Recipe Review

I Made Cake Man Raven’s “Out of this World” Red Velvet Cake (It Has Almost 800 Reviews)

published Feb 3, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Cake Man Raven, aka Raven Patrick De’Sean Dennis III, is famous for his red velvet cakes. Born in Harlem, he grew up in South Carolina before returning to New York to open a bakery first in Brooklyn, and more recently in Harlem. The recipe I used is from Cake Man Raven’s appearance on the Food Network with Sara Moulton.

Considering Cake Man Raven has baked cakes for celebrities such as Oprah and Jay Z, I had high hopes for his three-layer cake recipe. Plus, the reviews on Food Network’s website refer to his cake as “perfect,” “super moist,” and “out of this world.” Here’s what happened when I gave it a go.

How to Make Cake Man Raven’s Southern Red Velvet Cake

I began by combining the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Although I sifted them together as directed using a sieve, I still needed to whisk them in the bowl to fully mix in the cocoa.

I then mixed the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in my stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. The recipe asks for the buttermilk to be at room temperature, but as it was very cold in my house that day, I heated it in the microwave for 15 seconds so it wasn’t fridge-cold. I added the dry ingredients into the wet and mixed until just combined. Then, I divided the batter between three pans that I had greased with baking spray with flour in it.

I baked the cakes on a single rack in the middle of my oven. The recipe asks you to run a knife around the cakes before removing them from the pan, but the cakes had already pulled away from the sides, so that step wasn’t necessary. I liked the tip to remove the cakes onto a plate and then turn them onto the cooling rack so that the drier, bottom of the cakes were on the rack (and not the top that could get stuck).

To make the frosting, I used the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but I needed to cover the mixer with plastic wrap so the confectioners’ sugar didn’t hit me in the face. Most recipes ask you to add the sugar gradually, but this recipe instructs you to place all of the sugar into the bowl at one time. The frosting texture was fluffy, even after it was refrigerated until the cakes were cool. 

I appreciated that the recipe has details about how to assemble and ice the cake, although it was a bit tricky as the cakes generated a lot of crumbs. I had to take my time to ice over them and designated a side of my bowl for the red dotted frosting clumps. I had about 1/3 cup of frosting left over after I was done, so I used some more for additional spackling.

After I iced the cake, I sliced it to taste it, but the slice came out messy, with the red crumbs dragged into the frosting layer. If stored in the fridge, the slices come out prettier, but the frosting doesn’t stay quite as soft.

Credit: Paula Shoyer
Cake Man Raven's Red Velvet Cake

My Honest Review of Cake Man Raven’s Southern Red Velvet Cake

Cake Man Raven’s cake is a tall, bright red, 3-layer layer cake with the right amount of frosting to create a balanced contrast between the red and white colors. The cake itself, with only 1 teaspoon of cocoa and 1 teaspoon of vanilla, does not have a distinct flavor, so it just tastes like basic cake. As a result, the frosting, albeit tasty, takes over the overall flavor of the cake. With each bite, you taste frosting, rather than cake and frosting together. 

As for texture, the interior of the cake is moist, and the frosting is very fluffy, even after chilling in the fridge. Notwithstanding, the tops of the layers were a bit hard, so when I took a bite, there is a hardness to the cake that I didn’t like, and distracted me from the otherwise moist and creamy texture of the components. As a result, I would definitely bake the cake for shorter time. The alternative would be to slice off the very top of the cake layers before assembly, something I typically do when building layer cakes (bonus: You get to eat the scraps).

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If You’re Making Cake Man Raven’s Southern Red Velvet Cake, a Few Tips

  1. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. I began by placing the dry ingredients into my stand mixer bowl, but when asked to add the dry ingredients into the wet ones, I had to remove the dry ingredients to another bowl and replace it with the wet ones. To prevent this, I recommend mixing the wet ingredients in your stand mixer bowl and the dry ones in a separate, medium bowl.
  2. Test the cakes at 27 minutes. The 30-minute baking time seemed right, but when I tasted the cake, the tops of the layers were a little hard. I recommend testing the cake at 27 minutes for doneness.

Overall rating:  7/10

Have you tried Cake Man Raven’s southern red velvet cake? Let us know in the comments!