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Friday 29 January 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

You'd be smiling too, if you were that close to a red velvet cupcake.

It may seem that I've come over all Valentine's and lovey-dovey, so I would just like to clarify up front that this is not the case. These are not Valentine's Day cupcakes, and nor will they be. Though you could make them for that, if you wanted. Or for any number of occasions. Voluntary Redundancy cupcakes perhaps?

No, these are belated birthday cupcakes. Lucy had her birthday last week, and you can't have a birthday without cake. It's the law.

Lucy likes red velvet. I know that sounds like the title of some smutty film, but it's true: she told me so. And if you can't have a bit of what you like on your (albeit belated) birthday, then when can you?

I stopped myself taking too many photos of
these - nobody wants to eat cupcakes that
have been messed about with!

I was going to make the recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, which Mr. Other P would have approved of - he loves red velvet too - but have been noticing a new name cropping up all over the Internet recently that seems to be synonymous with red velvet cake: Rose Levy Beranbaum.

I don't think you can help wanting to bake the cake recipe of someone with a name like that. And more to the point, my inner baker was desperate to give it a go based purely on the method, which is unusual, or seemed so to me.

I lifted the recipe from a website, but am so impressed with the results, and accuracy of the instructions - do what Rose tells you to and follow the times given, and there's no way you could mess this up, even if you'd never baked anything in your life other than potatoes - that I've ordered the book this recipe came from, Rose's Heavenly Cakes. Consider this my recommendation. I had to make a few ingredient substitutions though so this recipe is my amended one.

A final word, which you can ignore altogether if you want, but I suggest you don't. Go easy on the sprinkles and decorations. The beauty of red velvet is in the contrast between vibrant, crimson-red cake, and gleaming, fresh, white icing. Anything more than a light dusting of red harlequin sugar or hundreds and thousands, and your cupcakes will become little more than the edible personification of that friend you have who always has bad hair, and you never quite have the heart to be honest with. People will tell you they look beautiful, but they won't really mean it.

Do you want that for your cupcakes?

Red Velvet Cupcakes

You will need:

3 large egg whites
1/2 tsp red food coloring paste (or one whole bottle of liquid colouring)
seeds scraped from one vanilla pod (or 2 tsp vanilla essence, which I didn't have)
175g plain flour
25g cornflour
200g caster sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cocoa
60ml vegetable oil
55g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125ml plain natural yogurt (or 125ml buttermilk)

100g cream cheese
30g butter
400g icing sugar, sifted

red harlequin sugar or hundreds and thousands
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 12 bun cupcake tin with paper wrappers (you will actually get 15 cupcakes from this mixture, so may need to bake twice).
  2. In a mixing bowl, lightly mix together the egg whites, vanilla seeds (or essence) and red colouring. You will be amazed and/or horrified at the colour.
  3. Sift the flour, cornflour, sugar, cocoa and baking powder into another bowl. I know that most recipes would say to cream the sugar with the butter, not sift it with the flour, but trust Rose. She knows. (That's what we used to say about my Japanese grammar teacher too - people called Rose are obviously very knowledgeable and trustworthy)
  4. Using an electric hand mixer, in a large bowl, beat the butter and oil together for one minute on medium speed.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and yogurt to the butter mixture, and mix together on low speed. Then, when combined, switch to high speed and mix for one and a half minutes. You should scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.
  6. Add half of the bloodied egg whites. Mix on medium speed for thirty seconds, and then add the rest of the egg mixture. Mix on medium speed for another thirty seconds.
  7. Transfer the batter to the line cupcakes tins, filling each about three quarters full. Bake for twenty minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a wire rack.
  9. Make the icing: mix the softened butter with the cream cheese, then add the sugar. You might not need it all - stop at the consistency you like. I like it thick and shiny, so add it all.
  10. Use the icing to frost the cakes - a palate knife makes pretty swirls.
  11. Sprinkle cautiously, and share.


  1. Hey, thanks for visiting my blog :) That last paragraph - hilarious. I never have the heart to tell my friends when they look terrible. I also never have the heart to tell myself "hey self, your outfit is riciculous."

    Your cupcakes are so beautiful because they aren't trying too hard. I love that.

    ps: Rose is the baking authority! I have been eyeing her new book.

  2. I love red velvet! And cupcakes! Oh, be still, my heart! =)

    That fork is waaay too cute!

  3. Love red velvet cakes! :D These look fantastic Mr P!

  4. How pretty is that and how prettys is this little desert fork!! :)

  5. These look so devine.Nice click.

  6. Hey there, I have an award waiting for you on my blog :)

  7. bravo MrP your cupcakes looks scrumptious
    Chers from Paris Pierre

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. 'Lucy likes red velvet' is an understatement. I've never put anything more delicious into my mouth.

  10. Gorgeous!! You are right right right about the simplicity and beauty of the red velvet cupcake!

    Be blessed-

  11. Pete

    I can't tell how much I love Red Velvet. Ate them just warm at the Hummingbird Bakery recently. Currently debating whether to bake them in my new silicon heart moulds. Too much?

  12. I have recently acquired some all natural food coloring, which leaves a bit to be desired in the potency department. However, for the price I paid, I'm not sure I can give up a whole bottle to these cupcakes. I am dying to make them, though, so I think I'll just have to call them pink velvet cupcakes and get over it! Thanks for sharing and for your personal observations on the process. I'm looking forward to trying it.

    Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.


  13. Erika - I love your blog! I wish I hadn't written that last bit though, because I have friends who read this and they might think it's about them. Which it isn't. Honest. :0

    Judy - Thing is, you are still schooling me, because yours has CHEESECAKE in the middle.

    Lorraine - Why thank you! :) I like to think these are just as pretty as what you'd get in Cupcakes on Pitt (trust me to stay on Pitt St. in Sydney!).

    Julia - The fork was a gift; I have two. But I can only use them when it's just me and someone else, otherwise I have to let my guests use them and get jealous. MY FORK!

    Simplyfood - Thank you!

    Ms. Humble - You know why he's smiling, because you made this cake too!

    Sanjana!! I am TOTALLY fessing up to 10 things. I just need to think about what. :)

    Pierre - Merci! I'm FINALLY getting back to Paris this month. It's been too long!

    Aquagirl - I'm sorry we had to eat the extra one in the car. If Perce had packed bananas as well as the sandwiches, we wouldn't have been so hungry. I am not responsible.

    Amanda - Thank you! I think the real reason everyone likes them so much is because of the buzz you get from the red colouring. We were ALL hyperactive afterwards.

    Crumpet - Just warm? Wow. Only thing about Hummingbird - too much frosting. But I've only had their sliced cakes, so I can't really speak with authority on the cupcakes. Maybe they could send me some just warm ones to sample and see how I feel?

    Casey - I was just looking at your site earlier. I would be a great case study, trust me. :)

  14. Yes, definitely too much frosting!

  15. Rose Levy is fantastic isn't she?

    I have the Heavenly book based on a recommendation from a man in a bookstore in Hawaii whilst on holidays! he said - "well my wife has this book and nothing has failed". That was good enough for me. I was a little put off at first by all the rules but to be honest - they are what you need.

    Try the whipped cream cake - I promise you you won't be disappointed!

  16. I need to make me a batch of these!

  17. Just beautiful! Lucy's a lucky girl!

  18. They look divine! I think i have a project for this weekend since i am rained in, thanks!

  19. i have always wanted to make and eat red velvet cupcakes but have never gotten down to it. maybe it is time. your red velvet cupcakes looks gorgeous:0

  20. Mr P they looked so good I had to try them. Your recipe is delicious. I made some for my sister's birthday and now my niece has asked me to make some for hers too.

    Everyone thinks they are great

  21. Nightwyrm - I'm so glad! And you've started blogging too. :)

  22. I have started blogging, you have inspired me. Here is my page showing my purple version of your wonderful recipe
    They are very decorated though :)

  23. These look so delicious! I have that book already, so I think it's decided that these must be made, and soon :).


That's what he said.

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