Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake

This is a dense, old school Red Velvet Cake with fluffy cooked vanilla frosting.

homemade Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake slice on a plate in front of the cake on a stand

This an old-style dense red velvet cake recipe. A rich chocolately cake is layered and topped with a fluffy vanilla-flavored frosting. If you need a cake for a special occasion – a birthday, Valentine’s Day, or a holiday – this red velvet cake recipe is for you. This cake is a rich blend of eggs, shortening, buttermilk, cocoa, flour, sugar, and vanilla made more colorful with red food coloring.

The cooked frosting is an equally rich blend of shortening, flour, milk, butter, sugar, and vanilla. It is so much better than cream cheese frosting, which pales in comparison to the cooked frosting the Waldorf uses. I prefer cream cheese frosting on carrot cake.

How Did Red Velvet Cakes First Come About?

In the Victorian age, bakers learned how to soften the proteins in flour. They used ingredients such as cornstarch, cocoa, or almond flour, resulting in a smoother, more refined texture than other cakes. These softer cakes were called velvet cakes.

The red color of velvet cakes did not come initially from food dyes. That’s because the original color was produced by a chemical reaction between cocoa powder, vinegar, and baking soda. At one time, the red color was much brighter because cocoa powder once contained anthocyanins, pigments responsible for the red colors found in foods like red cabbage and raspberries. 

Today’s cocoa powder contains an alkalizing agent to neutralize acidity, affecting its color-changing properties. That’s why we have to fancy up our red velvet cake with a little extra makeup these days and add food dye to give it that extra pop. 

The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City claims that it is the red velvet cake’s birthplace, and indeed this red Waldorf cake has been a popular menu item there since the 1950s. However, historians argue that the red velvet cake originated in the southern US.

  • You can read a lot more about the history of red velvet cakes by clicking here.


Here’s a list of what you need for the cake and frosting:

  • Shortening
  • Eggs
  • Red food coloring
  • Buttermilk
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Sugar
  • Cocoa powder
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Vanilla extract
Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake ingredients

How to Make Red Velvet Cake with Cooked Frosting

  1. Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring.
  2. Cream shortening, sugar, and eggs. Add cocoa and food coloring mixture and mix well.
  3. Add buttermilk with vinegar and flour with salt alternately.
  4. By hand, fold in vanilla and baking soda.
    Waldorf Astoria red velvet cake batter in a mixing bowl
  5. Pour batter evenly into three greased and floured cake pans.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove cake layers from the pans and cool completely.
  8. Cook flour and milk until thick.
  9. Beat shortening, butter, sugar, vanilla until creamy.
  10. Add milk and flour mixture a little at a time and beat well.
    Waldorf Astoria red velvet cake frosting in a mixing bowl
  11. Spread frosting on the cake, between each layer and on the sides.
a slice of homemade Waldorf Astoria red velvet cake on a plate

Favorite Cake Recipes

More Holiday Treats Recipes

Be sure to check out more of my easy cake recipes and the best restaurant copycat recipes right here on CopyKat.com!

homemade Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake slice on a plate in front of the cake on a stand

Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake

Make the well-known Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake at home.  No cake mix needed. 
5 from 6 votes
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cake Recipes, Red Velvet, Red Velvet Cake
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 384kcal


Cake ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ounces red food coloring
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Cake Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and flour 3 cake pans.
  • Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring.
  • Cream shortening, sugar, and eggs. Add cocoa and food coloring mixture. Mix well.
  • Add buttermilk with vinegar and flour with salt alternately.
  • By hand, fold in vanilla and baking soda.
  • Pour batter equally into cake pans.
  • Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove cake layers from pans and cool completely.

Frosting Instructions

  • Cook flour and milk until thick.
  • Beat shortening, margarine, sugar, vanilla until creamy.
  • Add milk and flour mixture a little at a time and beat well. 


Calories: 384kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 38mg | Sodium: 259mg | Potassium: 81mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 255IU | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1.1mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Pamela Clifton

    5 stars
    I have had this recipe for almost 50 yrs from my new mother in-law. Everything is correct except the flour,milk,buttersugar and vanilla is the FILLING between layers. Then the frosting is a “7 Minute Icing” recipe using egg whites and Karo.

  2. Donna Duke

    5 stars
    This is the recipe my mom always used. It is my favorite & I always requested she make it for my birthday. I’m making her recipes now. She’s almost 90 and she enjoys the cakes I bake using her recipes plus others I create 🙂

  3. Leeah

    My mom and grandma always made this for me for my birthday, but used green food coloring since my birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day! I am making this now, but cannot remember if it needs to be refrigerated because of the milk in the frosting.

  4. Melissa Sage

    5 stars
    Because my birthday is on Valentine’s Day my mother made this cake for me every year. She even managed to send it to me when I was in boarding school in the sixties. So happy to find this recipé as I have lost her’s. Thank you.

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