Black Velvet Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing, beautifully moist and rich, a deliciously layered Halloween dessert. The black colour with achieved by using black cocoa powder, which has a distinctive deep flavour. Super easy to make, and spooky enough to make it your favourite Halloween treat.
It's the very first time I use black cocoa powder in my baking, and I must say, I'm already a fan of it. When I had a bite of this cake, I couldn't quite say what the taste reminded me of, until I realised that it actually tasted like an oreo biscuit. Especially with this combo black velvet sponge and vanilla buttercream.
It's a different kind of depth when it comes to flavour if you are to compare it to regular cocoa powder, perhaps not as chocolaty, but definitely richer. But surprisingly, it's not bitter, just stronger. Which means that it works perfectly well for a Halloween baked goodie.
I have never come across black cocoa powder in a regular supermarket, although I must say I never looked for it specifically, so perhaps health and wellbeing stores are a better place for it, or just online. So if you struggle to find this product, and still want to make a black velvet cake, I would use regular cocoa powder and black food colouring. It will taste more chocolaty, but you should get a close shade of this black.
Ingredients used to make black velvet cake
- plain flour - there is no need for self-raising flour, however, if that's the only one you have around, you can definitely use it too
- black cocoa powder
- bicarbonate of soda
- granulated sugar
- vegetable oil - or another odourless oil
- buttermilk ▢1 tbsp vinegar
- eggs - make sure they are at room temperature
- vanilla extract
- icing sugar -confectioners' sugar
- butter- soften
- milk - full fat is the best, semi-skimmed also ok, but not skimmed milk, as it's not creamy enough
- cream cheese - full-fat is the best
If you want to make a red velvet cake, swap the black cocoa powder for regular cocoa powder and add red food colouring - and voila! a red velvet cake - all the other ingredients stay the same.
The frosting doesn't have to be white, you can use food colouring to create any other colour - orange, purple, red or black would be some fantastic Halloween-related colours, so it's up to you.
Or, if you want to make some delicious black velvet cupcakes, you can follow the recipe for my Red Velvet Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting and replace the regular cocoa powder and red food colouring with black cocoa powder. So delicious!
Step-by-step photos and instructions
Make the sponges first as they need to cool down completely before being covered with buttercream - a warm cake will create so much mess if it's iced too soon. For this recipe I used 2 round cake tins with detachable walls and the diameter of 19cm/7.5 inches.
- in a large bowl, sift the flour and black cocoa powder, add the sugar and baking soda and mix well - the dry mixture will have a grey colour at this stage
- in a separate bowl, combine the vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract and vinegar
- combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and use a spatula to get a smooth mixture - it has a dark black colour now, that pretty much resembles mud
- divide the mixture evenly between 2 cake tins that had been greased and floured
- bake in the preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the sponges comes out clean
- remove from the oven, and leave to cool completely
The cream cheese vanilla buttercream frosting
The good old vanilla flavour! It's a classic, and I happen to absolutely love it - I use it in pretty much any baked goodie, the better the quality, the deeper the flavour.
- sift the icing sugar, and the soft butter, milk and vanilla extract, and either use a hand mixer or a food processor to mix it to a smooth consistency
- add the cream cheese and mix again
- once the sponges have cooled down completely, spread a thicker layer of frosting over the first sponge, top with the second sponge, and spread more cream over the top and sides of the cake
- you can decorate it the way you like it, or just leave it plain
This beautiful cake doesn't need to be refrigerated, it lasts very well at room temperature for at least 4-5 days - it keeps its moisture well and it doesn't dry out at all.
When refrigerated, the icing becomes too hard, and the sponge hardens up and becomes crumbly - and while it's still edible, that's not the best texture.
Make sure the cream cheese isn't too watery, that's why the full-fat one is the best. Too watery cream cheese might result in a split buttercream which is pretty hard to salvage.
You can also decorate the cake to make it as spooky as you wish, if you are going to serve it for Halloween. The white cream cheese frosting can be turned black if you add black cocoa powder to it too.
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Black Velvet Cake
For the sponge
- 250 g plain flour (2 cups)
- 60 g black cocoa powder (2 oz)
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 250 g granulated sugar (1 cup)
- 300 ml vegetable oil (1 ½ cup)
- 250 ml buttermilk (1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the frosting
- 500 g icing sugar (confectioners' sugar)
- 250 g butter, soften
- 4 tablespoon milk
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 250 g cream cheese
- To make the sponges, sift the flour and black cocoa powder in a large bowl, add the bicarb of soda and sugar, and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, combine the oil, buttermilk, eggs, vinegar and vanilla extract.
- Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients using a spatula, until you get a smooth batter.
- Butter and flour 2 cake tins with the diameter of 19 cm/ 7.5 inches - mine have detachable walls and removable bottom which helps a lot.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 tins and bake in the preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, sift the icing sugar and add it to a food processor together with the soft butter, vanilla extract and milk.
- Mix until you get a smooth paste, then add the cream cheese and mix again.
- When the sponges are cool, spread cream over one sponge, top with the second sponge, and spread more cream on the top and sides.
- If you have any frosting left, you can add any food colouring of you choice, and use a piping bag to decorate it nicely.
- To see the measurements in cups and ounces, please click on the US CUSTOMARY link.
- The amount of ingredients listed can be adjusted depending on the number of servings you need, just click on the number next to SERVINGS.
- This beautiful cake doesn't need to be refrigerated, it lasts very well at room temperature for at least 4-5 days - it keeps its moisture well and it doesn't dry out at all.
- When refrigerated, the icing becomes too hard, and the sponge hardens up and becomes crumbly - and while it's still edible, that's not the best texture.
- Make sure the cream cheese isn't too watery, that's why the full-fat one is the best. Too watery cream cheese might result in a split buttercream which is pretty hard to salvage.
- You can also decorate the cake to make it as spooky as you wish, if you are going to serve it for Halloween. The white cream cheese frosting can be turned black if you add black cocoa powder to it too.