Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Red Velvet Cupcakes

So I found the red velvet cupcake recipe I was after and made them for my birthday picnic this weekend - a hot, happy picnic on The Beaumont's wine farm, followed by a swim in their dam. They were a success and some of the most delicious I've tasted, if I say so – a real "showstopper" as my boyfriend's mom called them. I'll definitely be making them again.

Some red velevet history...
Most recipes nowadays use red food coloring, but the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to better reveal the red "anthocyanin" in the cocoa. Before more alkaline, processed cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name "Red Velvet" or "Devils Food" as it's also known. When foods were rationed during World War II, bakers used boiled beetroots to enhance the colour of their cakes. Boiled grated beetroots or beetroot baby food are found in some red velvet cake recipes.

*Recipe notes:
This is supposed The Magnolia Bakery cupcake recipe. It said it made 36, but I got 28 good-sized cupcakes out. You could probably stretch it to 30. I adapted the recipe slightly, as the traditionally "frosting" is made with cream cheese, but I made a plain butter icing, which was enjoyed and complimented the sponge.

  • 3 ⅓ cups cake flour (It says, "not self-rising" but that's all I had and they worked out okay!)
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened (I couldn't find unsalted butter, so I just put less salt in.)
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar (I used castor sugar.)
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons red food coloring (The recipe calls for 6 tablespoons! Thankfully I ran out at round about 4, because I can't imagine how red they would have turned out!)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • 1½ teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda (bicarb)
How to make:
  • Preheat oven to 200ÂșC.
  • In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • In another small or jug, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.
  • In a measuring jug, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overheat.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.
  • Divide the batter into a greased muffin try filled with cupcake cases. Bake each tray for 20 minutes. Remove from the pans when they've stood for a bit, then cool completely on a wire rack.
(Original recipe courtesy of
Butter Icing*
  • 150g butter, softened
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp hot water
How to make:
  • Put the butter and icing sugar in a bowl and beat well. Add the vanilla extract, plus enough hot water to make a smooth consistency.
*Should make enough to cover 12 cupcakes. It's better to make smaller batches of icing – too much butter turns the icing yellow, rather than the white you're after.


  1. They were deeeeelicious! Definitely going to make them.

  2. What a delicious looking cupcake. I have a weekly sweet treat linky party on my blog called "Sweets for a Saturday" and I'd like to invite you to stop by this weekend and link your cupcake up.

  3. Sounds great, Lisa. I'd love to! How do we set it up?

  4. The cupcakes look amazing! My sister and I are planning to make a Red Velvet Cake next weekend.

  5. It would go yellow anyway because we only get yellow butter, the trick is to beat it hard and fast for a while so the air you incorporate turns it white :)

  6. That's exactly what I found with the butter! Thanks for the tip, LadyRaven! Hope the baking went well, Sunnyday&Starrynights.

  7. I love cupcakes but ive never attempted to make them myself and i was especially curious about the red velvet cupcake, well glad to say I'll be making some this friday. Thank you for the recipe, happy baking!

  8. So glad you found some inspiration, Thulz! Hope the baking went well. Look forward to hearing from you again.