Friday, July 31, 2009

Cooking With Sara: Red Velvet Cupcakes

You knew it was only a matter of time before I'd revert back to my cake-baking ways. But one out of my three Cooking With entries dedicated to a baked good - those aren't terrible odds. I promise, I really have tried to refrain from baking entries in the name of being more creative and testing out "real" food recipes (I'd argue that cake is, indeed, real food). But, hey I've got a deadline looming with some Sarandipity orders, and I need to test out a cake recipe. So here we are.

I've tried some Red Velvet recipes in the past, but I've never been too pleased with the results. It just seemed so "meh" tasting after all that flashy red color and white frosting contrast. All pretty and no tasty. Like, all beauty and no brains. We certainly can't have any of that here, so I continued my search for a recipe that looked promising. And with a photo like this, how could the results be anything other an amaazzzzingggggg? I mean seriously, who here didn't try to lick their monitors when presented with that beautiful photo of cake heaven? So, I tried out Pinch My Salt's recipe and, as always, made a few modifications of my own.

In summary, I'm not terribly fond of this recipe either. As Bo put it, "it just isn't velvety." And he's dead right. The texture isn't dense and moist and well, velvety. And I had the same luck with cream cheese frosting that I always seem to have - as is, the recipe turns out soupy. I increased the powdered sugar from 2 1/2 cups to nearly 8. Yes, 8 cups of powdered sugar. I modified the recipe below to remove half the cream cheese, so that should help. The quest continues...

Red Velvet Cake (a.k.a. Waldorf Astoria Cake)
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 oz. red food coloring
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with 24 papers. (This recipe yielded 23 cupcakes for me.)

2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a soupy mixture without lumps; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa mixture, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

4. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Yes, it will fizz! Add it to the cake batter and stir well to combine. (The batter will almost look puffy.) Working quickly, divide batter evenly between the cupcake pans using your trusty cookie scoop, and place them in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Check early, cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and allow cakes to cool completely before frosting. Frost with buttercream or cream cheese icing (recipe below).

* Recipe Notes: Sift cake flour once before measuring, then sift again with the other dry ingredients per recipe instructions.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese (1 packages), softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

With an electric mixer, blend together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in salt and vanilla until combined. Turn mixer to low speed and blend in powdered sugar, 1/3 at a time, scraping sides of bowl between each addition. Turn mixer on high and beat until light and fluffy. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. If refrigerated, the frosting will need to be brought to room temperature before using.


  1. Well they may not taste the way you wanted them to but they sure are cute! My frosting never looks like that...

  2. I know what you mean about Red Velvet Cake. I've tried sooooo many recipes and I have yet to find the right one...