Heart-Shaped Cake

updated Nov 28, 2022
Heart Shaped Cake Recipe

A charming cake you can easily make using just two standard cake pans. What's not to love?

Serves10 to 12

Prep40 minutes to 45 minutes

Cook20 minutes to 25 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Credit: Stephanie Loo

Valentine’s Day is an easy excuse to show kids, teachers, friends, and coworkers just how much they mean to you. A box of chocolates is a nice gesture (save the chocolate-covered caramels for me!), but nothing beats a festive homemade treat. In years past, I’ve made pink Oreo truffles, Valentine’s Puppy Chow with Valentine’s M&Ms and cinnamon candies, and classic chocolate-covered strawberries. But this year I’m transforming red velvet cake into a heart-shaped masterpiece. It’s a surprisingly simple hack that bakers of any age or skill level can do. Here’s how to make a heart-shaped cake for Valentine’s Day.

How Do You Make a Heart-Shaped Cake Without a Special Pan?

There is no need to invest in a gimmicky heart-shaped pan that takes up valuable cabinet space. It is easy to make a heart-shaped cake for those you love with just two standard cake pans: one square pan and one round pan.

If You’re Making a Heart-Shaped Cake, a Few Tips

  • Use your favorite cake batter. As long as your recipe or boxed cake mix can fill 2 (8-inch) baking pans, you can use it to make a single-layer heart-shaped cake.
  • Use pans with the same diameter. The cut-side of the round cakes needs to match the length of the square sides upon assembly. You’ll get the best results using an 8-inch round cake pan and 8-inch square cake pan. Do not mix and match 8- and 9-inch pans.
  • 8-inch cake pans are best. Eight-inch round and square cake pans provide the best cake, while still fitting on a serving platter. Nine-inch cake pans may also be used, although the cakes will be thinner and the resulting cake may extend beyond standard serving platters.
  • Trim cakes with a serrated knife. Use a serrated knife to trim mounded tops of the cake layers until they are flat.
  • Fill in gaps with frosting. Frosting covers gaps and irregularities between the pieces of cake. A simple cream cheese frosting pairs nicely with red velvet cake, or make it easy with store-bought icing.

Heart Shaped Cake Recipe

A charming cake you can easily make using just two standard cake pans. What's not to love?

Prep time 40 minutes to 45 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Serves 10 to 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the red velvet cake:

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 3/4 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 3 tablespoons

    natural unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1 1/2 cups

    granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup

    canola or other neutral oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1 (1-ounce) bottle

    red food coloring (2 tablespoons)

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1 cup

    buttermilk, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon

    apple cider vinegar

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 8 ounces

    (2 sticks) unsalted butter

  • 8 ounces

    cream cheese

  • 1 pound

    powdered sugar (about 4 1/2 cups), divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Sprinkles (optional)

Instructions

Make the red velvet cake:

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Coat 1 (8-inch) round cake pan and 1 (8-inch) square cake pan with cooking spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

  2. Place 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder, and 3/4 teaspoon baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. (The other baking soda will be added at the end of mixing, so leave this out for now.)

  3. Place 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 3/4 cup canola oil, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until lightened in color, about 4 minutes.

  4. With the mixer on low speed, add 2 large eggs one at a time and beat until fully incorporated. Add 1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring (2 tablespoons) and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and beat until combined.

  5. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula. Use a large spoon to add about 1/3 of the flour mixture to the mixer. Mix on low speed until all the flour is incorporated. Slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the buttermilk and mix until combined.

  6. Scrape down the bowl again. Repeat beating in another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk, and end with the remaining 1/3 of the flour.

  7. Place 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar in a small bowl or measuring cup and stir to combine; it will fizz up considerably. Immediately add to the cake batter and beat on low speed for 3 minutes to ensure the soda is evenly distributed throughout the cake. Divide the batter evenly between the pans (about 520 grams each).

  8. Bake until the cakes pull away from the sides of the pans and the tops spring back when touched gently, 23 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and dry the stand mixer bowl and paddle attachment.

  9. Place the pans on a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert the pans and remove the cakes from the pans. Remove and discard parchment. Let cool completely before frosting, about 1 hour.

  10. Meanwhile, place 2 sticks unsalted butter for the frosting in the stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Place 8 ounces cream cheese on the counter. Let both sit at room temperature to soften.

Make the cream cheese frosting:

  1. Beat the butter with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and smooth, about 1 minute. Add the cream cheese and beat on medium speed until combined and lightened in texture, about 3 minutes.

  2. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula. Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar, return to medium speed, and beat until incorporated. Repeat scraping and beating in the remaining 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar 3 to 4 more times.

  3. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Beat on medium speed until smooth and slightly increased in volume, 3 to 5 minutes.

Assemble the cake:

  1. Use a serrated knife to trim off the rounded tops of the cake layers. Cut the round cake in half so that you have two semi-circles (half-circles).

  2. Place the square cake on a serving plate at an angle so that one corner is pointing towards you. Use an offset spatula to coat the two adjacent sides of the square cake furthest from you with frosting. Place the cut sides of one cake round against one of the frosted sides of the square cake. Repeat with the remaining semi-circle to complete the heart shape.

  3. Frost the cake with the remaining frosting, filling in any gaps between the pieces of cake with frosting. Decorate with sprinkles if desired.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The cooled, unfrosted cake layers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw frozen cakes at room temperature for 1 hour before frosting.

Storage: The assembled cake can be loosely wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Let come to room temperature before serving.

Alternate pan sizes: 9-inch round and square cake pans may be used, but reduce the baking time to 20 to 22 minutes.

Boxed cake mix: A 15.25-ounce boxed cake mix (any flavor) can be used here for the cake layers. Bake according to package directions in 8-inch pans and use assembly as directed.