Pink Velvet Cake

pink velvet cake

The Spruce / Jessie Sheehan

  • Total: 56 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 26 mins
  • Cooling Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 1 (8-inch) cake (10 slices)

A pink velvet cake, for the uninitiated, is pink in name only. It is not unlike a red velvet cake, save for the fact that it is pink, not red, and does not call for cocoa powder. In other words, a pink velvet cake is really a yellow cake tinted pink with a bit of red food coloring. It is hands-down one of the prettiest cakes, particularly for those of us that love the color pink. And, because this recipe calls for making the cake in a single bowl, it is also one of the easiest. 

The cake layers come together quickly, bake up in less than 20 minutes, and—if you place the just baked-cakes in the freezer to cool while you whip up the frosting—you can be eating pink layer cake within about an hour of realizing you’re craving one.

And, speaking of the frosting, it is an old-school American buttercream, ultra-creamy (due to a long mixing time) and not too sweet (due to the addition of a little vinegar).

Ingredients

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (divided)
  • 1 whole egg 
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt (divided)
  • Several drops of red food coloring
  • 1 cup room temperature unsalted butter
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar (sifted)
  • 2/3 cup room temperature heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • Optional: sprinkles or sanding sugar for decorating

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients and preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans with cooking spray or softened butter and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

    pink cake ingredients
  2. Combine the sugar, oil, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl and whisk vigorously to combine. 

    creamed sugar
  3. Add the egg and the yolks, one at a time, whisking after each addition to incorporate. Add the buttermilk, and whisk a final time.

    cake with eggs
  4. Using a fine wire-mesh sieve, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the mixing bowl. With a rubber spatula, fold gently to combine, stopping when a few streaks of dry ingredients are still visible, so as not to over mix.

    cake batter
  5. Add the red coloring, a drop at a time, mixing after each, until the batter is the desired color. 

    pink batter
  6.  Divide the batter between the two prepared pans. Bake for about 24 to 26 minutes rotating the cakes at the halfway point. The cake layers are done when a toothpick comes out clean or with only a moist crumb or two.

    Let the cakes cool to room temp before frosting.

    baked cake
  7.  To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-low until smooth. 

    creamed butter
  8. Add half the confectioners' sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, half the cream, the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla and the vinegar and mix on medium-low until combined, and very smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.

    half way done icing
  9. Add the remaining half of the confectioners’ sugar and the cream, with the mixer running to incorporate, and then increase speed to medium high and whip for 5 to 7 minutes, until the frosty is light and fluffy.

    finished frosting
  10. Once cake layers have cooled completely, frost the cake layers, decorating the top with pink sprinkles, if you are feeling fancy.

    final cake

Tips

  • Don't forget to bring the butter for the frosting to room temperature. There is nothing more depressing than preparing to make buttercream frosting and realizing your butter is rock hard.
  • While preparing the frosting, you can placing the cake layers in the freezer to speed up the cooling time, allowing you to assemble the cake quickly.
  • Frosted cake will last up to one week, covered, in the refrigerator.
  • You can also freeze the cake layers, wrapped in plastic wrap and then tinfoil, for up to a month before frosting and assembling the cake. 
  • You can also make the cake and frost it and then freeze it. Just place it on a cookie sheet in the freezer to freeze, and once frozen carefully wrap it in plastic wrap and tinfoil before freezing, for up to a month. 

Variations

  • You can use beet or strawberry juice to tint the cake pink, if you do not want to use red food coloring. 
  • You can also color the frosting pink, or any other color of your liking for contrast before frosting the cake.