Friday, March 16, 2012

For the Love of Red Velvet Cupcakes

So much for trying to give up sugar - I've rediscovered a love for cupcakes. Finding cupcakes. Baking cupcakes. Eating cupcakes!

But not all cupcakes are created equal. There is this recent fantastic white chocolate cake, of course, and then there are these red velvet cupcakes. I did some concentrated research (ie. looked up wikipedia) to find out some more about these red miracles, and found that the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk is used to reveal the red colour in the cocoa, although red food colouring is also used to intensify the hue. Actually, I used rice wine vinegar because I didn't have any white vinegar, and the colour turned out brilliantly.

In terms of texture, these are not as fine as the white chocolate cupcakes, but the flavour is equally awesome, with a hint of cocoa shining through, and the cakes are super moist and moreish. And, of course, it's the red colour that is the star.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
makes 16

300g (2 cups) plain flour
30g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
315g (1 1/2 cups) caster sugar
250ml (1 cup) buttermilk
200g unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1 tbs white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4-5 tsp liquid red food colouring

Cream cheese frosting
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
300g (2 cups) pure icing (confectioner's) sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Line 80ml (1/3 cup) capacity muffin pans with paper cases.
2. Sift flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Stir through the sugar. Whisk the buttermilk, butter, eggs, vinegar and vanilla in a large jug until combined. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Add the buttermilk mixture. Stir until just combined. Stir in the food colouring.
3. Divide the mixture among the lined pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. For the frosting: Use an electric mixerto beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Spread over cooled cupcakes.

cupcake recipe from

Some ingredients, including plain flour, cocoa, bicarb soda, eggs and red food colouring

Look at the extreme red of the batter. It loses a little of its glow after baking, but it's still pretty vivid.
The traditional coating for red velvet cake is cream cheese frosting.

Add some sprinkles.
Makes you go "awwwwwww"

And it's deliciously moist as well.


  1. I've always wondered if other vinegars could be used....

    Red velvets are far and above my favorite kind of cake/cupcake! Love those cute heart sprinkles.

  2. You're right - cupcakes might be a fad, but red velvet never goes out of style. Yours look so retro and delicious the way you've iced them!

  3. What, no Henry & Tabitha update! Wah. I love the cream cheese frosting the most on Red Velvet delicious I could eat a whole bowl of it.

  4. That's a beauty! (LOL@MissPiggy) I was wondering about that too ;-)

  5. Lovely...I am in the mood for red, after the overwhelming greens from St. Patrick's...Thanks for sharing!

  6. I just saw these on Foodgawker and I love your pictures! I haven't had red velvet in years but this makes me want to go to the kitchen and whip some up right now. Your cupcakes are adorable. :)

  7. Yum I see red velvet cakes a lot on various blogs but have never had one myself.

    The giving up sugar thing...yeah. I went without grains and sugar for 3.5 weeks. It was ruined by a yum cha visit last week which involved dumplings and coconut jelly. You cannot say no to coconut jelly.

    And...baked goods with sugar and grains simply taste better than those without:( WHY?!?!

  8. I can never give up sugar or chocolate. As much as I would want it, I am totally addicted. These cupcakes have such a bright, intense color! They are amazing!

  9. I had no idea that the red (before the food colouring goes in) occurs because of buttermilk and vinegar! Gosh, these look so tempting and pretty :)

  10. ive tried making red velvet. always seem to fail. i need to try out your recipe. they look totally awesome.. good enuff for a present :)

  11. red velvet is my favvvvvvourite. Think I have to try your recipe! LOVE IT

  12. Oh, my!! That looks really delightful, and love the tiny hearts! Hope you are well!!

  13. So pretty! Loving the love hearts too :)

    I haven't had a red velvet in the longest time, I always get distracted by chocolate. Or vanilla. Or lemon meringue. Something tells me I'll not be distracted much longer!

  14. Just made some from your recipe! Very yummy thank you!

  15. Your cupcakes look delicious and cute. I have read that a pinch of salt should be added to sweets do you agree?

  16. Hi,

    I attempted to make red velvet cupcakes for the first time for Valentine's Day. I had prepared batter for 24 cupcakes. I added a whole bottle of liquid red food colouring but still my cupcakes were nowhere close to red. In fact, they almost looked like chocolate cupcakes. Could you let me know what possibly went wrong. I was really upset to see the final result. Look forward to a reply.

  17. hi Anonymous - that's such a shame that your cupcakes weren't red. I hope they at least tasted terrific? What sort of cocoa powder did you use? Light (milk) cocoa rather than dark cocoa is preferable. Then, make sure you use the correct amounts of buttermilk and vinegar, as the acidity will help bring out the red in the cocoa. Finally, maybe try gel food colouring next time, as I think it is more intense, although you shouldn't need more than a couple of teaspoonsful. Good luck!