06 March 2011

Less than Red Velvet Cupcakes

This is my first attempt making a red velvet anything, and only the second time I have ever tasted it. But for bakers February is Red Velvet month, you can't visit a baking site anywhere on the internet without seeing at least one red velvet recipe. I'm not complaining, especially after my experience with these cupcakes. Although I suppose I should address the “less than” red velvet thing. It's actually quite simple, I didn't have red food colouring and wasn't going to buy it since it doesn't affect the flavour.

Normally my dislike of frosting keeps me away from cupcakes. However, on this particular weekend my brother was on vacation for reading week and he loves them. Being the strange individual that he is he requested reading week “themed” baking. Since I was determined to make red velvet I have posthumously created a reading week reason for preparing this recipe. You see the red velvet is representative of Red Riding Hood's cloak and the fact that these are “less than” red velvet, is symbolic of the trickery attempted by the Big Bad Wolf. Not bad eh? Remember I have a degree in B.S-ing... err English. :).

Since this recipe is originally from Throwdown and I have never made red velvet before, I tried to restrain myself from altering it. Basically I just reduced the sugar and increased the vanilla and salt by a bit. Oh and I also left out the tablespoon of water, mostly because I forgot about it (though its addition seems to be related to the food colouring).

I decided to go with a cooked frosting instead of cream cheese since my brother (the other one) dislikes cream cheese. I owe this particular recipe to Anna from Cookie Madness who suggested it to me. She described it as reminiscent of the Hostess Cupcake filling, which I love (how can you not enjoy those :)?), so I was quite excited. I did increase the salt a touch, and halved the recipe since no matter how good a frosting is I still don't want a lot of it. In the end I only ended up using 2 tsp of icing per cupcake (so 24 tsp total) and there was about a tablespoon left over. However, if you would prefer a higher frosting to cupcake ratio then use the original values (or double mine :)).

I have always been under the impression the red velvet was just a red chocolate cake, but I have since learned that this is not the case. I now know (in large part to Anna and her Red Velvet comparisons) that red velvet is a flavour onto itself. You can taste a yellow cake in there, but thanks to the cocoa powder it's not quite yellow cake. Instead, it's red velvet :).

The cupcake's were nice and light, moist in the centre, and definitely not too sweet, but not under sweet either. It was perfect with the frosting, which has a very similar texture to the Hostess filling, but not quite as sweet. I can't honestly imagine a cream cheese frosting on these cupcakes. It would be too overpowering, too heavy, too rich. Maybe it was the sugar reduction, but these cupcakes seemed quite a bit more delicate then a cream cheese frosting would allow for. My only issue was that the outer edge of the cupcakes seemed a bit dry, but I suspect this is because I left them in the pan to cool for too long (ten minutes versus five).

I suppose these are not technically red velvet, and perhaps I should stop claiming them as such. In my defence the flavours were there which is really all that matters. Besides, a pound cake these days doesn't necessarily have a pound of each ingredient (as it should); a bundt cake doesn't necessarily have to be made in a bundt pan; and ask yourself this: when was the last time you actually spent the money to buy authentic angel food for your angel food cake? Think about it. :)


P.S. For those that care: I was back up (haha) and running Thursday night with a new (much larger) hard drive. Restoring my backup was stupid easy, why is Apple so great? :)

Less than Red Velvet Cupcakes

Adapted from Cookie Madness

Yields 12 standard cupcakes

1 2/3 cup all purpose flour (217g)
1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil -- I used a standard veg oil for flavouring, not a neutral one
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar (100g)
1 egg + 2 tbsp beaten egg, lightly beaten -- this is equivalent to 1 1/2 eggs
1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp vinegar -- the "secret ingredient" for Georgetown Cupcake's Red Velvet is apple cider vinegar, I used white
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
Too make these "true" red velvet:
1 tbsp + 1 tsp red food colouring
1 tbsp water


Adapted from Cookie Madness

Yields approx 1 1/2 cup of frosting

1 1/2 tbsp tablespoons flour (13g)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (113g)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a standard 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a medium bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt -- sifting is always a good idea when making cupcakes, but an even better idea when using cocoa powder since it tends to clump.

In the medium bowl of a stand mixer add oil, buttermilk and sugar and beat on medium until combined. Add egg and vanilla and continue to beat until completely incorporated (if you're using food colouring, add food colouring and water as well)

With a wooden spoon slowly fold dry ingredients into wet, being careful not to overmix.

Evenly distribute batter into prepared muffin pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (This took me 20 minutes)

Allow to cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes (not 10 like me :)) before removing from pan and allowing to cool completely.


In a small sauce pan add flour, salt and 1/4 cup of milk and mix until combined. Add remaining milk and salt, and turn burner to medium heat, whisking continuously until a paste is formed.

Remove from heat and allow to cool completely (stick in freezer for a few minutes to speed up the process)

In the small bowl of a mixer add butter and sugar and beat on medium until fluffy. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until light, fluffy and smooth (don't worry if it doesn't look like anything is happening, it takes a while and will at least double in volume when ready.)

Frost cupcakes once completely cooled.


  1. I just thought I would let you know that I'm loving the first photo of the cupcake. And the cupcakes taste good too!

  2. That cupcake is making me want something really sweet. It is gorgeous. I'm new to your blog and have just spent some time browsing through your earlier entries. I'm so glad I did. I really like the recipes you feature here. I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  3. Natasha, I'm glad you liked the picture :) and you know how much I suck at taking them so it means a lot :), although it seems I'm getting better, albeit I'm still lazy about it :).

    And Hi Mary! Thanks for posting, I'm a huge fan of your blog :) and have been reading for quite some time ( your oatmeal cake is my current favourite). I'm really glad you like my stuff enough to come back (I can't even get my parents to do that :)).