Red: the colour of passion, lust, desire.
It’s the colour of roses bursting into bloom.
Nervous blushes & giggles. Love.
Factoid of the day: did you know that women wearing red are perceived as more attractive to men? By my logic, I’d say a lady wearing red whilst holding a red velvet cupcake would be darn irresistible. Must try this at the pub next week, he he.
Such sexy little cupcakes, with their bold red colour and innocent white creamy frosting. Give them to a special someone, and let the science speak for itself.
But what exactly is Red Velvet Cake, oh Cake Mistress? Glad you asked. Red Velvet is a light cocoa and vanilla flavoured moist cake topped with a white fluffy cream cheese frosting. Say no more indeed.
The red colouring originally came from the cocoa, however, the bold colouring is achieved nowadays with very liberal use of red food colouring. Although I’ve made cupcakes here, you could up the dreamy cream cheese factor and make a red velvet layer cake instead.
Red inspires passion, lust & desire. And cupcakes? Also inspire passion, lust & desire.
So the two combined? Well, my friends, that’s love
RED VELVET BAKING TIPS:
- The bi-carb soda, white wine vinegar and buttermilk are essential to the recipe. Do not omit them or change the quantities.
- For the red colour, i’d use a liquid red food colouring and use 20 ml. Queen brand is excellent. I’ve previously advocated using a gel/paste, which can be harder to source. Also, some brands of gel/paste I’ve encountered have a strong bitter taste to them, ruining the cupcakes and causing a really dense or chewy texture.
- The key to these cupcakes, and most cake recipes, is to know when to stop mixing. The only time it’s ok to whip things to a frenzy is when creaming the butter and sugar together, and adding eggs. This is adding volume to your cake by whipping air into the batter. But from that point onwards, you really want to minimise mixing, because you might be beating the air out, which will deflate your cupcakes. Also, if you overbeat flour, you’re likely to get tough cupcakes.
- Electric mixers have their place, for sure. But when it comes to adding ingredients like flour, the safest option is to just use a wooden spoon and gently stir it in. The aim is to ensure the ingredients are evenly mixed only.
- Carefully weigh all ingredients and make sure they are the correct ones. Sounds silly I know, but it’s easy to accidentally pick up the plain flour instead of self raising and vice-versa.
- Bi-carb soda, which is similar to baking soda, is not the same as baking powder. They cannot be directly swapped. In this recipe, the bi-carb soda reacts with acid (white wine vinegar) to create lots of fizzy bubbles and help give the cupcakes their desired texture. Remember making exploding volcanoes at school? Yeah, like that on a small scale. Using powder is going to balls things up. And check the expiry date!
- Buttermilk is also acidic, and helps counteract the tangy taste of bi-carb soda. Using regular milk isn’t recommended, as it will affect the flavour at the very least.
- Check that your oven is calibrated correctly. Quite often the temperature on the oven knob doesn’t match the temperature inside!
- Red flags that your oven is too hot and/or the cupcakes aren’t cooking on the centre rack: large domes, very cracked tops, exploding cupcakes.
I’ve made a video tutorial demonstrating how I make them and what they should look like. It’s really tricky for me to know what went wrong if they look or taste strange, but I can show you what happens when they go right. The tutorial is up on YouTube here
RED VELVET CUPCAKES
YOU WILL NEED
60 g Unsalted Butter, room temp
150 g Caster Sugar
1 large Egg, lightly beaten
10 g Cocoa Powder
20 ml Red Food colouring, liquid
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
120 ml Buttermilk
150 g Plain flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Bicarb Soda
1 1/2 teaspoon White wine Vinegar
Cream Cheese Frosting
300 g Icing sugar, sifted
50 g Unsalted butter, room temp
125 g Cream Cheese, slightly softened
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Line a 12-hole cupcake tin with patty cases.
- Place butter and sugar in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well mixed.
- In a small bowl, mix the food colouring, cocoa powder and vanilla extract until it makes a thick paste.
- Add the paste to the butter mixture and beat thoroughly until the colour is mixed evenly through the batter. Be sure to scrape down any stray batter from the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. The mix should be a deep rose pink/red.
- On slow speed, slowly add half the buttermilk until just mixed then add half the flour until just mixed. Repeat for the remaining milk and flour.
- Add the salt, bicarb and vinegar, beating only until they are fully incorporated.
- Spoon a heaped tablespoon of mixture into each paper cases until no more than two-thirds full.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes on the centre oven rack, or until the top of a cupcake bounces back when lightly touched. (A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean).
- Once the cupcakes have cooled slightly in the tray, remove them and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese frosting.
- In a food processor or electric mixer, beat the icing sugar and butter until it has a sandy texture.
- Dice the cream cheese into smaller cubes then add to the mix one-by-one, beating until completely combined. Do not worry if the mixture seems too thick halfway through; it will thin itself out as more and more cream cheese is added.
- On medium-high speed, continue beating the frosting until it becomes light and fluffy. This takes around five minutes.
- When the cupcakes are cold, pipe the cream cheese frosting on top, or use an icecream scoop to dollop the frosting on the top.