stick one of the square sponges to a cake stand or board with a little of the soft cheese icing.
  2. Cut the round cakes in half and place two on the diagonal edges of the square one.

  3. Use roughly one third of the icing to stack the remaining cakes on top, spreading a generous amount between the layers.
  4. Pile half the remaining icing on top of the assembled cake, and use a palette knife to ease it over the edges, covering the entire surface of the cake until smooth.
  5. Use the rest of the icing (coloured if you like) to decorate as you wish. Google “heart shaped cake” for tons of inspiration.

Cook's notes

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days, but bring back to room temperature for an hour or so before eating.

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