This past Saturday my youngest brother Steven graduated from high school. We are all so proud of him. He is a really wonderful guy, and I love him like crazy! It seems like just yesterday I was giving him “tickle torture” and now he’s a high school grad!!! We didn’t have an open house or anything because our family is pretty low-key, but I still wanted to do something to honor his accomplishment, so I decided to bake him a graduation cake. (Note: please excuse the tiny crack that was created during transport…oops!)

Our high school colors were maroon and gold (GO COUGARS!) so I wanted to incorporate those into the cake. My What’s Cooking buddy Jessica had the brilliant idea of doing a red velvet cake – perfect! I made the red velvet cake and frosting recipes from her blog, and then decorated with store bought frosting using my fabulous Williams Sonoma mechanical pastry bag. I achieved the maroon and gold I was going for with Wilton icing colors. You can buy these at Michael’s individually or as a set. These are a great thing to have around for baking and decorating. Per the instructions on their website, I used burgundy as the base of the red icing and then added red to give it a more maroon hue. For the gold, I used only the golden yellow. The cake and frosting recipes are below. I didn’t make any alterations in the cake recipe. With the frosting, I omitted the nuts as usual, and I only softened the butter and cream cheese in the microwave before beating as opposed to melting in a saucepan. I think this helped the frosting have a thicker consistency.

  • Yield about 12 servings


2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 tsp white vinegar
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
5/8 ounce bottle red food coloring

For the frosting:

1(8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 (1 pound) box confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 350F. Line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Cream the eggs, sugar, oil and vinegar. Sift the cake flour, baking soda, and cocoa together. Add the flour mixture to the creamed ingredients while beating. Slowly add the buttermilk. While still beating, add the vanilla and the food coloring. Pour into prepared cake pans and bake for about 25 minutes. Press lightly; if the layers are spongy, then the cake is done. Frost the cooled layers, assemble and frost the top and sides. Serves 12 to 14.


  • 02

    Combine the cream cheese and butter in a small mixing bowl and soften in the microwave. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and mix well. If the frosting becomes too thick, add a little milk. Frost one 8-inch or 9-inch layer cake.