To celebrate her birthday, my friend Steph is travelling to Charleston, South Carolina for a long weekend. To go along with her trip, I baked her a Southern-inspired dessert: red velvet cupcakes. The New York Times recently published a piece about red velvet. Red velvet’s resurgence brought on a wave of nostalgia and obsession, making it a ubiquitous flavour in bakeries. Red velvet cupcakes are softly flavoured. There’s a bit of cocoa powder in the batter, but it’s not a chocolate cupcake. They are tangy due to the cream cheese and buttermilk. I used food colouring, but other red velvet recipes call on beets instead for the red hue.
I sourced this recipe for an American classic in a British bakery cookbook of all places. These red velvet cupcakes are The Hummingbird Bakery’s bestselling flavour. If you wish to bake a three-layer cake (using 8-inch round cake pans) instead of cupcakes, simply double the quantities of the ingredients list. If you’d like to decorate the cupcakes, leave one cupcake without frosting. Place that cupcake in the food processor and blitz into fine crumbs. Sprinkle these red crumbs on top of the frosted cupcakes as a finishing touch.
Recipe Source: Cake Days by The Hummingbird Bakery
Yields 12-16 cupcakes (I made 18)
120 grams unsalted butter, softened
300 grams granulated sugar
20 grams cocoa powder
40 ml red food colouring
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
300 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
240 ml buttermilk
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
100 grams unsalted butter, softened
600 grams icing sugar
250 grams cream cheese
1) Preheat the oven to 375F.
2) Place paper liners in cupcake pans.
3) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
4) Add the eggs one at a time.
5) In a separate, small bowl, mix the cocoa powder with the vanilla and food colouring to make a paste.
6) Add the paste to the batter, mixing until incorporated.
7) In a separate bowl, sift the flour and salt together.
8) Add the flour mixture to the batter in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk.
9) In another bowl, mix the vinegar and baking soda together by hand.
10) Pour the vinegar mixture into the batter and mix until incorporated.
11) Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake pans.
12) Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.
13) Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool for a short while.
14) Remove the cupcakes from the pans and let them cool completely on the wire racks.
1) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and icing sugar together on low speed until you reach a sandy texture and there are no more large lumps of butter.
2) Add the cream cheese, mixing on low speed until incorporated.
3) Increase the speed to medium and beat the frosting until it is fluffy.