bonnies red velvet cake

How I came about obtaining this highly coveted recipe is a bit of a random story…

About five years ago I went to get eyelash extensions and I met Bonnie, a gorgeous, funny and vivacious American who was oddly familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on where I knew her from.  Anyway, whilst I’m parked up with my eyes shut, we chatted (it’s not often I meet someone who can give me a good run for my money in the chatterbox department… Bonnie, it turned out, is a kindred spirit). The conversation quickly turned to our mutual love of food and Bonnie mentions that she’s a chef by trade and she was on a reality TV programme back home in the USA. The penny dropped: This is Bonnie, runner up winner from season 3 of Hell’s Kitchen.  And here she is,  in Napier, applying my eyelash extensions.  

Anyway, not only did I leave Bonnie that day with a stunning set of eyelashes, I also left promising that I’d give her signature cake recipe a go – an odd sounding cake:  Red velvet.  Remember, this was five years ago,  back then red velvet was a relatively unknown flavour and I was highly skeptical. However, I’m open minded and figured I’d live on the edge and give the recipe a good go.   Which I did, clearly – and, despite not owning a sweet tooth, if there’s cake and it’s red velvet, I’m buggered. Get out of my way.

Fast forward a few years: Bonnie ditched the eyelash extension trade and opened Bonnie’s Cakes, delighting Hawke’s Bay residents with her American style sweet treats (naturally her red velvet cupcakes became famous! But sadly Bonnie shut up shop about a year ago).   For me, Bonnie’s dramatic bright red velvet cake is one of my most treasured recipes and it’s my ‘go to’ birthday cake or celebration cake.  It’s soft, moist and super delicious. The cream cheese icing – well, suffice to say this is the only cream cheese icing recipe you’ll ever need.  Haven’t tried red velvet cake? You haven’t lived. Get in!

Thanks for sharing the love Bonnie 🙂

Bonnie’s Red Velvet Cake


  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 230 grams butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 60 mls red food coloring
  • 2 1/2 cups normal flour (not self raising)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • Cream Cheese Icing
  • 1 250g package of cream cheese (I use a block of Philadelphia), softened
  • 115 grams butter, softened
  • 3 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. In a mixing bowl (or cake mixer) cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Add vanilla.
  4. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture in three batches, alternating with adding the buttermilk (also in batches).
  5. In a separate little bowl, mix cocoa, food colouring, baking soda and vinegar together, and then add to the cake batter.  Mix well.
  6. Pour batter into x2 greased and floured cake tins (I use ones that are about 20cm round)
  7. Bake for 25 mins (ish - or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean)
  8. Remove from heat and cool completely before icing. 
  9. To make the icing: Mix together cream cheese and butter, then slowly add icing sugar.. Add vanilla and lemon juice.  Mix well.
  10. To ice: Sandwich the two cakes together with the cream cheese icing, then swirl the rest all over the cake. Decorate with grated chocolate, or, for a super-duper colour injection, M&Ms are always a crowd pleaser.
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Bonnie's red velvet cake
Red velvet batter. Not for the faint hearted.
bonnies red velvet cake
My son’s ninth birthday cake (August 2015). No surprises on the flavour…