This vibrant Red Velvet Loaf is deliciously rich with a tender, velvety smooth texture and the perfect pop of red. With its signature hint of cocoa, iconic tang, and silky cream cheese glaze, this decadent loaf doesn't stray too far from the classic. It is simple to make, comes together in 15 minutes with two bowls a whisk (no mixer required!!), and is made using authentic Southern ingredients for that classic Southern taste!!
Red velvet is the epitome of Southern elegance. From its bold, vibrant color to its delicate velvet crumb, it's definitely in league of its own. Being from the South, I've definitely had my fill of red velvet desserts!! After creating my Red Velvet Oreo Cookies, I knew I had to take it up a notch. Enter this red velvet loaf cake!!
This delicious red velvet loaf combines the rich, moist crumb of the traditional red velvet cake with the slightly dense, buttery texture of a quick bread!! Although smaller in size, this flavorful loaf still maintains the wonderful qualities of its classic counterpart: a rich, velvety smooth texture, subtle chocolate flavor, and a show stopping pop of red.
To ensure that classic Southern taste, this red velvet loaf recipe stays true to the original using buttermilk, vinegar, and earthy cocoa powder. And since no red velvet cake is complete without cream cheese, I couldn't go without topping it with a silky smooth cream cheese glaze that cascades down the sides in a wave of creamy, dreamy perfection.
Whether you are serving this festive quick bread for the holiday season, Valentine's Day, or just for fun, this elegant loaf with its rich red interior is perfect for any occasion and is sure to impress.
For more traditional Southern chocolate desserts, try my Old fashioned Cocoa Cola Cake Recipe.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Easy to make - Although it looks impressive, this red velvet loaf recipe couldn't be easier to make. It comes together in 15 minutes using two bowls and a whisk, no mixer required!!
- Moist, velvety soft texture - With its rich, authentic velvety smooth texture and dense but tender crumb, this moist cake practically melts in your mouth.
- Perfect for any occasion - This delicious red velvet loaf cake can be enjoyed for breakfast, brunch, or dessert. Its beautifully bold red color makes it the perfect dessert for Valentine's Day, Christmas, or 4th of July!!
- Sweet & Tangy Cream Cheese Glaze - Red velvet isn't the same without a decadent drizzle of cream cheese!! The tanginess of the glaze contrasts beautifully with the subtle chocolate flavor of the cake, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.
What is Quick bread?
This red velvet loaf just happens to be a quick bread recipe!! Essentially, a quick bread a thick batter that comes together using cake batter ingredients. The batter is stirred together and primarily uses leaveners such as baking soda and baking powder to rise.
What makes quick breads so fun to make is their quick and easy prep time. All you have to do is mix your dry ingredients, mix your wet ingredients, then stir them both together. With a 15 minute prep time and quick bake time, you can have a mouthful of tender cake in under an hour!!
Although it sounds simple enough, the key to achieving a moist and tender quick bread is to not over mix the batter. As soon the wet and dry ingredients are combined, stop mixing. This decreases the risk of overworking the gluten in the batter which will create a tender and fluffy quick bread!!
For that classic red velvet taste, you only need a few simple Southern staple ingredients you likely already have on hand. Here's what you'll need to grab to make this classic Red Velvet Loaf:
Ingredients for the red velvet loaf cake
Ingredients for the cream cheese glaze
- Cake Flour - Because of the low gluten content, cake flour ensures a light and tender crumb. If you do not have cake flour you can substitute with all purpose flour. Please note that doing so will change the texture of the cake and it will not be as tender.
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder - Natural cocoa powder is one of the hallmark ingredients of a true red velvet cake. The acid in the cocoa powder works with the buttermilk and vinegar to tenderize the gluten in the flour and create a tender, soft crumb.
- Melted Unsalted Butter - For flavor, I like to use a combination of unsalted melted butter and vegetable oil. Feel free to use salted butter if that is what you have on hand and omit the salt in the recipe.
- Vegetable Oil - Vegetable oil keeps this quick bread moist and tender for days!! If wish not to use vegetable oil, you can use an equal amount of melted butter. Or, feel free to use another neutral oil such as canola oil or sunflower oil.
- Buttermilk - Buttermilk is absolutely key for that classic, velvety smooth texture. Not only does it add moisture ensuring a tender crumb but it gives the cake that signature red velvet tang. I recommend using cultured buttermilk, not buttermilk powder.
- Red Food Coloring - I prefer using gel food coloring because it has a higher concentration than liquid food color. For this recipe, I used AmeriColor "Super Red".
- Distilled white vinegar - Vinegar actives the baking soda which helps give the cake a good rise.
- Cream Cheese - Be sure to use room temperature brick style full fat cream cheese and not spreadable or low fat cream cheese.
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
Modernize It - Variations
Red velvet and cream cheese may be the classic dream pairing, but to honest, red velvet is uniquely versatile and pairs well with many different flavors. If you find yourself wanting to step out of your comfort zone, listed below are some variations to consider:
- Peppermint red velvet loaf - For a holiday inspired loaf, add peppermint extract and top the cake with crushed peppermint candies.
- Strawberry frosted red velvet loaf - If you are craving a little spring/summer inspiration, you can top your loaf with a sweet and creamy strawberry frosting.
- Chocolate chips - Increase the chocolate decadence by adding up to one cup of semi sweet or white chocolate chips and top the cake with a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar.
- Whipped cream - Or, you can forego the glazes all together and top this loaf with a dollop of silky smooth whipped cream cheese!!
- Chocolate ganache - Chocolate ganache would also taste delicious!! If you use the linked recipe, decrease the chocolate and cream to 4 oz and omit the coffee.
- White chocolate glaze - If you are really missing the Starbucks red velvet loaf, you can top this loaf with a white chocolate glaze!!
This recipe has not been tested with other substitutions or variations. If you happen to try any from the list above or add your own spin with new ingredients, please let us know how it turned out in the comments below.
Step by Step Instructions
With this simple quick bread mixing method, making this red velvet loaf couldn't be easier. Forget waiting in the long line at Starbucks, all you need is a whisk, two bowls, and your favorite 9x5 loaf pan!! With these foolproof step by step instructions, you'll be enjoying a thick slice with your morning cup of coffee in no time!! Here is how to make and bake this delicious quick bread:
Before you start, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with non stick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Step 1: Mix the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Whisk in the kosher salt. Set aside.
Step 2: Mix the wet ingredients. In a large separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until combined. The mixture should be thick. Next, add in the vegetable oil and melted butter, whisking until combined. Lastly, add in the buttermilk, vanilla extract, and food coloring and whisk until smooth.
Step 3: Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk together until almost combined. Next, add in the rest of the dry ingredients. Lightly whisk the mixture together. Then, switch to a rubber spatula and gently fold in the rest of the dry ingredients until just combined.
Step 4: Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth with the back of a spoon or offset spatula. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Let the bread cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Then, using the parchment overhang, lift the bread out of the pan and onto the wire rack to cool completely.
Step 5: Make the cream cheese glaze. In a small bowl using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and vanilla extract on high speed until smooth. Then, add the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined. Lastly, add the milk and mix until smooth.
Step 6: Glaze and garnish. Glaze the cooled loaf cake with the cream cheese glaze and garnish with cake crumbs if desired.
Top tip: To make the red velvet cake crumbles to top the cake, take a pairing knife and gently trim off small pieces across the top of the cake. With your fingers break the slices into tiny crumbs. After glazing, top the cake with the cake crumbs.
Expert Baking Tips
- To easily remove the quick bread from the loaf pan, spray the loaf pan with non stick baking spray. Then, line the pan with parchment paper. The parchment paper should be long enough to hang over the two longest sides.
- Use room temperature ingredients. Room temperature ingredients are important to ensure the ingredients mix together evenly. Allow your eggs and buttermilk come to room temperature at least two hours prior to baking.
- Properly measure your flour. For best results, I recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients. If you do not have a kitchen scale, measure your flour using the scoop and level method. Not properly measuring your ingredients will add more flour to the recipe resulting a dry cake.
- Stir carefully. When mixing the wet and dry ingredients, stir only until you no longer see streaks of flour. Over mixing the batter over works the gluten strands resulting in a tough, dense cake.
- Pan size. I recommend using a 9x5 over an 8x4 pan. If using an 8x4 pan, only fill the pan until ⅔ full. Any additional batter will leak out of the pan while baking. You can also use this mix to make muffins!!
- For muffins: Make the batter as directed. Pre heat the oven to 425 and line a muffin/cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Use an ice cream scoop to fill each liner, overfilling each liner to the top. Bake at 425F for 5 minutes, then without opening the oven door, lower the temp to 375F and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
- Be sure to cool the cake for 2 hours before glazing. If the cake is too warm when glazed, the glaze will melt off of the cake.
How do I know when my red velvet loaf is done baking?
To ensure your quick bread is done baking, you can check for doneness a few different ways:
- Insert a wooden skewer into the center of the loaf. If the skewer comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs then the quick bread is done baking. If the skewer comes out with wet batter, then it needs more time. I like using a wooden skewer over a cake tester. It is thicker and does a better job of catching wet cake batter.
- Gently press down on the loaf with your finger. If it springs back to touch, the loaf is done. If the area pressed stays indented, then it needs a few more minutes.
- The edges of the cake should be slightly pulling away from the sides of the pan.
Because oven temperature may vary when it comes to baking time, I suggest using an oven thermometer to prevent over baking your cake.
What is red velvet? Is red velvet just chocolate and vanilla cake?
Contrary to popular belief, red velvet is not just a chocolate and vanilla cake with food coloring. Classic red velvet cake has a complex flavor profile, featuring a rich, tanginess with a subtle hint of cocoa.
Unlike traditional chocolate cakes, the small amount of cocoa doesn't overpower the rest of the ingredients and allows them to shine. It is also not a vanilla cake with a little cocoa and red food coloring. Red velvet stands out in a league of its own. It is the only cake known to use both buttermilk and vinegar.
The buttermilk and vinegar work together to help tenderize the gluten strands of the cake creating a super soft, velvety smooth texture. They also cause a chemical reaction when mixed with the cocoa that turns the cake red. The vinegar helps to preserve the cake's beautiful red color.
What flavor is red velvet cake supposed to be?
While red velvet is often compared to a cocoa or chocolate cake, there is a unique flavor complexity that differentiates it from a traditional chocolate cake. The corner stone of a true red velvet cake is the use of natural unprocessed cocoa, buttermilk, and vinegar.
The acidity from these three ingredients is responsible for red velvet's rich, smooth texture and slight tang. Because red velvet cake uses a small amount of cocoa powder, it has a subtle chocolate flavor.
The cream cheese frosting is more flavor forward and provides a sweetness that is balanced by the tartness of the cake.
What is the best food coloring?
Originally, beet juice was used to give red velvet cake its beautiful red hue. However, red food coloring is used more commonly now days.
For this recipe, I used AmeriColor "Super Red" gel food coloring. Gel food coloring has a higher concentration and will result in a deeper red than using liquid food coloring. If you choose to use liquid food coloring instead, start by using 1 teaspoon.
If you feel like your batter is not as red as you would like it to be, increase by ½ teaspoon until you reach a color you are happy with.
What if I don't have buttermilk?
You technically don't have to use buttermilk if you do not have it on hand but I strongly recommend you do. It is important for not only for ensuring a velvety smooth texture but for that authentic red velvet flavor.
If you do not have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of whole milk. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes before stirring together and using. You can also use ¾ cup of sour cream mixed with ¼ cup of whole milk.
Store the cooled, unglazed red velvet loaf at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Because this quick bread is topped with cream cheese, it will need to be refrigerated once it is glazed. To keep it from drying out, wrap the glazed loaf cake in plastic wrap then in foil. I like to place the wrapped loaf in the loaf pan it was baked in and then cover it with foil. Store in the refrigerator for up to five days.
To get that freshly baked taste, you can heat slices of the loaf cake for 10 seconds in the microwave. Heat the slices for up to a max of 10 seconds to prevent melting the cream cheese glaze.
To freeze, wrap the cooled unglazed sliced cake with plastic wrap and place in a freezer safe container. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month. When ready to enjoy, defrost at room temperature, glaze, and serve.
It brings me so much joy when you make one of my recipes!! If you try this recipe and love it much as I do, please give it a star rating in the recipe card below. And don't forget to tag me to share your creation with me!! You can find me on Instagram @vintage_confections.
More Quick Bread Recipes You'll Love
Easy Red Velvet Loaf Cake With Cream Cheese Glaze
Red Velvet Loaf Cake
- 2 (250 g) cups Cake flour
- ¼ (21 g) cup Unsweetened cocoa powder do not use Dutch processed cocoa
- 2 teaspoons Baking powder
- ½ teaspoon Baking soda
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 (200 g) cup Granulated sugar
- 2 large Eggs room temperature
- ¼ (57 g) cup Unsalted butter melted and cooled
- ¼ (56 g) cup Vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon Red food gel I used AmeriColor Super Red
- 1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon Distilled white vinegar
- 1 (240 g) cup Buttermilk room temperature
Cream Cheese Glaze
- 2 oz Cream cheese room temperature
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 1 (120 g) cup Powdered sugar sifted
- 1 tablespoon Whole milk
For the Red Velvet Loaf
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with non stick baking spray and line the long side of the pan with parchment paper. The parchment paper should make a sling and hang off the sides for the pan for easy removal.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Whisk in the kosher salt. Set aside.2 (250 g) cups Cake flour, ¼ (21 g) cup Unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons Baking powder, ½ teaspoon Baking soda, ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until combined. The mixture should be thick. Next, add in the vegetable oil and melted butter, whisking until combined. Lastly, add the buttermilk, vanilla extract, and food coloring and whisk until smooth.1 (200 g) cup Granulated sugar, 2 large Eggs, ¼ (57 g) cup Unsalted butter, ¼ (56 g) cup Vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon Red food gel, 1 tablespoon Vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon Distilled white vinegar, 1 (240 g) cup Buttermilk
- Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk together until almost combined. Next, add in the rest of the dry ingredients. Lightly whisk the mixture together. Then, switch to a rubber spatula and gently fold in the rest of the dry ingredients until just combined. Be careful not to over mix and deflate the batter. The batter may look a little lumpy but it's ok.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth with the back of a spoon or offset spatula.
- Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. The bread should have a dome shape and bounce back when lightly pressed.
- Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Then, using the parchment overhang, lift the loaf out of the pan and place onto the cooling rack. Let the bread cool completely before glazing.
For the Cream Cheese Glaze
- In a small bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and vanilla extract on medium speed. When combined, mix on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.2 oz Cream cheese, 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- Add the sifted powdered sugar and mix on low until combined. Increase the speed to high and mix until creamy and smooth, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Pour in the milk and mix until smooth.1 tablespoon Whole milk, 1 (120 g) cup Powdered sugar
- Place the cooling rack with the red velvet loaf over a parchment lined baking sheet. Pour the glaze on top of the cooled cake and garnish with red velvet cake crumbs. Enjoy!!