Using less Sugar than the recipe calls for


I am evaluating Red Velvet cake recipes for making a wedding cake. One recipe I have found makes a beautiful batter and layer cake. The flavor is nice but is very very sweet. The recipe calls for 3 cups of sugar and 2 cups of flour. If I leave out 1 cup of sugar will this effect the structure if the cake?

badge posted by: Rhonnie on August 27, 2011 at 7:14 pm in Q & A
tags: less sugar
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reply by: mumpy on August 27, 2011 at 8:39 pm

i don't know how much sugar you can eliminate without affecting structure, but i've cut back on the sugar by 15 to 20 percent in almost all my recipes....i started doing it because i read somewhere that doing it in chocolate recipes will enhance? bring out? improve? the chocolate taste and i've found that it works for a group we prefer dark chocolate to the sweeter taste of milk chocolate, so it may be a question of personal taste....i've done in other recipes as well, and had good results, but i've had to experiment...results vary too much...cookies can't take much of a reduction, but in general i've had decent results with cakes.

i hope someone with a good working knowledge of food chemistry can offer you a more precise answer.

reply by: Mike Nolan on August 27, 2011 at 8:40 pm
Mike Nolan

I'm pretty sure it would affect the structure of the cake, but it may be worth testing anyway, as you might be able to tweak it in other ways and still come up with a good cake.

Most red velvet cakes are very very sweet.

reply by: swirth on August 28, 2011 at 9:29 am

WOW...your recipe calls for way more sugar than any recipes I've seen or used. I'd typed three Red Velvet Cake recipes on the oldBakingCircle and they all have far less sugar than the flour qty. and are all wonderful recipes...Here they are:

Here are some recipes I have used-all from community/church cookbooks from way back in the 60's-80's:

Red Velvet Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
2 well beaten eggs
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 oz. red food coloring
2 level tsp. cocoa
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. soda

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs. Add sifted flour and salt mixture alternately w/buttermilk. Add vanilla, coloring, soda and vinegar. Mix well. Bake at 350F degrees about 35 min. in two layers.

Red Velvet Cake

1/2 cup shortening (Crisco)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 oz. red food coloring
2 Tbsp. cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp. soda
1 Tbsp. vinegar

Mix soda and vinegar, set aside. Cream shortening, eggs, sugar. Make paste of cocoa and food coloring. Add flour, buttermilk and salt alternately. Add soda and vinegar. Bake at 350F degrees for 30 minutes.
I have another and will type it in a few minutes.

I don't use cream cheese icing on mine, rather one where you cook milk/flour and add it to a Crisco or butter and sugar mixture and beat for 8 minutes or so.

I make a lot of cream cheese frosting but don't have a recipe for precise measurements.

Red Velvet Cake

1/2 cup shortening (Crisco)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp. vinegar
2 tsp. cocoa
2 eggs
2 oz. bottle red food coloring
1 tsp. soda
1 cup buttermilk

Cream shortening, sugar and eggs. Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring, then add to the creamed mixture. Next add buttermilk and salt, alternating with flour. Add vanilla. Mix soda in vinegar, but hold over bowl of batter as it foams. Hastily add this mixture to the batter and beat as for any other recipes. Bake at 350F degrees for 30 min. in (3) 9" cake pans. Cool and frost with recipe in previous message.

And here is another poster's recipe just for comparison:


1/2 c. shortening (Crisco, or margarine) butter is best!
1-1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 oz. red food coloring (1/4 c.)
2-1/2 c. cake flour
1 t. soda
1 t. vinegar
1 t. vanilla
2 T. cocoa
1 t. salt
1 c. buttermilk

Cream shortening, sugar, & eggs. Make a paste of food coloring and cocoa, add to shortening mixture. Mix buttermilk & salt, add alternately with flour to mixture. Add vanilla and beat 2 - 3 minutes. Add vinegar to soda, fold in with wire spoon or fork. Pour batter into two 9-inch greased and lined layer pans. Bake at 350F. for 30 minutes.


1 c. milk
1 T. flour
1 c. confectioners' sugar (sift after measuring)
1 t. vanilla
1 c. butter (or margerine)

Cook flour & milk slowly until thick with the consistency of oatmeal. Cool and strain to remove lumps. Cream sugar, butter & vanilla until creamy & fluffy (cream until as fluffy as you can make it). Add milk & flour mixture to sugar mixture. Do not beat, just blend in.


Originally from the Waldorf Hotel in N.Y.

reply by: swirth on August 28, 2011 at 9:35 am

And here is my Red Velvet Cake frosting recipe along with lots of comments as I was helping an oldBakingCircle member...some very good tips are in this copied/pasted past thread:

RandyD...yes, when I use sugar that is not pure cane sugar or that has large sugar can be gritty even after 8 min. of beating. I always use very fine sugar now or whirl larger crystal sugar in the FP for a bit to avoid this because I don't like eating gritty stuff.

Here is my recipe, copied/pasted from a thread here:

Filled cupcake is an old Red Velvet Cake frosting that would make a great cupcake filling...I'm copying this from a past thread, so the comments to that person I typed the recipe for are included...if you'd use all Crisco, it would be just about like the Hostess fillings in Ding Dongs, Twinkies, etc.

3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter

Cook flour and milk until thick. Cream together the sugar and butter and add vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Then add the thick, cooled mixture.

I always used Crisco instead of butter (I know, I know, how bad of me, LOL) because it would beat up LOTS more fluffy than the use of butter. I used more vanilla, too. I would beat the sugar and Crisco probably 8 minutes to really get the sugar dissolved well and to make it super fluffy, then I'd add in the very cooled milk/flour mixture & beat a good bit more to get it mixed in really well...then used this to frost the Red Velvet Cake baked in 3 layers.

I know of some who used 1/2 butter and 1/2 Crisco...I never used this for any other cakes, but I'll bet it would be super good with lots of the flavorings that I have come to use the last few pecan, coconut, orange oil, lemon oil, vanilla butternut and lots more.
Hope this helps you!

reply by: KIDPIZZA on August 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Good afternoon to you. Rhonnie, this cake recipe is a out of balance type recipe. My friend whenever the weight of the sugar exceeds the weight of the flour you have a formula that is known in prof bakeries as a "HI~RATIO CAKE FORMULA". They deal in this type of recipe this way. If they will mix this recipe employing the "CREAMING METHOD" they use a ingredient that you do not have in your is known as "EMULSIFIED SHORTENING" It takes the place of the fat,ie, butter, shortening ete.

This type of recipe will work in the mixing technique known as "2 STAGE MIXING METHOD". Miss Rose Levy Biranbaum the 1st lady of cakes uses this mixing method exclusively. It fails a need to be a learned amatuer baker for this type of mixing method. Very sensitive. If you wish to learn what this cake will taste like when baked, then just follow the recipe & bake it in a "BUNDT PAN"...they are very very forgiving of out of balance cakes. As you know Rhonnie, when using this type baking pan do not place it on a baking it directly on the oven rack.

If I can help you any further post back. Consider the recipes that member SWIRTH gifted you with.

Good luck & enjoy the rest of the day.


reply by: KitchenBarbarian aka Zen on August 28, 2011 at 7:49 pm
KitchenBarbarian aka Zen

The last time I made Red Velvet Cake, I used the #2 recipe posted above. It came out very very very very VERY dry. It stuck to the pan. I literally had to cut it out of the pan (I HATE METAL PANS). I thought it was ruined. However it tasted fine by day 2 (thanks to the fact that sugar stalks water and kidnaps it out of the air, I'm guessing).

Most recipes for RVC are virtually identical. There's not a whole lot of difference between 2.5C of four and 2.25C of flour. Possibly some flavor (but not textural) differences between 2 tsp of cocoa and 2 T of cocoa.

Given the general consistency of recipes for RVC I would have to say there's something not right with the one you're talking about. All the RVC recipes I've ever seen call for less sugar than flour, without exception.

None of the modern recipes are "authentic", given that "authentic" RVC is made with beets or beet juice (I forget which). However I'm unlikely to give that a try (*shudder*).

I'm planning on trying a recipe that uses oil next time.

Oh yeah, and the "authentic" frosting is not cream cheese, it's a cooked buttercream. This is the one I use (I don't think it's much different than the one given above):

Cooked Buttercream Frosting