Red Velvet Fireworks Cake

Total Time:
2 hr 45 min
1 hr 20 min
25 min
1 hr

8 to 10 servings

  • For the cake:
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil, plus more for the pans
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red gel food coloring
  • For the frosting:
  • 2 8 -ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup (one 3.8-ounce container) red, white and blue nonpareils
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush two 9-inch-round cake pans with vegetable oil; dust with flour and tap out the excess.

  • Make the cake: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Combine the granulated sugar, vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl; whisk until smooth. Whisk in the food coloring, then add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

  • Spread 3/4 cup batter in each of the prepared pans (you'll have a very thin layer of batter); set the remaining batter aside. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean and the top springs back when pressed, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool about 5 minutes in the pans, then invert the cakes onto the rack to cool completely.

  • Meanwhile, cool the pans under cold water, then wipe clean. Brush with oil and dust with flour again. Repeat to make 2 more cake layers, using 3/4 cup batter for each, then repeat again. You will have 6 layers.

  • Make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese, butter and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then beat in the confectioners' sugar in three additions until smooth.

  • Put 1 cake layer on a serving plate and spread evenly with a scant 1 cup frosting. Repeat with the remaining 5 cake layers, then frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting in a thin layer (just enough so the nonpareils will stick). Refrigerate until the frosting is just set but still soft, about 10 minutes.

  • Put the cake (on the plate) on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover the top and sides completely with the nonpareils, reusing the ones that fall onto the baking sheet.

  • Photograph by Kate Mathis

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    This recipe is featured in:

    4th of July