Naked Red Velvet Cake with Crème Fraîche Frosting

12 servings
45 min prep time
1 hr 50 min total time

This red velvet cake from Hummingbird High is gloriously moist, with an open, airy crumb and strong hints of buttermilk, chocolate, and orange.  Lightly frosted with vanilla crème fraîche, it's creamy, tangy, and delicious, rounding out the cake's sweetness perfectly.


Red Velvet Cake

2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar

1 medium orange, for zest

3 cups (12 ounces ) cake flour

1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (4 ounces) Vermont Creamery Unsalted Cultured Butter - 82% Butterfat at room temperature

1/2 cup (4 ounces) vegetable oil

2 tablespoons red food coloring

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature

2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon baking soda

Crème Fraîche Frosting

4 cups (32 ounces) Vermont Creamery Crème Fraîche

3/4 cup (3 ounces) confectioner's sugar

1/8 teaspoon orange extract

1 medium orange , for zest


  • STEP 1

    Center a rack in the oven and heat to 350°F. Prepare three (8­-inch) round cake pans by spraying generously with cooking spray, and lining the bottom of each tin with a parchment paper circle. Spray the parchment circle as well.

  • STEP 2

    In a small bowl, combine 2 cups granulated sugar and the fresh zest from 1 medium orange. Use your fingers to rub the orange zest into the sugar until it is fully distributed throughout the sugar and the mixture becomes fragrant — this will help release oils from the orange peel that will make your cake more flavorful. Set aside.

  • STEP 3

    In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 cups cake flour, 1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt until well combined. Set aside.

  • STEP 4

    In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1/2 cup unsalted butter and orange zested sugar.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. While the butter and sugar are creaming, combine 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons red food coloring, and 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup, using a fork or small whisk to briefly whisk together the ingredients. Lower the mixer speed to its slowest setting and stream into the oil mixture into the butter and sugar, making sure to stream the mixture down the sides of the bowl to avoid making a mess. Once the oil has been added, turn the mixer speed up to medium and continue beating for another 5 minutes, until the mixture is very light and fluffy and a vibrant pinkish color.

  • STEP 5

    Once the mixture is light and fluffy, reduce the mixer speed back down to its lowest setting. Add 3 large eggs, one at a time, only adding the next egg when the previous one has fully incorporated. Be sure to use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

  • STEP 6

    Once the eggs have been added, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with 1 1/2 cups buttermilk in two parts, starting and ending with both the flour mixture. Continue mixing until the last of the flour is just incorporated — at this point, it's okay to have one or two flour streaks left in the batter.

  • STEP 7

    In a small ramekin, combine 2 teaspoons baking soda with 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar. The mixture will begin to bubble and fizz immediately. Quickly add it to the cake batter and mix for an additional minute or so.

  • STEP 8

    Divide batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in center of each cake comes out clean and tops of each cake bounce back when gently poked. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, before turning out of the pans to cool completely.

  • STEP 9

    Meanwhile, in the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine 4 cups Vermont Creamery vanilla crème fraîche, 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon orange extract, and fresh zest from 1 medium orange. Whip on medium speed until thick and creamy, about 3 minutes. Frost layers and sides of cake.