This rich red velvet and cinnamon layer cake is filled with a whipped cinnamon buttercream and frosting with an easy light whipped cream – perfect for Valentine’s Day!

I should really start this post with the disclaimer that there is not a single beet in this cake.

That may seem like superfluous information to some of you, like I’m just throwing out random tidbits of useless particulars.  (So in that vein, for the record, it also contains not a leaf of swiss chard nor a floret of broccoli, regardless of how much that saddens my soul.)

But I had two people come up to me in lab inquiring about the root veggie-infusion status of it, so this is, like…a real thing.


After further investigation, I came into the knowledge that before the days when Paula Deen roamed the earth and felt like it was totally in her purview to tell the world that, not only is it okay to ingest four sticks of butter a day, but also that red velvet cake must be the most garish shade of crimson imaginable and so we all must lace our batters with at least a quarter cup of Red No. 40 (or else), probably before Red No. 40 even existed, tradition dictated that one use beets.

Sure, the color is more subtle.  But you might even get some vitamin A out of the deal.  (And be able to call it a breakfast food. Win/win.)


Anyways, I suppose that since my cake is more of a brick red than a firehouse red, it looks more like the beet version than any other.  And while I have been known on occasion to put vegetables in my dessert (you can ask my brother about that, as he is still traumatized by a chocolate zucchini cake I made four years ago), I promise that is not the case here.  I just used a tiny dollop of food gel as opposed to an entire bottle of food coloring.  And since this particular batter has more cocoa powder than most that I’ve seen, the red is largely subdued.

Which, I pinky swear, does not make it any less delicious.  It just means that you won’t turn your entire digestive system hot pink after eating it.  And that has to be a good thing.


Red velvet cake is not about the color, anyway, it’s about the flavor.  The hint of chocolate, the tang of buttermilk, the sweet tartness of cream cheese frosting…

…oh but wait, there’s none of that in here either.  What the WHAT?!?!?

I know, my bad.  But here’s the thing.  Somehow when I combined low fat cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar in my mixing bowl, fully expecting it to turn into something thick and fluffy that I could for sure ice a cake with…I instead got soup.  Cream cheese frosting soup. Soup that I then tried to thicken with cornstarch (since I had no more powdered sugar and had no desire of going to the supermarket. Again.).  But to no avail.  Still soup.

Non-ideal. But, because I’m not a quitter, I attempted to use it anyway because, you know, maybe that’s just how it’s supposed to be? Uh, not.  All you’ll get by doing that is a drippy weird looking mess.  So then I scraped off as much as I could and made whipped cream (you know, if life gives you lemons…).


And, surprisingly, it worked.  Between the cake itself and the cinnamon buttercream filling, the whole thing is quite rich, so the light barely-sweet whipped cream topping (with just a hint of cream cheese tang from the thin coating that was inevitably left on) was just perfect.

A tad bit nontraditional, perhaps.  But perfect nonetheless.


One year ago…Risotto with Carrots and Feta
Two years ago…Macaroni and Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Peppers
Three years ago…Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Four years ago…Spinach Artichoke Ravioli Lasagna

Red Velvet and Cinnamon Layer Cake
This rich red velvet cake is filled with a whipped cinnamon buttercream and frosting with an easy light whipped cream - perfect for Valentine's Day!
Yield: 1 9-inch quadruple layer cake
For the red velvet cake
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup natural cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 oz liquid red food coloring OR 4 tbsp water and a dollop of red food gel (I used the latter)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
For the whipped cinnamon filling
  • 3 sticks + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
For the whipped cream frosting
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup sugar
For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Generously grease two 9-inch cake pans with butter or cooking spray. Line each greased pan with a greased piece of parchment paper.
  2. In a medium size bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, vanilla extract, water, and food gel. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on low speed until soft. Add the sugar in a steady stream at the side of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
  5. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time and beat 20 seconds after each addition.
  6. After the eggs are added, increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.
  7. With the mixer on low add the flour in three equal portions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. After completing the last addition of flour, stop the mixer and scrape the sides. Let the mixer run for 30 seconds on low.
  8. Divide the batter equally among the greased pans and lightly smooth the tops.
  9. Bake the cake layers for 20-30 minutes or until the top feels firm and gives slightly when touched. Let sit for 10 minutes on a wire rack before unmolding. Let cool completely before frosting/filling.
For the whipped cinnamon filling
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low for 1 minute, then on medium for 6 minutes. Use right away.
For the whipped cream frosting
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream until it form soft peaks. Add in the sugar and whisk until it has a thick consistency but before it turns into butter.
To assemble the cake
  1. Using the dental floss method (I do this, minus the toothpicks) or using a long serrated knife, cut each cake into two layers so that you know have four layers.
  2. Spread a small dollop of the cinnamon frosting onto the cake plate or cake board on which you are going to construct your cake.
  3. Place one cake layer on this, cut side up. Place about 1 cup of the cinnamon frosting on it and spread evenly leaving a 1" unfrosted rim around the edges.
  4. Repeat with remaining layers until the final layer, which you will put cut side down.
  5. Pile a generous amount of the whipped cream frosting on top of the cake and use an offset spatula to spread it outward from the top center, down the sides. Using a 1M tip, swirl rosettes around the edges of the cake.
Adapted from Sweetapolita
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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85 Responses to Red Velvet and Cinnamon Layer Cake

  1. Beth says:

    Sometimes the best recipes are the ones that are made from desperation! This looks awesome, and I’m so glad it worked for you.

  2. Your cake looks beautiful! Love, love, love the idea of a cinnamon filling – that is a seriously inspired idea. Also the whipped cream topping really appeals to me as cream cheese frosting on red velvet cake is always the thing that makes me feel it’s just that little bit too rich. This one sounds awesome.

  3. What a beautiful cake…and the cinnamon filling looks absolutely delish!

  4. Stephanie says:

    Why do you think the cream cheese frosting didn’t work? I made a red velvet cake for dessert for Christmas and I had the same problem. I used full fat cream cheese because I wanted to avoid the problem but that didn’t seem to help. Your solution and cake look beautiful by the way. My cake was just a drooping mess.

  5. Gorgeous! I’d love if you could ship one of these to Boston. 😉 The cinnamon filling sounds divine!

  6. You know, I’ve actually never had red velvet cake. The idea of ingesting so much ‘artificial’ dye is an admitted turn-off, and it is nice to see a recipe that is traditional without going into food dye overkill. What, dare I ask, was so traumatic about the chocolate zucchini cake, given that you can rarely taste the zucchini in such concoctions?

  7. Danielle says:

    This is gorgeous and I love the cinnamon in the frosting.

  8. I loooove your version! Frankly, I have had very red red velvet cakes where all you can taste is food coloring and it is so gross. I’d much rather have your deliciousness and oh that whipped cream!!

  9. bellini says:

    Good save Joanne with the whipped cream frosting. I have never made a red velvet cake but I had also read that red could be achieved with beets. Somehow it seems healthier that red food dye.

  10. I love and admire you for so many reasons! a.) even if there were beets in this cake, i would 100% eat it. b.) that frosting story — i love how you can have a mishap and still turn it into something as gorgeous as this c.) teach me how to frost a cake to make it look so beautiful and d.) 4 layer cakes are always better than 2.

  11. I’m not the biggest red velvet fan , but this cake looks awesome. I love how the red makes the white pop even more. So pretty and I’m sure amazingly delicious. Who need Roses, cards and chocolates? I’ll gladly take em,and Who needs Valentines Day to make these?! I say make them year round!

  12. Wow! This cake is beautiful! You do such lovely work. Honestly you should do this for a living!

  13. Beautiful cake! I love a rich and deep the red looks! Even though your version has no beets, I’m gonna have to check out that beet version now out of curiosity!

  14. No swiss chard or broccoli but does it contain tofu?
    The red color from beets fades away during baking, but the vitamins remain (I think)

  15. marie says:

    This may make me weird but I am not a fan of buttercream, but I adore fresh whipped cream, so good. That looks like one heavy cake 🙂

  16. I want this for breakfast! (and lunch and dinner and snacktime and dessert… :)) I love the white-red contrast of this cake, especially that deep red color. So pretty!

  17. Any cake with whipped cream frosting is a good thing! Happy Fridy!

  18. Ashley Bee says:

    I love when accidents become better than the original intent 🙂 This cake looks deeelish!

  19. sandra says:

    I love it – experiments and all.

  20. Alisa says:

    I could care less about the color (okay, I’d prefer it weren’t green cake), as long as it tastes good! But really, you got me with the cinnamon buttercream -yum!

  21. Saguna says:

    Veggie cakes are awesome, but there’s definitely a time and a place (right here in this fluffy-looking cake which is making me crave cake for dinner) for butter and sugar. The few red velvet cakes I’ve made in the past have been rather brown-ish, but I really don’t mind it… the more cocoa the better, I always say!

  22. The cake is stunning. Nice recovery on the frosting situation. Frosting on a cake like this is so critical and yours is finger lickin’ good 🙂

  23. Esi says:

    I like the sound of the cinnamon buttercream filling so I guess I can forgive your cream cheese soup situation 🙂

  24. That is a BEAUTIFUL cake! wonderful to look at and I’m sure it’s wonderful to eat! Really really beautiful 🙂
    Mary x

  25. Karen says:

    Not a big fan of red velvet cake, but I think with the whipped cream frosting, I might take a slice 🙂

  26. Darjeeling says:

    That sounds and looks delicious. I like that you used whipped cream instead of cream cheese frosting.

  27. Jessie says:

    Wait … you mean there’s no squash in this cake? 😉

    You know, I had no idea red velvet cake was colored with beets once upon a time, but that totally makes sense. Love the subdued color in your cake! I’m sorry to hear your first batch of frosting was a no-go, but the second version looks delicious!

    Have a great weekend, Joanne!

  28. Peggy G. says:

    I actually love a darker color red on a Red Velvet cake – makes it look less “fake” – bright red is well… too bright, in my opinion. So this looks downright perfect – whipped cream and all =)

  29. SallyBR says:

    Thing of beauty! Never in a million years I could pull this recipe, but wish I could try a little piece… I’ve never had a red velvet type cake, beet or not


  30. I definitely almost made a beet chocolate cake last weekend…but your version without that root vegetable earthiness is probably better, haha. Looks great!

  31. This is such a beautiful red velvet cake, Joanne! Great job!

  32. Debbie says:

    I probably would have given up on the frosting and just had a fit! So glad that it worked out well for you. I have always had a hard time with red velvet cake because of all the food color in it but I could definitely get over that with the way you made it….Looks very pretty!

  33. Lori says:

    Gorgeous! I’ve only made red velvet a couple times, but I always skimped on the red color. I’d prefer to use none at all and really need to try the beet version.

  34. What a beautiful cake, you did an awesome job! I want a piece like now!!! 😉

  35. teresa says:

    very nice! and that’s got to be one of the cutest red velvet cakes i’ve ever seen, i love the gold sprinkles. this looks amazing!

  36. Hotly Spiced says:

    I admire your perseverance because the end result has been so worth it. I so want a slice (maybe two) of this cake xx

  37. Eileen says:


    I have always been a little scared of red velvet cake, due to the recipes calling for a full bottle of food coloring. A little bit of gel sounds like a much better solution! And I wouldn’t mind the beets either. 🙂

  38. Natalie G says:

    Now this is what I call a CAKE! So lovely and layered and wow the frosting sounds amazing, I wish I had some right now!

  39. Oddly enough, I get asked the vegetable status of almost everything I make as well. My kids are super suspicious since I have ‘tricked’ them on many occasions! This cake sounds divine, and I love the whipped cream frosting, since I am in the minority and not a huge fan of cream cheese. Blasphemy, I know!

  40. OohLookBel says:

    This cake is absolutely lovely (even without beets!)

  41. Amy says:

    Sounds like this cake wasn’t meant to be. And yet, there it is…still looking and sounding delicious.

  42. Subra038 says:

    this looks delicious! I have to ask where did you get the edible gold stars?

  43. That Girl says:

    I’ve made red velvet cupcakes with a nice light royal frosting before, so I get how well this probably worked.

  44. Blond Duck says:

    I like the color! It’s almost eggplant.

  45. P says:

    Beets in a cake doesn’t sound the bad at all! I honestly like the darker red hue of this cake than the Red 40 food factory styled cakes.

  46. Beautiful cake! I always have problems with cream cheese frosting too and go through desperate attempts to save it to no avail- feel your pain

  47. Kari says:

    Joanne, whatever is or isn’t in this cake, it is gorgeous! And I love the layers – beautiful.

  48. Candace says:

    More cocoa is never a bad thing. This cake is gorgeous. I am thinking it would make a fantastic breakfast. If only…

    Have a beautiful weekend!

  49. Johanna GGG says:

    how funny that the whipped cream is the light part of the cake! Sounds delicious and I love that is is not bright red because I agree that I don’t want bright red insides – well not from food dye anyway! Looks like a glorious cake

  50. Tandy says:

    I cannot abide food colouring you get in bottles that look like essence. Real gel or powder colouring seems healthier and works much better. And this stunning cake is proof of that!

  51. Mmmm…I love red velvet. And I don’t care how red it is, as long as it tastes like red velvet. Love your twists and turns, they sound delicious – and the pretty gold flecks!

  52. Katie says:

    YUM! Yum! yum! This looks fantastic! I love the frosting.

  53. Katie says:

    This red velvet layer cake looks like heaven! Gorgeous frosting job.

  54. Beautiful cake! Lack of beets, squash and greens acceptable here 🙂

  55. That frosting sound divine Joanne!

  56. What a pretty layered cake! The frosting is perfect.

  57. Raina says:

    Beautiful cake! It looks wonderful. I have always been bothered by putting that much food coloring in red velvet cake too. It is funny because I was just thinking that next time I made it I would leave it out or just use a little. I like the idea of the cinnamon filling.

  58. Lea Ann says:

    Beautiful cake Joanne! Perfect for Valentines Day.

  59. I think the color turned out beautifully. You could totally be a cake decorator. I’m serious!!! Where were you when I got married? This cake is beautiful!

  60. I can just imagine I would have thrown the whole cake out the window if my frosting turned out like soup – good for you for finding a solution that made the cake turn out even better! Love the little gold stars too!

  61. What a neat combo of flavours! That icing alone looks deathly delicious. I’m totally down for a sugar overdose – especially with cake. I’m definitely going to try this recipe when an occasion pops up. Looks awesome!

  62. I love my cake with whipped cream anyways. 🙂 It’s not as sweet yet still tastes decadent. 🙂

  63. Laura says:

    I will take a whipped cream frosting any day of the week. And, ironically, I think of it as being a lot harder than cream cheese frosting (because you have to stabilize it). Anyway, good for you for not giving up and can I please have a slice?

  64. Betty says:

    Your red velvet is the perfect hue! (Beets would not have upset me though- I’m a beet lover from way back.) And whipped cream is always appropriate. I’m loving those little gold stars. 🙂

  65. Mary says:

    Oh, what a lovely cake, Joanne. It looks and sounds delicious. Do you have special plans for Valentine’s Day this year? I hope your week is off to a good start. Have a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  66. Lynn says:

    I always want the icing more than the cake, but on this cake, both look so good.

  67. Barbara says:

    Gorgeous cake, Joanne, and what a super idea to use cinnamon in the frosting!

  68. grace says:

    i love you for adding cinnamon to your filling and i love you for using the word superfluous. 🙂

  69. Gloria says:

    This cake is absolutely amazing and delicious and you are amazing too in all you make Joanne!

  70. oooh this cake is awesome, joanne! great job 🙂

  71. What an intriguing flavor combo! I have a newfound appreciation for homemade layer cakes after I attempted one a couple months ago. Yours is beautiful!

  72. Reeni Pisano says:

    What a gorgeous cake Joanne! You have no idea how badly I want it mainly for that cinnamon filling! That just elevates red velvet cake to new and delicious heights!

  73. kickpleat says:

    Totally gorgeous cake and haha, no beets 🙂 I love the addition of cinnamon and I LOVE LOVE LOVE those tiny little gold stars – way too cute.

  74. The cake looks beautiful despite the small adventure. And decadent. I love the addition of cinnamon, nice touch.

  75. Oh god – I need this cake. Like now. Like yesterday!

    I’m going to make it and then hide it in the fridge so I don’t have to share with anyone.

  76. Roz P. says:

    My family adores Red Velvet Cake SO MUCH that my daughter chose it for her wedding cake! Oh if I could just get my hands on that perfect recipe . . . hopefully it will be yours Joanne! I love the cinnamon in your icing too! Plus, I totally agree with you about life before Miss Butter-fiend Dean. Your philosophy is indeed shared in my foodie-heart! I am pinning and bookmarking this recipe! AND sharing it with my daughter!

  77. this looks pretty amazing, and i love how you saved the frosting. i’m really thinking that the whipped cream frosting is underused!

  78. Okay well, for a mistake I must say this came out looking quite amazing!

  79. […] One year ago…Red Velvet and Cinnamon Layer Cake […]

  80. Gg says:

    I was looking for a red velvet cake specifically with cinnamon. I just had one at a party today and wow what a lovely combination. I can’t wait to bake it myself and savour it.

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