Before I begin, I did some research into copyright laws about me posting recipes/methods from cookbooks (I don’t really fancy getting into trouble!) – from what I have read and have understood on a common sense basis, it’s ok for me to write about the recipe/method as long as I don’t copy the cookbook word for word. Additionally, I will always make a mention of where the original recipe came from (with links if I can find them) as I have done so below.
Red Velvet is one of those classic cake recipes that I’ve always wanted to try making. The recipe I used was from The Hummingbird Bakery‘s Cake Days cookbook. What I like about this cookbook is that the quantities are for muffin-sized cakes rather than cupcakes (which are smaller) – so essentially these recipes allowed me to make bigger cakes, which is always a good thing!
This is actually my second attempt at making Red Velvet; the first time I made a cake and it didn’t go as planned. After using 40ml of red food colouring (which is more or a less a whole bottle) into my cake batter, after adding the cocoa powder, I found that it totally ruined the brilliant red colour I managed to achieve in my batter and it turned it…well, brown! So that really disappointed me.
This time, I stuck to making cupcakes. I made a few changes here and there as I went along due to how the first attempt turned out, but also because I am one of those people who will taste as they cook – if something doesn’t taste, smell or look right to me (regardless of what a recipe/method tells me) then I will use my initiative and change it up a little.
120g (4oz) unsalted butter, softened
300g (10 1/2oz) caster sugar
2 large eggs
20g (3/4oz) cocoa powder
40ml (1 1/2fl oz) red food colouring
1tsp vanilla essence
300g (10 1/2oz) plain flour
240ml (8 1/2fl oz) buttermilk
1tbsp white wine vinegar
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g (3 1/2oz) unsalted butter, softened
600g (1lb 5oz) icing sugar
250g (9oz) full-fat cream cheese
Coloured sprinkles to decorate (optional)
I won’t be mentioning any specific brand of ingredient as it will feel like I’m favouring; I just used whatever I had in the house! On another note, there must be some kind of nation-wide shortage on red food colouring these days as I must have gone to five different shops and they had diddly-squat! Eventually I did end up finding some food colour gel which was labelled ‘bright red’ – it was the only choice I had so I went for it!
Often, most recipes require you to preheat the oven right at the beginning but I waited until a little later to do that as we recently got a new cooker and as the ovens are fan-assisted they work quite quickly. I like to start off by weighing out all my ingredients so I have them ready and I also lined a muffin tin with muffin cases.
- With a hand-held electric whisk I creamed the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. I cut the butter into small cubes to help the process along a little quicker.
- I then added one egg at a time and mixed it thoroughly, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
Here is where I start to make a few changes to the method:
- I added 1tsp of vanilla essence to the cake batter and mixed it in well.
- I added the red food colour straight into the batter and kept mixing until I achieved the right colour – however I was a little disappointed with the result, I think it turned the cake batter more pink than red.
- Here is where I added a very small pinch of cocoa powder to the cake batter to help deepen the red colour.
- I sifted the flour and salt into a separate bowl; I then added half of the flour/salt to the cake batter and folded it in with a spatula (I was too scared to use the electric whisk for fear of covering the kitchen in flour).
- I poured in half of the buttermilk to the cake batter and mixed it well.
- I added the other half of the flour/salt mix to the cake batter and made sure to fold it in well.
- Finally I added the rest of the buttermilk to the mixture and mixed that in (the buttermilk I bought was 250ml, which I used it all rather than leave a measly 10ml behind).
As I don’t imbibe in alcohol I am always looking for ways to substitute alcohol ingredients for non-alcoholic ones and sometimes it proves a little difficult. This recipe calls for white wine vinegar (of which I didn’t have) and I spent hours trawling the web for a suitable substitute and in the end I settled for using white vinegar instead.
- Finally, in another bowl I mixed together the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda but I also added about 1/2tsp of sugar to the mixture to combat the very sour taste a little. I then added this mixture to the cake batter and made sure to incorporate it all.
Because I have a fan-assisted oven, I actually lowered the temperature to 170 degrees celsius rather than 190 degrees celsius.
- While the oven preheated, I spooned the cake batter into the muffin cases in the muffin tray using two spoons (or you could use an ice-cream scoop) until they were two-thirds full. I then popped them into the oven and after 20 minutes they were done.
After letting them cool in the tin I transferred the cakes onto a wire rack to cool while I made the frosting.
- Using the electric whisk I beat together the butter with only 200g of the icing sugar as I didn’t want my frosting too sweet (this is an American style recipe after all) until the mixture was sandy.
- I then added the cream cheese and mixed it slowly until it was incorporated into the mixture well enough before I increased the speed on the whisk and beat the frosting until it became soft and fluffy.
- Once the cupcakes had completely cooled, I added the frosting to all but one and swirled it with the back of a spoon, until it achieved the desired effect I wanted.
- With the last remaining un-frosted cupcake, I popped it into the food processor and blitzed it into crumbs (alternatively you can do this by hand) and then sprinkled them over my frosted cupcakes as decoration.
I look far too happy about this midnight cupcake feast…