A couple of years ago, I started an official committee at work to help me test out cupcake recipes in advance of our wedding. The experiment was so popular that peer pressure led me to bring it back again, though in a more cooperative fashion, early last year. Now that I am back at work in St. John’s after my research stint in Ottawa, it is my turn to bake for the Cupcake Committee. What better comeback cupcake than red velvet?
Now, the reason the red velvet cake is red is very interesting. Crucial ingredients in this batter include white vinegar and buttermilk. The acid in these ingredients reacts with the anthocyanin that is naturally found in cocoa, creating a lovely red tint (anthocyanin, by the way, is the same stuff that makes leaves turn red in the autumn).
Modern cocoa, usually Dutch processed, is much more alkaline than its predecessors, and reacts less with the acid, so contemporary bakers generally adjust the tint of their red velvet cakes with beets or food colouring. While beets would help to retain moisture in the cake, I have opted to use food colouring instead, because I believe beets taste like dirt, and I don’t want a cake that tastes like dirt. If you want dirt, go eat dirt. Or a beet.
This recipe is cobbled together from a bunch of different sources. I hope you enjoy it. It makes about 2 dozen large cupcakes. Because the batter can stain, I recommend you make the kiddies wait to help until the frosting stage.
Reduce the speed of your mixture to low. Grab 1 cup buttermilk. Add in your flour mix in three separate additions, alternating with two additions of buttermilk. Whisk well after each and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Divide the batter among the lined cups, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cupcake comes out clean, which for me was around 25 minutes.
I’m sure you’re still waiting around for the cupcakes at this point, so why not cream together 1 cup softened butter with 2 cups room temperature cream cheese? Slowly mix in 4-5 cups icing sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and there you have your cream cheese icing.
Now that your cupcakes are cool, insert a toothpick into the centre of each one, going about halfway down, and wiggle it around. Try not to make the hole at the top too large, but wiggle the toothpick enough so you get a wee cavity in the centre of the cupcake.
Sprinkle each cupcake with red sugar. You can dye sugar yourself by adding a few drops of food colouring to a sealed bag of granulated sugar and shaking it around, or you can just buy it. In this case I had some on-hand already. Clever me.Then make sure to share them with all your friends!