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.
So there we have it, my second attempt at making Red Velvet cupcakes and all in all, I don’t think I did a bad job. You know what they say, practice makes perfect!
I look far too happy about this midnight cupcake feast…
Are there any recipes that you love using or struggle to get right? Do you have a better Red Velvet recipe that you use? Don’t forget to leave a comment below 🙂 x