Sunday, March 15, 2009

Red Velvet Cupcakes

A dear friend of mine asked me to bake up a batch of red velvet cupcakes for her baby shower last month. How could I say no?

The first time I baked red velvet cupcakes, I brought them into work and my naturopath co-worker asked me if I used beets to color the batter red.

I looked at him in confusion, "what? Beets?"

He looked at me just as shocked and asked, "what? Chemicals?"

Interestingly, the week before I was to bake these cupcakes Martha featured a pastry chef who made a beet-chocolate cake on the show, and a few days later Raiuchka left me a comment telling me she and her son made beet-velvet cupcakes for Valentines Day.

Okay Universe, I get it. I'LL TRY THE BEETS.

But not just yet.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

February 15, 2009
Name of cupcake: Red Velvet Cupcakes
Occasion: Baby shower!
Constituents: Red Velvet Cupcakes (chemically colored) with (chemically colored) cream cheese frosting and (chemically colored) sprinkles

The recipe I use for red velvet cupcakes comes from someplace on the internet. I heard that RLB's new cake book will have a red velvet recipe and I am pretty curious to see if she calls for beets or chemicals. Either way, I'm sure it will be delicious.

This recipe is pretty darn good, too. The cake is light and springy, moist and faintly chocolate, just like a red velvet cake ought to be. There are a few extra steps when making red velvet cake but all in all the mixing and baking are fairly smooth and quick. And tasty.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

The colors for the baby shower were pink and green, so I tinted the cream cheese frosting pink and green to match. I also decided to try and fancy up the cupcakes by piping on the frosting. Now, unlike smart people who would practice piping before actually doing it on the real cupcakes, of which there was only one to spare, I dove right in and taught myself how to pipe icing on the actual cupcakes I would be serving. I think I have a sort of naive arrogance about my ability to learn new skills, but don't tell anyone I said that.

Of course, the piping job was passable--maybe even a little comical--but nobody pointed and laughed or shamed me for my frosting problems, so everything came out all right in the end.

Everything also came out quite red--fingers, mouths, you name it. Gotta love those chemicals.

Red Velvet Cake, pilfered from somewhere on the Internet

From Catperson:
I have a wonderful recipe from my Aunt Mildred in Florida... I have not thought much about this cake that I just ADORED as a child!*
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 TBSP (heaping) cocoa
  • 2 1/4 c of cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 ounces (1/4 c) red food coloring
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs. Make a paste of food coloring and cocoa and add to the creamed mixture. Add alternate buttermilk with flour and salt, then add the vanilla. Add soda to the vinegar.
HOLD OVER THE BOWL, AS IT FOAMS! Then add the soda and vinegar to the mixture, blending instead of beating. Bake 25 to 30 mins. at 350 degrees in two 8-inch greased and floured round cake pans. Cool on racks. Using very sharp knife, or dental floss (yes, dental floss!) split each layer into 2 layers.

*From ECL: Thanks Catperson and Aunt Mildred!

PS--the baby has since been born and mom and babe are doing well!


  1. Wow, I had no idea that it took so much dye to color a red velvet cake! I"m with you, though. I'd do the chemical version before the beet version, unless I've heard from a reputable source exactly how good the beet version is. We'll see what Rose says!

  2. Anonymous16/3/09 16:55

    That is the reddest red velvet cake I have ever seen. Ever. I'm a little scared of the chemicals, too, but it's kind of hard to "beet" a red cake:)

  3. I've never really understood the attraction of red velvet cake, but I'm looking at your cupcakes and thinking, oh, maybe I get it after all. I like your frosting!

  4. Amanda, I think you could probably get away with just one bottle of red food coloring! Can't wait to get Rose's opinion!

    Onlinepastrychef, I know--the red is And we were all red after eating the cupcakes! And nice pun.

    BBC, I think red velvet's attraction lies in the color, not so much the flavor. The light chocolaty flavor is nice, but not that cool. Thanks for liking my frosting!!

  5. Dear Sweet ECL, I am not a fan of red velvet cake, so will not say I think it is lovely. However, I do like how you decorated them. They look lovely!

  6. LOL!! "what, beets?" "what, chemicals?" LOL some more! :-) I got a shout-out! The cupcakes look totally adorable; I think you did a great job with the icing.

  7. LOL!! On the beets. I am sure it could be interesting to make it that way. But the chemical way works for me. Your cupcakes look yummy! I love how red they turned out though. I will have to try your frosting it does sound great.. I posted the Cheesecake Strawberries. I forgot to take a picture of one stuffed and dipped and cut open. But I did get pictures step by step.

  8. Melinda, that's okay that you're not a fan of red velvet cake. You say red velvet, I say fresh ginger!

    Raiuchka, you did get a shout out, but I just realised I didn't link to your blog! Sorry, I will change that. Thanks for liking my icing.

    Laurie, the cheesecake strawberries are such a great idea. I'm going to have to find an excuse to make them!

  9. You know, I have a chocolate cake recipe (not from RLB) that calls for beets. I don't know that it makes the cake as red as yours, but I will let you know when I try it. I've heard it's a pretty good cake.