I've noticed that people either love red velvet, or they're not quite sure what all the fuss is about. Well I'm here to convert the unsure crowd! It's not just a red coloured cake let me tell you! Because it's made with buttermilk you get an extra moist and very light cake - what's not to like about that! Then there's a hint of chocolate and the sweet tang of the cream cheese frosting. I'm actually salivating as I write this!! If you're still unsure, then get baking this Red Velvet Traybake. It has a lovely light sponge that melts in the mouth, and it's smothered in totally droolworthy cream cheese frosting! This would be a great bake sale recipe or Valentine's Day treat for your loved ones.
For the full recipe with measurements, head to the recipe card at the end of this post.
How to make a Red Velvet Traybake
To make the sponge, mix butter and sugar together until fluffy. Then whisk in eggs, buttermilk, vanilla extract and red food colouring. Finally add self raising flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder.
Pour the mixture into a traybake tin and bake it for 25 minutes.
To make the cream cheese frosting mix butter and icing sugar together, then mix in cream cheese and vanilla extract. You can decorate the Red Velvet Traybake with some heart shaped sprinkes, leave it plain or decorate with sprinkles of your choice.
What is the best food colouring to use?
To get a bright red shade that remains strong after the traybake is baked you need to use a professional grade gel food colouring. You can buy these easily from many online shops, including amazon. I used the brand Pro Gel for this traybake, I also regularly use the brand Sugarflair.
What if you can't get hold of buttermilk?
If you can't hold of buttermilk, you can use the same amount of milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice added, leave it for a few minutes until it goes lumpy then it's ready to use!
More tips for making the Red Velvet Traybake:
- I use a 12" x 9" traybake tin for all of my traybake recipes, I would recommend getting one if you can. If you're using a smaller tin remember that it will take longer to bake.
- You can freeze the red velvet sponge before adding the cream cheese frosting. Wrap it well to avoid freezer burn and freeze for up to 3 months.
- If you want to use plain flour instead of self raising, you will need to add 2 tsp baking powder to the recipe.
- Make sure to store the traybake in the fridge once it's been frosted.
Recommended Equipment and Ingredients*
- Traybake tin
- Mixing bowls
- Cooling rack
- Angled palette knife
- Electric hand mixer
- Red food colouring
- Heart sprinkles
*I earn a small amount of money if you buy the products after clicking on the links. You will not be charged anything extra for this. Thank you for supporting The Baking Explorer!
More Red Velvet recipes...
Red Velvet Traybake
For the sponge
- 225 g Butter or baking spread softened
- 225 g Caster sugar
- 3 Eggs large
- 125 ml Buttermilk
- 225 g Self raising flour
- 2 tbsp Cocoa powder
- 1 ½ tsp Vanilla extract
- ½ tsp Bicarbonate of soda
- Red food colouring I use Pro Gel
For the frosting
- 135 g Butter softened
- 135 g Icing sugar
- 270 g Full fat cream cheese
- ½ tsp Vanilla extract
- Sprinkles optional
- Pre-heat your oven to 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and grease and line a 12" x 9" traybake tin
- Make the sponge by mixing the butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy, ideally using an electric mixer
- Add the eggs, vanilla extract and buttermilk, and whisk until fully incorporated
- Add the red food colouring and whisk until a strong bright red colour is achieved
- Add the self raising flour, bicaebonate of soda and cocoa powder and whisk in until you can't see any flour anymore
- Pour the batter into the lined traybake tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a thin skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool fully
- To make the cream cheese frosting use an electric hand whisk to mix the butter on it's own briefly until loosened and creamy. Then add the icing sugar and mix it in. Finally add the cream cheese and vanilla extract and mix until smooth
- Smooth the buttercream onto the sponge using a palette knife, then add the sprinkles to decorate (if using)
- Cut into squares to serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within 3 days
Kate - Gluten Free Alchemist
This sponge looks beautiful and perfect (as always) Kat. Red Velvet is an interesting one. I love the idea of it, but the amount of food colouring required to get the depth of flavour always seems a little excessive and puts me off making it very often. I've tried using beetroot powder in the past instead, but it's either not intense enough or I end up with beetroot sponge! Yummy though... xx
Do you need to store this in the fridge because of the cheese frosting
Hi Jackie, yes I would advise storing in the fridge to keep the frosting fresh.
Lou | Crumbs and Corkscrews
Oooo I'm in love with that colour! I use the same colour gels and they are great for getting a fabulous colour without adding huge amounts into the recipe. What a great recipe for Valentines! Thanks for sharing #CookBlogShare
I'm another sceptic! It looks great but I almost never use food colouring. I'm sure this would still taste amazing naturally coloured anyhow and I'll eat cream cheese frosting on just about anything!
Do you cool in the tin or of a cooling rack ?
Hi Debbie, either is ok 🙂
Jo Allison / Jo's Kitchen Larder
No convincing needed here. I love both the colour and the flavour of red velvet and although I'm not a huge fan of using lots of food colouring there is definitely time and place for that. I like your traybake version instead of cake as well. Nice and simple!
Eb Gargano | Easy Peasy Foodie
This looks so pretty! Love red velvet cake - and such a great idea for valentines day! Eb x
You say to add baking powder under step 5 but haven’t said how much?
Sorry this is a typo, there is no baking powder required 🙂
Hi Can I swap the flour to Gluten free? Thanks
Hi, yes you can do this, I hope you enjoy the cake!
Hi, what can you substitute the caster sugar with ?
Hi, you could swap it for granulated sugar. But caster sugar is best, it's very widely available.
Can I know why there is no bicarbonate of soda here but there is in the cupcakes version? Much love from Singapore! Xx
Hi Alisha, I revamped the cupcake recipe a little while ago and updated it to include bicarb. I'm happy with the traybake recipe at the moment, and I don't have any current plans to revamp it. If you want to use the cupcake recipe instead for a traybake, I'd recommend increasing the quantities by 25% for a 12x9 inch tin. I hope that helps!