Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lincoln’s Red Velvet (Cheesecake) Cake

Psssst…. there’s a surprise inside this pale exterior!

Oh yeah!  Red Velvet Cake, with Cream Cheese Frosting… AND A LAYER OF CHEESECAKE IN THE MIDDLE!  This cake has been in the planning process since February.  When my friend began her plans for her husband’s surprise birthday, I immediately asked if I could make the birthday cake for Lincoln.  I love any opportunity to bake, and wanted to know his favorite flavor.  She began to describe his favorite cake by saying “He loves red velvet.”  Ok, cool, I’ve never done a red velvet cake.  Then said she said “Well, actually, his FAVORITE cake is this red velvet cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory.”  Immediately I thought of this red velvet cheesecake.  But as she described it more, I realized it wasn’t that at all.  After a little more back and forth (she’s British/French and I’m from Kentucky, so we don’t always speak the same language… j/k), and a little googling I realized THIS is what she was describing!  HO-LY COW.  Can I do that?  I’ve never made a red velvet cake OR a cheesecake, but I do like a good challenge!

I spent a LOT of time thinking about “Lincoln’s Cake” (which is what I always referred to it as when discussing it).  A little more googling revealed at least two other bloggers (here and here) had successfully made this cake.  While I didn’t follow either of their recipes, it definitely boosted my confidence to know it CAN be done!  Around the same time I was pondering this cake, The Kitchn posted some very helpful tips on how to achieve a great cheesecake.  This just added more “fuel to my fire”, and my confidence in baking a cheesecake grew more.  I didn’t own a cheesecake pan, and luckily my friend Liesl let me borrow hers.  The more cheesecake recipes I scoured, the more I read that cheesecakes freeze really well.  This led to me solving my biggest dilemma in the preparation of this cake, HOW IN THE HELL DO I GET CHEESECAKE IN THE MIDDLE?  I realized if I FROZE the cheesecake layer, it would be super easy to transport when layering the cake.  And whaddya know, I was right.

When it came down to choosing the actual recipes I would follow, I wanted sources I trusted.  Martha Stewart has never let me down before, so I went with her Classic Cheesecake recipe.  I adapted it by skipping the crust, and halving the recipe, to come out with a thinner layer.  And for the red velvet cake, that was practically a no-brainer.  I went straight to Bridget’s Red Velvet Cake Comparison.  I didn’t blindly choose her favorite.  Instead I poured over her every word, and weighed her every description, to figure out which one I wanted to use.  She won me over with what she described as her favorite, and so I chose to follow Kelsey of Apple a Day’s adaption of a Saveur recipe.

Now for some notes on the structure and assembly of this gorgeous cake.  Since I knew when I baked the cheesecake I wouldn’t be making a crust, I lined the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.  Once baked, I let the cheesecake cool completely, then stored it in the refrigerator overnight.  The next morning I removed the outer ring of the cheesecake pan, but left the bottom circle of the pan, and wrapped it in two layers of plastic wrap and two layers of aluminum foil and placed it in the freezer.  When baking the red velvet layers, I used these Bake Even strips to help achieve a level even cake.  I also used a cake leveler to level it perfectly once it had cooled.  I chose to apply frosting to only the outside layers, as adding it to the cheesecake layer seems a bit excessive.  So, when it came time to put the cheesecake in the middle, I took it out of the freezer, unwapped it from the foil and plastic.  The metal bottom of the pan was easy to remove.  Then I simply peeled off the parchment paper layer.  It literally could not have been easier.  The cheesecake never seemed like it would break, and was quite sturdy.  I used the plastic wrap I had removed as a buffer between my hand and the cheesecake when transferring it, to keep the cheesecake from sticking to my warm hands.  After I put it on the red velvet cake, I realized it seemed to be about half an inch too wide.  So, I just let it sit, and soften for about 5-10 minutes, then I cut the edges off with a knife.  I then applied the crumb coat, which is VERY necessary when you have such a bright cake under white frosting!  After some time in the fridge, I applied the second, thicker layer of frosting.  Topped with shaved chocolate and white chocolate curls, this is one of the prettiest cakes I think I’ve ever made!

Now, you probably want to know what this tastes like, right?  Well I can assure you this cake received RAVE reviews.  The birthday boy was very happy, and while the blown out candles were still smoking, he jumped up and gave me a big hug.  (Wonder what made him instantly think I was the baker? hehe)  Everyone said it was amazing.  The red velvet is sweet, with that slight tang from the buttermilk.  It’s so hard to describe that flavor.  But it was rich, and moist!  The crumb was absolutely perfect; spongy and tight.  It was really fluffy too.  And the cheesecake…  For my very first cheesecake, I was amazed that I could do it, and it was quite easy.  Cheesecakes always seemed daunting and scary.  This one didn’t even crack or bubble!  It set perfectly.  The flavor was rich, and decadent, just as cheesecake should be.  Oh, it was so good!  And the frosting, was perfect as well.  It wasn’t overly sweet, but it was smooth, and delicious.  This truly was a match made in heaven!

I know I don’t usually write this much, but this cake was just so delicious, and surprisingly easier than I expected.  It is time consuming, but it’s not hard.  It’s especially easier when you break up the steps into different days.  The cheesecake needs enough time to freeze anyway.  And frosting sits well in the fridge OR freezer, just let it return to room temp before using.  So, essentially, you could do those steps ahead of time, and then on the day of, just bake the layers, let the cool, and assemble and frost!  The cake cuts easiest when chilled, but even when not straight from the fridge it’s still easy to get a clean slice.  The hardest part actually is transferring a slice to the plate!

This cake was so delicious and stunningly beautiful, I did something I’ve NEVER done before.  I baked it again, with the sole purpose of photographing it for the blog.  Lincoln’s surprise birthday party was at night, at a restaurant, and there were lots of people, so there was no way I could get a good photograph.  So, before I returned the cheesecake pan, I did it all again!  But, this way I was able to share it with lots of people who hadn’t tried the first cake; and also with some of the people that had, and wanted more!

(Love the idea of this cake, but are you more of a chocolate & peanut butter person? Check out my new adaption of this cake! Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cake)


Lincoln's Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake

cake and frosting adapted from Apple A Day, originally adapted from Saveur
cheesecake adapted from Martha Stewart


For the cheesecake:
1 1/4 pounds bar cream cheese (20 oz), room temperature
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

For the cake:
2 1/2 c. cake flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 TBSP cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. buttermilk
2 TBSP (1 oz.) red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. white distilled vinegar

For the frosting:
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
12 oz. butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. confectioners' sugar

1 bar white or dark chocolate (Optional for decoration), I used Ghiradelli


For cheesecake:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Set a kettle of water to boil. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium until fluffy, scraping down side of bowl. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in lemon zest and juice, and salt. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down side of bowl after each addition. Beat in sour cream.

Cut parchment paper in a circle and line the bottom of the cheesecake pan. Wrap bottom half of pan in foil. Pour in filling; place in a roasting pan. Pour in boiling water to come halfway up side of springform. Bake until just set in center, about 45 minutes. Remove pan from water; let cool 20 minutes. Run a paring knife around edge; let cool completely. Cover; chill overnight, then wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°. Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt into a medium bowl.

Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Divide batter evenly between 2 greased and floured 9" round cake pans and bake 25-30 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool 5 minutes, then invert each onto a plate, then invert again onto a cooling rack. Let cakes cool completely, then level.

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add sugar and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 5–7 minutes.

Place bottom layer on cake stand. Remove cheesecake from freezer, unwrap, and remove from metal bottom, then peel off parchment paper. Place cheesecake layer on top of the bottom layer of the red velvet cake. If the cheesecake is wider than the cake, and it is necessary to to trim it, wait approximately 10 minutes for the cheesecake to soften, then trim it with a knife. Place top layer of cake on top of the cheesecake, and coat with a generous layer of the cream cheese frosting to act as the crumb coat. Be careful not to get any red velvet crumbs in the bowl of frosting! Refrigerate approximately 30 minutes, then frost with as much of the remaining frosting as necessary. Top with shaved white chocolate and/or shaved dark chocolate. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (This cake doesn't have to stay in the fridge until IMMEDIATELY before serving, so don't worry if you have a 30 minute lapse between the refrigerator and serving.)

**Update** I’ve gotten so much great response on this cake, and I greatly appreciate when readers comment saying they’ve made the cake.  And I love to see when you send in your own photos!  Here’s a couple:

Commenter #48 Amber’s cake:

Commenter #49 Patrick’s cake:


photo (1)Cake Red Velvet 3

Reader Joyce’s cake, Christmas version!

  Pin It

233 Responses to “Lincoln’s Red Velvet (Cheesecake) Cake”

  1. 151
    Rosa — April 23, 2012 @ 2:35 am


    I made this cake for my birhtday a few months ago and found the cake bit a bit heavy. Did I do something wrong or is it supposed to be a dense cake? Would butter instead of oil inprove things?

    The taste was really good by the way!

    • Erin replied: — April 23rd, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed the flavor at least! This cake is somewhat dense, but not super heavy. If you’re used to cake mixes only, this will seem denser, as cake mixes have this odd insane fluffiness I find weird.

      One thing that can cause a dense cake (I have discovered via Google!) is over mixing the batter. Also, if your baking soda is old it could contribute.

      I hope that helps!

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  4. 152
    Rachel D — May 13, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

    It looks fantastic! I was quite dissappointed when I tried it though 🙁 i put so much work into it and it didn’t turn out that great. The cheesecake part was fine, although I had way too much mixture so I made two. The red velvet cake just tasted like food coloring, I hadn’t even enough color in for a rich red, and I added extra vanilla extract but it still didn’t taste nice. The frosting was okay but quite tangy and sickening. I must have done something wrong because everyone else said it was amazing 🙁

  5. 153
    Cynthia Jouett — June 2, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

    I love lemon cake so used your directions to make a lemon cheesecake cake. It turned out great. I can’t wait to try the red velvet one you did. I haven’t made a red velvet cake before but I have always wanted to. Thank you.

    • Erin replied: — June 7th, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

      Oh yum! I bet this would be delicious with the lemon flavor! Thanks for the comment! 🙂

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  7. 154
    Michelle Dancel — June 6, 2012 @ 9:46 am

    I love this cake!! I made it for my husbands birthday and it was a hit. I tried many other red velvet recipes but none compare to this one. Ive made it several times for family parties and get a tremendous amount of compliments. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us Erin!!!

  8. 155
    Jenna — June 15, 2012 @ 8:00 am

    I made this cake for my husbands birthday yesterday. I’ve never made a cake from scratch before but your instructions we’re easy to follow and it came out beautifully and tasted delicious!

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  10. 156
    Annie — July 9, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

    There’s only 1 TBSP of cocoa powder?

    • Erin replied: — July 9th, 2012 @ 3:54 pm


  11. 157
    kimberly — July 13, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

    I made this cake for my daughter’s 19th birthday. Am icing it now…will post a pic later. The house smells heavenly. Sarah’s favorite dessert is cheesecake factory red velvet cheesecake so I will let you know how this one compares!! thanks for the easy to follow instructions!

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  13. 158
    lisa hira — August 29, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

    Hello erin I just came across this fabulous cake and wana try it can I substitute the cake flour for plain flour?

  14. 159
    lisa hira — August 29, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

    Do u have a Facebook page?

    • Erin replied: — August 29th, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

      I do! I’m not super active on it, but I try! Here it is.

  15. 160
    Erica — September 15, 2012 @ 11:04 am

    I can’t wait to try this out! I am going to make it for my husband’s birthday later next month.

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  17. 161
    marie — October 24, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

    hi i made the chesse cake part 2 times for 1 cake.the first time lord only knows what i did wrong. it ended up in the trash. the second one came out sooo much better. it just thinner then i thought it would be and thinner then the pics u have
    what did i do wrong? i used a 9 in pan…..

    • Erin replied: — October 25th, 2012 @ 1:51 am

      Hmmm… Not sure what went wrong. This cheesecake layer is certainly thinner than your average cheesecake, but it should come out looking like mine in the picture if you used the correct sized pan. How was the consistency? Was it like a normal cheesecake?

  18. 162
    deana — November 1, 2012 @ 8:02 am

    I have a Question about Red Velvet Cake. I have a good friend who loves This cake but she is not able to have it anymore because of the red dye that is in it. she was telling me in a conversation when we were talking about baking how she would love to have this cake so I told her I would make her one sense she does not bake I know she cannot have the Red food coloring in it I think it has to do with the number of the red dye like kids with allergies. Can I use any color food coloring in place of the Red? I would just have to change the name to like. Orange Devil Food Cake, Yellow (Lemon) Deviled Food Cake lol. What would be a good food color to use. I am thinking of using a food coloring Paste would that be better or should I just stick with the liquid. Maybe a Green Food coloring?
    Thanks Deana

    • Erin replied: — November 1st, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

      I would think this should taste the same with any other color, but haven’t experimented myself. I am also not quite familiar with food color paste. I know it is more concentrated, but if it uses the same ingredients as the liquid, your friend would probably still be allergic. I’m sorry I can’t answer your question further, I hope that helps!

  19. 163
    Hannah — November 3, 2012 @ 11:29 am

    I can’t remember if I commented on this or not…but since the holidays are coming up…
    THIS IS AN AMAZING CAKE, it is fun to make and more fun to watch your families face when they realize that there is a cheesecake in the center.
    I sent out the usual Thanksgiving day “REQUESTS” email…What do you want for sides? What about new recipes? most important…WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR DESSERT…every response…Lincolns Red Velvet Cake! I made it last year and it was huge hit!
    Thanks for sharing Erin! Folks if you are looking for the “Wow” factor during the holidays…this is it!

    • Erin replied: — November 3rd, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

      This may be the sweetest comment I’ve ever gotten! Thank you so much! I’m so glad to hear it was enjoyed. 🙂

  20. 164
    Tracy — November 5, 2012 @ 2:26 am

    I’m happy to see that this post is still getting lots of traffic! I made this for my husband when he first came back from his deployment back in 2010. It was the first thing I remember spending so much time baking since I was a brand spankin’ new baker. I figured I had to go big with this one! It was absolutely fabulous! My husband was floored!! : P

    Now I’m making it again for a couple of friends’ birthdays. One loves red velvet, and the other loves cheesecake. Seriously, light bulb popped up, and I searched your recipe again. 🙂 It’s going a lot more smoothly now that I have tons more experience, and I’m super excited to eat it tomorrow!

  21. 165
    Leila — December 26, 2012 @ 8:48 am

    I made this for christmas, and I am so in love. I was very nervous! But it worked out well! Very tasty! I need to better my cake leveling and chocolate shaving skills. I opted not to shave chocolate and top it with crumbled cake. It looks divine! I wish I could send you a picture, but I cannot see where to attach! I am sure you get a lot anyway 🙂 Thank you so much for posting this recipe! Making this will be a new part of my Christmas tradition!

  22. 166
    Tammy Shelley — February 6, 2013 @ 4:29 am

    I have made this cake 3 times and each cake was absolutely beautiful and delicious! I added a thin layer of icing on the top of the bottom cake layer and the cheesecake layer since you commented about difficulty in transferring slice to a plate and it was perfect. I have shared your link with MANY who have asked for the recipe! One question though…. Did you use an 8 or 9 inch pan? My cheesecake layer has never turned out as thick as yours in the pic. Thanks again! BTW… I will be making cake number 4 tonight!!!

    • Erin replied: — February 6th, 2013 @ 10:58 am

      Thank you so much for the feedback! And thank you for the tip as well! I always use a 9 inch cheesecake & cake pan. Perhaps it’s not that my cheesecake layer is thicker, but maybe my cake layers are thinner? Are you leveling yours off with cake leveler? (Here’s the one I use.)

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  25. 167
    barbara — May 27, 2013 @ 9:43 am

    where do i go to print this recipe in a smaller version so i dont have to use up all my ink

    • Erin replied: — May 27th, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

      Did you see the “print” button at the top of the recipe? It opens into a printer friendly version.

  26. 168
    Jina — June 4, 2013 @ 2:30 am

    Hi there are using WordPress for your site platform?

    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own.
    Do you need any coding expertise to make your own blog? Any help would be really appreciated!

    • Erin replied: — June 5th, 2013 @ 8:51 pm

      I use WordPress, and I must admit I don’t know much about it. There’s a and a, and I can’t even remember which I use. I hired Lindsay, blogger behind Love & Olive Oil, who also runs PurrDesign with her husband to set up my blog. Worth every penny!

  27. 169
    Sakeena — August 3, 2013 @ 6:48 pm

    Hello, I made this back in 2011 and really want to make it again for my holiday but I was wondering if i were too double both the cake and cheesecake recipe would i be able to use a sheet pan (cookie sheet) to bake them? I need to make a big batch! If youve ever tried it or know whether it will work or not please let me know????!!!!!

  28. 170
    Kim — September 20, 2013 @ 6:21 pm

    I can not wait to make this for my brother, who happens to be a cheesecake lover. Thanks. I will follow up and let you guys know how it turned out.

  29. 171
    janice — September 23, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

    Have a question…says recipe from Cheesecake factory, but recipe says from Martha Stewart. Please clarify. Cake looks wonderful and I will make this.

    • Erin replied: — September 23rd, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

      The recipe was inspired by a cake offered at the Cheesecake Factory, as it says in the body of the post. I adapted a Martha Stewart cheesecake recipe to scale it down & omit the crust; I used an adaption of a Saveur recipe for the red velvet cake & frosting. Then I figured out a method for getting the cheesecake in between the cake. The Cheesecake Factory was merely the inspiration, not recipe source. This recipe was a compilation of multiple sources.

      I do hope to give it a try, it’s truly delicious and worth the effort!

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  32. 172
    vaishnavi — March 11, 2014 @ 9:20 am

    The cake turned out awesome!!!! i made it for my cousins birthday and she absolutely loved it! thank you! the frosting was a bit runny but it gave us an excuse to take it away from the guests and put it back in the fridge :p

    • Erin Wilburn replied: — March 19th, 2014 @ 9:06 am

      Glad to hear! 🙂

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  34. 173
    ana g — March 26, 2014 @ 10:32 pm

    Made this for my son’s minion themed birthday and it was a hit…used your cheesecake recipe and a diff red velvet one and used your storage and assembly instructions…would love to share a pic of the final product.

  35. 174
    ana g — March 26, 2014 @ 10:32 pm

    Oh and I used a light buttercream frosting instead 🙂

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  37. 175
    Glenda Maritz — January 4, 2015 @ 2:45 am

    Gonna make this cake next week to spoil all the guys and dolls at Station 15, Sea Rescue in Mossel Bay RSA. They worked hard during the season, not only saving lives but 350 seal pups washed up on the beaches due to rough seas…………mmmm, can’t wait to taste

  38. 176
    Jared — December 29, 2015 @ 1:17 pm

    The Velvet Cheesecake looks delicious! I wish I had a friend that had your skill in the kitchen. Great creativity with coming up with the idea of Velvet Cheesecake!!!

  39. 177
    Melissa — October 25, 2017 @ 6:02 pm

    Can you substitute the cake flour with coconut flour? I know you need to use about a 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of coconut flour for every 1 cup of regular flour, but how about with the cake flour?

    • Erin Wilburn replied: — October 30th, 2017 @ 6:16 pm

      I’ve never actually cooked with coconut flour, so I’m no help there. 🙁 With a quick google I found a couple recipes for Red Velvet Cake made with coconut flour. You can use any red velvet cake recipe (like maybe this one? or this one?) and then follow my method for freezing layers, and follow my cheesecake recipe to make a Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake. Good luck!

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  41. 178
    Smyo73 — December 13, 2017 @ 4:27 pm

    I made a mini version. My daughter wanted for her gift for her secret Santa present.

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  43. 179
    Joe — October 21, 2018 @ 9:40 pm

    That looks delicious! I’ll be sure to give this a try!

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