Cupcakes for the People, Part 2

July 13th, 2009  |  26 Comments

red-velvet-cupcake-final

Until you’ve seen your first Red Velvet Cake, odds are you’ve never seen a red cake before. “What’s up with that red cake?” you may ask yourself. “Why, OH WHY, is that cake so red?” You stare at it for a few beats, like a coin some trickster pulled from behind your ear, hoping the it will reveal itself. What IS this witchery?

When I first asked someone to spill the secret about the color, I expected some exotic tale about mad grandmas hunched over their bowls with an eye dropper, adding special elf’s blood that could only be procured after midnight, or tribes on trekking expeditions through African wilderness harvesting red petals off some rare vine. Imagine my disappointment when I was told that it was nothing more than food coloring. A plain ol’ yellow cake with food coloring. Sigh.

Still, everyone gets all giddy and nostalgic with the Red Velvet, especially when a diminutive cupcake version makes its way to the table. The frosting is a strange preparation, containing flour which gets cooked in milk. It IS the traditional, old-fashioned way and the result is undeniably worth it. The stuff is so airy and pillowy, it pretty much upstages the cake.

The cake itself is a simple butter cake with a touch of cocoa powder, lending to the complexity of flavor, but because of its unnatural color, perhaps you can tell yourself that there’s so much more to it.


Don’t forget to read Part 1 of Cupcakes for the People, where Maple Blueberry Cupcakes get their day in the sun. Literally.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
makes about 24
adapted from
epicurious.com, who got it from More From Magnolia: Recipes From The World-Famous Bakery and Magnolia’s Home Kitchen

  • Cupcakes
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons red food coloring (I used a teeny .3-oz bottle, maybe about 2 tablespoons, and it worked fine)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Frosting
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Ingredients, all together.

red_velvet_cupcakes

 

2. Prepare your cute-as-all-get-out muffin liners.

red-velvet-cupcakes-liners

 

3. Throw the butter and sugar into your mixing bowl, and beat on high speed until pale, creamy, and fluffy.

red_velvet_cupcakes-sugar-butter

 

red_velvet_cupcakes-sugar-butter-creamed

 

4. Add eggs one at a time, and incorporate fully before adding the next.

red_velvet_cupcakes-add-eggs

 

When the eggs are in, the batter looks somewhat curdled, and that’s ok. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl for better incorporation.

red_velvet-cupcakes-eggs-in

 

5. Get your sunglasses out, then add the food coloring. And the cocoa powder and the vanilla extract. Oh, nelly!

red-velvet-cupcakes-add-color

 

6. In a bowl, stir together the flour and salt.

red-velvet-cupcakes-dry

 

7. ALTERNATE adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk into the bowl on SLOW speed. Do this in 3 additions, eyeballing the amounts. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just as long as it all ends up in the bowl.

Here’s some buttermilk…

red-velvet-add-milk

 

…then some flour…

red-velvet-cupcakes-add-dry

 

…partially mixed in before adding more buttermilk, etc.

red-velvet-cupcakes-dry-more

 

Here’s the batter so far with all the buttermilk and flour added. It doesn’t matter if every last speck is in right now, since you’re going to add a couple more things in there allowing opportunity to stir again.

red-velvet-cupcake-batter

 

8. Take the vinegar and pour it into the baking soda. It’s like Chem 101 with all that fizzing.

red-velvet-cupcakes-vinegar

 

red-velvet-vinegar-added

 

Quickly, add it to your batter, and fold it in, grabbing all the stray flour around the edges at the same time.

red-velvet-vinegar-to-batter

 

9. Spoon enough batter into the cupcake liners to fill ‘em 2/3 of the way.

red-velvet-cupcakes-fill-liners

 

10. Bake in your preheated 350°F oven for about 20 minutes. After 18 minutes I start poking them in the center with a toothpick. If there’s still wet batter clinging on, I keep baking in 3-4 minute intervals. As soon as the toothpick comes out clean, I remove the cupcakes.

red-velvet-cupcakes-in-oven

 

Freaky red cupcakes. Let cool COMPLETELY, and I do mean completely, so the frosting doesn’t slip off.

red-velvet-add-baked

 

For Frosting

1. Lovely ingredients.

red-velvet-cupcake-frosting-ingredients

 

I keep forgetting to add vanilla into my ingredient shot but vanilla cannot be forgotten.

red-velvet-frosting-vanilla-extract

 

2. Pour the milk into a saucepan and sprinkle in the flour. The flour will dissolve easily in cold milk.

red-velvet-frosting-add-flour

 

3. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Keep cooking until thickened, and bubbly and gurgley. It took me about 7 minutes.

red-velvet-frosting-thickened

 

red-velvet-frosting-bubbly

 

4. Scrape it into a dish for fast cooling. You want it come to room temperature.

red-velvet-frosting-cooling

 

Put a piece of plastic wrap directly on its surface to prevent a skin from forming.

red-velvet-frosting-cooling-with-plastic

 

5. Meanwhile dump your butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat on high speed until fluffy and creamy.

red-velvet-frosting-butter-chunks

 

red-velvet-whip-butter

 

6. Add the sugar and beat on high for a couple more minutes. It will be pale, light, creamy and airy. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

red-velvet-frosting-scrape-bowl

 

7. Add vanilla extract and mix in.

red-velvet-frosting-add-vanilla

 

8. Add the cooled flour/milk blob, shown here in the circle (…it creeps and leaps…). It really is a blob, having gelled up as it cooled. (If yours is watery, you didn’t cook it on the stove long enough. You can return it to the saucepan, and keep cooking it.)

red-velvet-frosting-add-flour-blob

 

9. Whip the whole shebang on high for 5 minutes. It will be snowy white, and almost like marshmallow fluff. Very pillowy and dreamy.

red-velvet-frosting-whipped

 

Here is how it looks before I shovel some into the maw.

red-velvet-frosting-close-up

 

10. This needs to be refrigerated for about 15 minutes before using. You can simply leave it in the bowl you used for whipping, or box it up, like so.

red-velvet-frosting-in-tubs

 

11. Try not to faint as you frost.

red-velvet-cupcakes-getting-frosted

Red Velvet Cupcakes
makes about 24
adapted from epicurious.com, who got it from More From Magnolia: Recipes From The World-Famous Bakery and Magnolia’s Home Kitchen





Cupcakes
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
6 tablespoons red food coloring (I used a teeny .3-oz bottle, maybe about 2 tablespoons, and it worked fine)
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Frosting
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the muffin tins with cupcake liners.
2. Beat the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl on high speed until pale, creamy, and fluffy. 
3. Add eggs one at a time, and incorporate fully before adding the next. 
4. Add the food coloring. And the cocoa powder and the vanilla extract. 
5. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and salt.
6. ALTERNATE adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk into the red batter on SLOW speed. Do this in 3 additions, eyeballing the amounts. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just as long as it all ends up in the bowl. 
7. Take the vinegar and pour it into the baking soda. There will be lots of fizzing.
8. Quickly, pour it to your batter, and fold it in.
9. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners. Fill them 2/3 of the way.  
10. Bake in your preheated 350°F oven for about 20 minutes. After 18 minutes I start poking them in the center with a toothpick. If there’s still wet batter clinging on, I keep baking in 3 minute intervals. As soon as the toothpick comes out clean, remove the cupcakes. Let cool completely.

For the frosting:
1. Whisk the milk into a saucepan and sprinkle in the flour. The flour will dissolve easily in cold milk.
2. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Keep cooking until thickened and bubbly and gurgley. It took me about 7 minutes. 
3. Scrape it into a dish for fast cooling. You want it come to room temperature. Put a piece of plastic wrap directly on its surface to prevent a skin from forming.
4. Meanwhile beat your butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on high speed until fluffy and creamy. 
5. Add the sugar and beat on high for a couple more minutes. It will be pale, light, creamy and airy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. 
6. Stir in vanilla extract.
7. Add the cooled flour/milk mixcture. You’ll notice it firmed up considerably up as it cooled. (If yours is watery, you didn’t cook it on the stove long enough. You can return it to the saucepan, and keep cooking it.)
8. Whip everything on high for 5 minutes. It will be snowy white, and almost like marshmallow fluff. Very pillowy. 
9. This needs to be refrigerated for about 15 minutes before using. You can simply leave it in the bowl you used for whipping, or scrape into storage containers.
10. Frost the cupcakes!






26 Responses to “Cupcakes for the People, Part 2”

  1. I want to see you putting that frosting into your mouth. add your shot after #10

  2. justine says:

    These look absolutely delectable!

  3. Jenny says:

    Thank you so much for the beautiful website and the step by step instructions .I love to bake but am learning so much from your site thank you

  4. Kiah says:

    Love your website .. everything always looks so elegant and delicious. I just have one question. I am partial to cream cheese frosting with my red velvet cupcakes. Would substituting that for some of the butter compromise some of that fluffiness in this recipe?

  5. PastryPal says:

    Hi Kiah, Thank you!
    If you like cream cheese frosting, I suggest you forget this frosting recipe all together. It’s a whole different animal. Try the cream cheese frosting that goes with this carrot cake. You’ll appreciate how easy it is, too.

    If you still want to experiment with the frosting with these cupcakes, try replacing 2 stick of butter with 12 oz of cream cheese. Cream the butter first until very smooth, then add the cream cheese, and mix until very smooth, then proceed with the rest of the recipe. Maybe it will be fluffy, but the flavor will be somewhat diluted. And since I haven’t tested it myself it would be up to you to let us know if it worked! :)

  6. Monica Tangry says:

    Great website – great pics! In the white frosting, can I substitute half Crisco instead of butter. I live in a humid climate and am wondering if the shortening might help the frosting hold up better? Thanks! :)

  7. PastryPal says:

    Hi Monica — Thanks! I suppose you could substitute half shortening, but I’m not a fan of it because it’s too chemically and doesn’t compare to butter’s flavor. I made these on a hot July day, and they even sat outside for a while and they were fine. You can keep the frosting in the fridge and the cupcakes covered, at room temperature. Take the frosting out to soften up at room temperature an hour before you want frost. After that, they can probably hang on for another hour or two.

  8. BakingNovice says:

    Thanks for the great website! I’m such a novice I don’t even know how to use my KitchenAid mixer. It wasn’t until I looked REALLY CLOSELY to your pictures that I realized I’ve been using the wrong attachment! Thankfully once I switched it, the cupcakes came out really nice. Please keep blogging!

  9. BakingNovice says:

    p.s. How long can the frosting last? I had way more frosting leftover vs cupcake so thought I’d make another batch of cupcakes. Is there anyway to revive the frosting once its been in the fridge for a day or two (in tupperware)?

  10. PastryPal says:

    BakingNovice — The frosting can keep in the fridge for a few days. The butter in the frosting will make it cold, hard and crumbly, so it needs to come back to a spreadable consistency. Take your frosting out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature about an hour before you plan to frost. It should be as good as new.

  11. Jessica says:

    Hello!
    This looking wonderful! I am going to be trying this recipe tomorrow (I had it all planed out for today, however due to a sporadic visitor i am unable to!) Your website is wonderful, and helpful! thank you so much!

  12. Tracy says:

    this was so amazing! i did this recipe for my cake project (great expectations) for english and it turned out soooo gooooood. :D
    thank you and you’re a very talented cooker!

    i’ll be sure to visit your site as much as possible ♥

  13. Phoebe says:

    I adore fluffy frostings and this looks amazing!

  14. windy says:

    thanks a million. the cupcake definitely look nice, and i will surely try the recipes. thank again.

  15. Caroline says:

    I happened upon your website some time ago and have been meaning to make these. I have home baked since I was in my teens. I made these for my daughter for Valentine’s Day because she loves Red Velvet. I was very pleased with the results! They looked like gourmet cupcakes and my daughter said the frosting tasted like that as well. The cupcakes was super airy and delicious and I LOVE THE FROSTING. My husband said that it was the best cupcake he had ever eaten.

    The only thing I will change next time is to only fill the liners 2/3 – 3/4 full. I used all the batter to make 24 cupcakes and they were really full. They turned out great anyway but I thought for aesthetic reasons I would rather not have the “muffin lid” on them. I kept these refrigerated because of the icing and enjoy them most at room temperature. A 4-5 second pop in the microwave does the trick if you can’t wait.

    Thank you for the recipe and your website.

  16. Libby Sellers says:

    Forget the cream cheese frosting! The traditional velvet cake frosting IS delicious….some people in the south add shredded cconut and toasted, chopped pecans to the frosting. REALLY Delicious:) One tip: Beat the sugar and butter thoroughly, and then very thoroughly after you add the flour/milk stuff. Make sure that the sugar “melts” totally into the frosting. AND FORGET CRISCO ALTOGETHER!

  17. Wina says:

    LOVE IT!!

  18. farasha says:

    oooohhh thats killing !!!

  19. Caitlin says:

    Hi Irina- these look amazing!
    quick question- is the sugar you use caster/granulated/icing (powdered) sugar? It isn’t specified!
    Normally it’s icing (powdered) sugar in frosting, but since this frosting is so unusual I thought I’d double check!
    Thanks!

  20. PastryPal says:

    Hi Caitlin — In this case, it’s granulated sugar. Thanks for noticing — I fixed it in the post.

  21. Ayu says:

    hi irina. i’m ayu and i’m from malaysia. just to double check, how long can this frosting stay outside from the fridge, well, taking into consideration that the wheather in malaysia is kind of hot? will it be runny? another thing, how can i make cream cheese frosting more stiff, other than adding more icing sugar?

  22. PastryPal says:

    Hi Ayu — The cupcakes can probably be out for about an hour. They will eventually start to suffer under a hot sun, though.

    As far as cream cheese frosting, I can’t think of any ways to make it more firm. It depends on the texture of the cream cheese you’re using to begin with. The Philadelphia brand I like to use is pretty firm already.

  23. tayke says:

    I am a novice to baking. The best I have done is bake a cake (dont even know wat type it is). I really want to learn to bake, especially cookies and cupcakes as a home business. What are the basics and what are the things I need to do?

  24. PastryPal says:

    Tayke — I would suggest starting with some classes to learn the basics. You can also read this post which gives some ideas.

  25. Ana says:

    Hey, I already try to do this cupcake and the final color is never red! :( That I do wrong?!

    Thanks

    Ana

  26. Ronda says:

    How much frosting does this make. Should I cut it in half?

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