Thick and moist, this red velvet loaf cake is filled with rich flavors and tastes absolutely delicious. The quick bread is topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting and has a gorgeous red color. The perfect treat to celebrate Valentine’s Day!
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Red velvet loaf cake
Rich and decadent, this red velvet bread hits the sweet spot. It’s one indulgent loaf cake recipe that is super simple to make but looks incredibly elegant.
This red velvet loaf is technically a quick bread recipe, but I think it actually tastes like a cross between a quick bread and red velvet pound cake.
The texture is wonderfully moist and luscious, and the slightly tangy cake contrasts beautifully with the light cream cheese frosting.
It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day and other special occasions, or just whenever you need that red velvet fix.
I bet this will become a new favorite, especially because it only takes minutes to prepare and has a handful of simple ingredients. It doesn’t get much better than that!
If you love red velvet-flavored treats as much as we do, try our red velvet muffins, red velvet banana pudding, and red velvet cookie dough next!
My red velvet loaf comes together super easily with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Please refer to the recipe card below for exact measurements.
- All-purpose flour: Most red velvet cake recipes call for cake flour, but since this is a quick bread, I opted for regular all-purpose flour.
- Cocoa powder: You only need a small amount of cocoa powder, so it doesn’t overpower the other aromas. You want to use natural cocoa powder, not Dutch-processed cocoa powder.
- Baking powder gives that bread a nice rise and velvety crumb.
- Sugar: White granulated sugar sweetens the bread.
- Buttermilk contributes to the moisture, texture, and taste of the cake. Since buttermilk is acidic, it reacts with the cocoa and turns it red! You can also make your own buttermilk by combining 1/2 cup whole milk and 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice. Let sit for 15 minutes until thickened.
- White vinegar: Like the buttermilk, vinegar helps bring out the cocoa powder’s red tones and the loaf’s signature tangy taste.
- Butter: I always bake with salted butter, but you can use unsalted butter + a pinch of salt. Let it soften to room temperature, so it’s easier to cream.
- Eggs bind the batter and give the loaf structure + moisture.
- Red food coloring helps enhance the red tones, a hallmark of red velvet. You need a concentrated gel food color to achieve a vibrant red hue. Chefmaster, Americolor super red, and Wilton no taste red are my favorites. You could also use liquid food coloring from the baking aisle, but you’ll need a lot more compared to a concentrated gel dye.
- Vanilla extract adds depth of flavor.
Cream cheese frosting
- Cream cheese: You need brick-style cream cheese, not spreadable cream cheese from a tub. Set the cream cheese out on the counter to soften for 30 minutes.
- Powdered sugar: Be sure to sift the powdered sugar for a smooth, lump-free texture.
- Butter: A few tablespoons of butter help to create a smooth texture and stabilize the frosting.
- Vanilla extract contributes to the sweetness and flavor.
How to make red velvet loaf
Red velvet loaf cake is one of my family’s favorite quick breads. The flavor is amazing, and the entire thing comes together in 10 minutes!
#1: Combine dry ingredients
Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
#2: Mix wet ingredients
Using a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl + an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and red food coloring on medium-high speed until creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Then mix in the eggs, one at a time. With the mixer on low, mix in the buttermilk and vinegar.
#3: Make batter
Continue mixing on slow speed and gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients until the batter just comes together. Be careful not to overmix.
#4: Bake & cool
Pour the batter into a lined 8.5 in x 4.5 in loaf pan and bake at 350°F for 50 to 65 minutes, or until a skewer/toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove the loaf from the oven and cool in the pan for 30 minutes to an hour. Then use the parchment paper overhang as handles and transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool completely.
#5: Mix cream cheese frosting
Beat together the softened cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue to mix until creamy. Spread the frosting over the cooled loaf cake. Cut the red velvet loaf into slices, and enjoy!
How to know when your red velvet loaf is done baking
You can tell that the bread is ready when the outside of the bread appears firm and browned but not burnt. To test doneness, insert a long skewer (or a toothpick) into the thickest part of the bread around the 50-minute mark.
If you see a few crumbs, that’s great, your red velvet cake loaf is done baking. But wet batter on the skewer means the cake needs to bake a bit longer.
If you notice the top is browned, but the loaf still needs to bake, gently cover the baking pan with a foil tent to ensure the top doesn’t burn.
Tips for success
- Pan size: You can bake the simple loaf cake in an 8.5×4.5-inch or 9×5-inch loaf pan. You can also opt for mini loaf pans to create mini loaves for gifting. Regardless of pan size, be sure to fill your pan only 2/ 3 full and line it with parchment paper.
- Use room temperature ingredients: make sure cold ingredients such as butter, eggs, and buttermilk are at room temperature by taking them out of the fridge 30 to 60 minutes in advance. Room-temperature ingredients combine better, creating a nice crumb.
- Measure your flour correctly: Adding too much flour makes the red velvet loaf dense and dry. Using a kitchen scale is the best way to measure flour. If you don’t have one, fluff the flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and level off the excess with a knife.
- Red food coloring: Start with 1 teaspoon of red food coloring and adjust from there. You can always add more to achieve your desired shade of red.
- Go easy on the stirring: When mixing the dry and wet ingredients, stir until just combined and when you no longer see streaks of flour. Overmixing activates gluten and can lead to tough, uneven bread with large holes in it.
- Don’t rush the baking time: Red velvet bread needs some time to bake. It can take up to 65 minutes for the loaf to be done, but you don’t want to overcook it either. The quick bread is ready when a toothpick/skewer comes out clean.
- Let the loaf cool in the pan: Don’t try to remove the loaf too soon because it can break. Instead, let your bread cool in the pan for 30 minutes to an hour before lifting it out of the pan.
- Chocolate chips: Stir 2 cups white or semi-sweet chocolate chips into the batter. And for good measure, top your cake with a generous handful of chocolate chips before baking.
- Cream cheese swirl: To make cream cheese red velvet bread, whisk 8 oz softened cream cheese + 1 egg + 1/3 cup sugar + 2 tbsp flour + 1 tsp vanilla extract until smooth. Pour half of the red velvet batter into the pan. Then add the cream cheese mixture and top with the remaining batter.
- Different color: Instead of red, add blue food color for a blue velvet loaf, pink for a pink velvet loaf cake, or black to make a black velvet cake loaf.
- Holiday loaf: To turn this recipe into a candy-cane-flavored holiday treat, add 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract to the batter.
Other topping ideas
- Powdered sugar: For a quick finish, dust your red velvet loaf cake with powdered sugar.
- Simple glaze: Mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 to 3 teaspoons of milk until smooth. Then pour the glaze over the cooled cake.
- Chocolate drizzle: Melt 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and drizzle over the loaf.
- Ruby chocolate ganache: For a dramatic presentation, top the easy red velvet dessert with my pink ruby chocolate ganache. It has a fruity flavor that pairs so well with red velvet.
- Sprinkles: Decorate your baked iced or frosted cake with sprinkles. This romantic sprinkle mix would be an excellent choice for Valentine’s Day.
How to store red velvet loaf
Typically, quick breads store well at room temperature for 2 to 3 days to keep the flavor and texture as close to freshly baked as possible.
However, this recipe includes a cream cheese frosting, which needs refrigeration if not served within a day (at the most). Placed in an airtight container, the bread will last in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freeze red velvet bread
This red velvet loaf freezes impeccably well. First, let your loaf cake cool completely. Then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and again in foil. Place in a large freezer bag and freeze for 3 to 4 months. I recommend freezing the loaf without the cream cheese frosting.
Allow it to come to room temperature on the counter before eating. You can also wrap and freeze individual slices for quick snacks.
FAQ: What is red velvet?
The iconic red velvet cake has quite a fascinating history. To many, it seems a bit of a mystery what red velvet actually is and what it tastes like.
What is red velvet cake?
Red velvet cake isn’t just chocolate cake with red food coloring. While it does feature some cocoa powder, it’s not the amount you’d typically find in chocolate cake. In fact, you can hardly discern the cocoa aroma.
Instead, red velvet has a sweet, subtly tangy taste that comes from the addition of buttermilk and vinegar.
Where did red velvet cake originate?
There’s some debate about how and when red velvet cake came to be, but most agree that the cake became popular in the 1930s.
What does red velvet loaf taste like?
Similar to classic red velvet cake, this red velvet bread has a sweet, buttery taste with hints of vanilla and mild cocoa. You can also taste the signature tanginess, which comes from adding buttermilk and vinegar.
What’s the difference between this red velvet bread and red velvet cake?
This red velvet loaf is dense and rich, unlike traditional red velvet cake, which gets its name from the velvety texture. It’s the perfect cure when you desire a hassle-free treat.
Why is it red?
Back when red velvet cake was first created, Dutch cocoa powder was used. When you mix cocoa powder with buttermilk, vinegar, and baking soda, a cool color change happens, and the cake goes from brown to red-brown. While not exactly the vibrant red color of today’s red velvet cakes, but red nonetheless.
These days, most cocoa is treated with an alkalizing agent to neutralize the acidity, which also eliminates the color-changing properties. For that reason, you’ll often find red food coloring in red velvet cake recipes to create that bright red color.
More quick bread to love
Quick breads are among my favorite breakfast and dessert recipes. With so many different flavors and varieties, it’s hard to get tired of eating them. Here are a few more quick bread recipes that you need in your life: