Pink velvet cake is so much more than white cake colored pink! The crumb is dense; yet moist, soft and tender, with just a hint of cocoa. This version is topped with a silky vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream.
Pink velvet cake came about as a bit of an accident. For little e’s fourth birthday, she requested blue velvet cake. I started experimenting with variations of red velvet cake, but subbing out the red with blue. The funny thing about blue cake though, is that well, it’s blue. Or in my case, it was charcoal green and teal.😂 Mr. Two Sugar Bugs flat out said that blue cake was “weird” and I kind of agree. In all the experimenting though, I came to fall in love with this cake; just not the blue color. The Sugar Bugs and I love pink, so pink velvet cake was born.
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WHAT DOES PINK VELVET CAKE TASTE LIKE?
I like to think of pink velvet cake as red velvet’s posh younger cousin. It has a very mild chocolate flavor with a dense, moist, soft and tender crumb. The recipe can be made into a three layer 6-inch cake or a 9 x 13 sheet cake. I’ve tested it both ways and it comes out fabulous whichever one you choose!
WHAT MAKES IT A VELVET CAKE?
Pink velvet cake is made with baking soda, vinegar and buttermilk. The chemical reaction of these ingredients creates bubbles which results in a fluffy and smooth cake.
HOW DO YOU MAKE PINK VELVET CAKE?
For this recipe, you will use cake flour. I have you measure the cake flour and then sift it together with the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. I always use kosher salt, which isn’t fine enough to fit through my sifter, so I whisk it in after the others have been sifted.
Next, using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the unsalted butter, granulated sugar and pink gel food coloring. I prefer to start with the color now, as to not overwork the batter while trying to add the color later. The ratio of sugar to butter is high, so this mixture doesn’t get light and fluffy and you will mix until well incorporated.
Then you will beat in your eggs one at a time, followed by the dry and wet ingredients. This pink velvet cake calls for buttermilk. If you are like me and rarely have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own by starting with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice and adding enough milk to measure 1 cup. Stir it together and allow it to come to room temperature. It may separate or look curdled, but it’s okay to use.
I add the dry ingredients in three additions and the wet in two additions, starting and ending with the dry. After the first two dry and one wet addition, stop and scrape the sides of your mixing bowl. You will want to assess the color of your batter at this point. If you want the cake to have more of a pink hue, add more pink gel coloring with the second addition of wet ingredients.
Finally, mix until the dry ingredients are just incorporated as to not overwork the batter.
HOW TO PREPARE THE 9 x 13 BAKING PAN
Use a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom and sides of the baking pan. I butter the pan, line with parchment and butter again. You will be able to lift the cake out of the pan after it has cooled if you want to move the cake to a serving platter. If you prefer to serve the cake from the baking pan, there is no reason to line it with parchment paper.
HOW TO DECORATE A 9 x 13 SHEET CAKE
I have been working on my cake decorating skills for the last 12 years or so and am finally feeling like I have a little bit of decorating skill. I find cake decorating to be incredibly humbling and frustrating. Decorating a layer cake takes me hours (seriously, HOURS!), so I wanted to give you a few options for decorating a sheet cake.
If you are feeling adventurous and want to add some piping to your sheet cake, you can create a pretty design by using a Wilton 1M, Wilton 4B and Wilton 2D. I created the swirls with the 1M. Wilton has a great cupcake piping set that has all three of these tips and some piping bags included with it. While this design looks impressive (at least to me!), it is quite quick to create. The piping took me about 15 minutes for the whole cake.
For more detailed instructions on making the Swiss meringue buttercream, please check out my post for Lemon Cupcakes with Berry Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
OTHER CAKE RECIPES TO TRY:
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- 2 3/4 cups cake flour, measured, then sifted
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 4-8 drops pink gel food coloring
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 6 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 pound unsalted butter (3 sticks), room temperature*
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 350° F.
- Prepare a 9 x 13 baking pan (or three 6-inch round baking pans); butter the pans, line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper and butter again. If you plan to serve the cake out of the 9 x 13 pan; you can omit the parchment paper. If you wish to move the 9 x 13 cake to a serving platter, use a large enough piece of parchment paper so that you can lift the cake out of the pan once cool. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and pink food coloring on medium-high until well combined, approximately 2-3 minutes. The mixture is thick as there is a high ratio of sugar to butter. Scrape up and down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time.
- In a measuring cup mix together the buttermilk, white vinegar and vanilla.
- With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture in alternating additions, beginning and ending with the dry. I break mine into 1/3 dry, 1/2 wet, 1/3 dry, 1/2 wet and final 1/3 dry. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl before the second addition of wet ingredients. Assess to see if you want to add more pink coloring. If you do, add it with the second addition of wet ingredients. Be careful not to over mix your batter.
- If making a 9 x 13 cake, evenly spread the batter in your prepared pan and bake for 25-35 minutes or until the cake is baked through. To test, insert a toothpick or cake tester in the center of the cake; if it comes out mostly clean, it is done. Cool cake in the pan placed on a wire rack until completely cooled. I like to chill the cake for 30 minutes in either the freezer or refrigerator prior to lifting the parchment out of the pan. Chilling the cake gives it more stability so it doesn't fold when pulling it out of the pan.
- For a layer cake, divide your batter equally between the three prepared pans and bake 25-35 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test, insert a toothpick or cake tester in the center of the cake; if it comes out mostly clean, it is done. Cool cake in pans placed on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before turning them onto the wire rack to cool completely. Be sure to leave them topside up.
FOR THE VANILLA SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
1. Wipe the bowl and whisk of your stand mixer with vinegar or lemon juice to make sure it is grease free or your egg whites may not stiffen.
2. Whisk egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Whisk and heat mixture over a saucepan of simmering water until hot to touch, sugar is fully dissolved (you should not feel any granules when rubbed between your fingers) and it’s a bit frothy, approximately 3 minutes.
3. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and wipe the bottom dry. Place on your stand mixer and whisk on medium-high (8 on a Kitchen Aid stand mixer) until the mixture is cool and the meringue holds a stiff peak (the bottom of your bowl should also be cooled), approximately 10-15 minutes.
4. Switch to the paddle attachment, reduce the speed to medium (4-6 on a Kitchen Aid stand mixer), and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, letting the butter fully incorporate before adding more. ** Once all butter is incorporated, scrape down sides of the bowl and add vanilla extract and whip on high (8-10 on a Kitchen Aid) until a thick, whipped consistency is reached, about 5 minutes.
* Your butter only needs about 1 hour of time (depending on temperature of your kitchen) to get to room temperature. You want the butter still slightly cool to the touch and not overly warm or soft.
** At some point your buttercream is going to be a sloppy mess. It may even look curdled. Do not fear, just keep whipping and it will magically come together into a beautiful whipped frosting. If you feel it is too soupy, place the mixture in the refrigerator for 20 minutes and then re-whip.
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KitchenAid KSM150PSER Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer with Pouring Shield, 5-Quart, Empire Red
USA Pan Bakeware Rectangular Cake Pan, 9 x 13 inch, Nonstick & Quick Release Coating, Made in the USA from Aluminized Steel
Wilton 2104-1364 Cupcake Decorating Icing Tips, 12-Piece Set, Silver
Wilton Color Right Performance Food Coloring Set, Achieve Consistent Colors for Icing, Fondant and Cake Batter, 8-Base Colors
Serving Size:1 2x2 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 305 Total Fat: 16g Saturated Fat: 10g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 5g Cholesterol: 57mg Sodium: 288mg Carbohydrates: 38g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 26g Protein: 3g
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