Recipe Review

I Tried King Arthur’s One-Bowl Red Velvet Cake

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

When I came across King Arthur Baking Company’s picture-perfect red velvet cake, I knew I had to include it in our recipe showdown. The batter looked easy to prepare (everything is dumped in stages into one mixing bowl), and it’s unique in that it’s made with butter rather than oil. It also calls for Dutch-processed cocoa rather than regular cocoa, which I would suggest buying online if you can’t find it at your grocery store. Would the impressive four-layer cake take home the top prize? I tried it to find out.

Get the recipe: King Arthur Baking Company’s Red Velvet Cake

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

How to Make King Arthur Baking Company’s Red Velvet Cake

I began by mixing butter and sugar on medium-high speed until combined, then added the eggs, food color, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and vinegar. I added the flour alternatively with the buttermilk in four parts, starting on low speed each time and then turning the speed up to medium to fully mix the ingredients together. The result is a thick batter. I then baked the cakes for 25 minutes. 

The buttercream frosting was also easy to prepare: I beat butter and shortening until fluffy, stirred in salt and vanilla, then beat in the confectioners’ sugar and milk. The recipe did not direct me to sift the confectioners’ sugar, but I did anyway, as I typically do when preparing a quick buttercream. 

To assemble the cake, you slice each of the two layers in half to create four layers. The recipe directs you to leave the sides exposed, although the photo in the recipe has the sides fully covered. I built the layer cake adding each layer top-side down. The easiest way to spread this frosting on each layer was to dump a generous clump in the center of the layer and use a metal offset spatula to spread back and forth towards the edges, stopping about 1/4-inch from the edge.

Credit: Paula Shoyer
King Arthur Baking Company Red Velvet Cake

My Honest Review of King Arthur Baking Company’s Red Velvet Cake

The cake has a dark burgundy color, which contrasts nicely with white frosting. But as the layers were thin, having them exposed made the cake unattractive and messy-looking. I’m usually a fan of exposed layers, but believe that they work best when you have thick, 1 1/2- to 2-inch cake layers.

As for the texture, the cake didn’t have much of a crumb and was dense and a bit dry. The cake, when tasted alone, has a light chocolate taste to it, but I would have preferred more flavor in the cake, as the much-too-sweet frosting masked the cake flavor completely. As the cake is in four layers, you eat a generous amount of frosting in each bite, and there was little cake flavor to balance it out. My conclusion is that this cake tasted like a classic store-bought birthday cake, with the experience being all about the frosting. Red velvet cake really does need a cream cheese frosting to complement the delicate chocolate flavor. 

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

If You’re Making King Arthur Baking Company’s Red Velvet Cake, a Few Tips

  1. Add more milk to the frosting as needed. The recipe doesn’t indicate what texture of frosting to create — just to adjust the consistency by adding more milk — and I ended up adding two tablespoons. In my experience, you’re looking for a frosting that is fluffy and spreadable.
  2. Frost the sides of the cake. As you can see in the photos here, this cake looks much better when the sides are frosted.

Overall rating: 6/10

Have you tried King Arthur Baking Company’s red velvet cake? Let us know in the comments!