Sunday, March 13, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

As a kind friend pointed out to me the other day, it's been a month since I blogged. I couldn't believe it. Not to make excuses, but after those coconut cupcakes I skipped the country and took a little Eurpoean vacation. (Lot of food blog posts to come.) Then I came back and got sick, tis the season, and then work and life got in the way. But the good news is I was cooking and baking the whole time.

I had every intention of blogging last weekend, but I got a little tied up with these red velvet cupcakes. A friend that I teach with had asked me to make red velvet cupcakes and wedding cake sugar cookies for her sisters cocktail wedding reception. I was beyond excited to take on the challenge.
When you start a big project, make sure you have all your ingredients and plan a head. I ended up running out of red die after my first batch so I made an emergency run to the store only to find that they only had generic brands of die. The first time I made a red velvet cake I could taste the die in it, tasted like chemicals. I wanted to use the same brand I had tested this round with, McCormick's; I couldn't taste it at all.  Anyway, I went to a second store to get it and forgot that I also needed oil, so I run back into the second store for a second time, only to realize that I left my wallet in the car. I go get it, and get back in line for a third time. Moral of the story: plan a head (a little better than I did).

I enjoyed that this project gave me an excuse to learn how to pipe frosting on cupcakes, instead of just frosting with a spatula by hand. I bought the Ateco 6-piece pastry tube set and did a few practice tries before I took to the actual cakes.
 After the practice tries, it still took me a few to get it perfect. I held the large pastry tube in in my right hand, and used my left hand to guide it while I worked counter clockwise. (I'm right handed.) I still had a few kinks to work out. Here are a few of my early mistakes. 
The bald cupcake: I thought I was close to the edge on these, but turns out I wasn't. They look bald, and skimpy on the frosting.
The lopsided cupcake: As I tried to fix the first problem, I ended up with this one, a little too much frosting on one side. I tried to get closer to the edge, but turns out, only on one side.
The last problem I came across was this little beauty, where the frosting didn't quite meet.
After much practice, I managed to get the perfect swirl atop these lovely red velvet cup cakes.

Now just a few notes on the actual cupcakes. As I researched out and found a few recipes I wanted to try, I found a lot of talk about using butter verses oil in the recipe. As you can see above, mine were a little oily, as I went the oil route in the recipe. But I found the oil recipes to be much more moist than the butter recipes, and no one likes dry cake. I did double up on the cupcake liners, and cooled them on a paper towel on top of my cooling rack. By the time I packaged them up they weren't greasy on the bottom at all. But do note that the cake its self wasn't oily to the taste, just moist and delicious!  The recipe I ended up using comes from Cake Man Raven. He was featured on a Throwdown episode and I found his recipe again on the blog The Way the Cookie Crumbles, who does a great comparison of other red velvet recipes. This recipe was by far the easiest to make, very simple and straight forward.
Hand frosted

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Yields 24 cupcakes
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

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar.  Beat on medium speed until well blended.  Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes.  Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.
(Note: I used a lot more frosting when I used the piping bag than when I hand frosted. You may want to double or make a batch and a half.)

Source: Cake Man Raven, adapted from Annies Eats, and The Way the Cookie Crumbles


  1. Those look scrumptious!I love the piped frosting.I think I'll give that a try. Glad you're back. :)

  2. Thanks ladies. The piping was fun, and super easy. My hand did get a cramp though!


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