Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I can't believe it's already been a month since I got to watch some pretty special people get married!  I think it's about time that I shared their second cupcake flavor-- Red velvet!  [the red cake + white frosting + blue wrappers...  totally acceptable for 4th of July celebrations ;)]

Now, I didn't grow up eating red velvet cake, so I didn't have a go-to recipe nor a good idea of what it should taste like.  Everyone seems to have their version of (aka the best) red velvet cake, so I had to test a few six out.  All cupcakes were topped with the same frosting in different designs and handed out to several taste-testers.  Man, was this tough!!  Luckily the bride and groom both agreed on their favorite- so we had a winning recipe.

from L: Joy the Baker/Hummingbird Bakery, Cook's Country (recipe here), Throwdown,
Smitten Kitchen, Cake Maven Raven (recipe here), Pinch My Salt

The true scientist I am, I had one more experiment to run.  The hypothesis: I can use a natural food coloring found in beets to achieve the traditional red velvet color.  I'll spare you the photos and explanations (it involves chemistry), but I tried two different methods and the results were clear:  no.  Before I knew it, it was time to start baking. Ugly brown cupcakes were not going to do it, so red food coloring it was.

With Rebecca's help, things went pretty smoothly and everything turned out well- I even had 5 minutes to get dressed before the ceremony started!  Ok, so I cut it a little close.  It was all worth it- these red velvet cupcakes were quite a hit :)

Red Velvet Cake/Cupcakes
adapted from Cake Man Raven bakery
yield: 1 8" 3-layer cake or 24 cupcakes

2 1/2c cake flour (how to measure flour)
1 1/2c evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar
1t baking soda
1T natural cocoa powder (I used Hershey's, do not use dutch-process)
1t sea salt
2 eggs
1 1/4c vegetable oil
1c buttermilk
1oz red food coloring
1t vanilla extract
1t white distilled vinegar

Preheat oven to 350deg.  Spray 3 8" cake pans with nonstick baking spray or line 2 cupcake tins with wrappers.

Add sugar and salt to a medium bowl.  Sift flour, baking soda and cocoa powder into the bowl.  Whisk dry ingredients together.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat remaining (wet) ingredients with the paddle attachment until well combined.  Add the dry ingredients and beat until smooth, ~2min.

Divide batter evenly between cake pans or use a large cookie scoop to evenly distribute between cupcakes. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean, 15-18min for the cupcakes or 25-30min for the cake.  Let cool 5 min, then remove cupcakes from the pans onto a cooling rack.  For the cake, invert onto a plate and then invert back onto the cooling rack.  Let cool completely before frosting.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Buttercream

1 1/2 sticks (12oz) butter, RT
1 1/2 pkgs (12oz) cream cheese, RT
1 1/2t vanilla extract
1.5lbs powdered/confectioners sugar
2 1/4t cinnamon

Whisk together powdered sugar and cinnamon.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and blend until combined.  Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth (start off slow to avoid getting sugar all over the kitchen, then speed up to incorporate well).

Can be made ahead and refrigerated, just bring to RT before using.

Which would win you over- red velvet or strawberry shortcake cupcakes??  I had to try both...


Joanne said...

I wish I lived closer so I could have helped with the taste testing! Red velvet is totally my favorite.

Erica said...

Strawberry shortcake for sure! But these look yummy too! I"m trying out some natural food coloring for Kaylin's birthday in August...hopefully it will work out!

Tiffany @ The Chi-Athlete said...

Red velvet, all the way! Those look AMAZING!

Tasty Trix said...

My wedding cake was red velvet! And I just celebrated my 5th anniversary so I am thinking I may need to whip some of these up ...

Natalie said...

oh my gosh--that comparison picture is so cool!

Sacha said...

I love the work you put into testing options, but I have to say, I am all about the strawberry shortcake cupcake. Strawberries are my favorite fruit, so how could I not be?

Hannah said...

Now that is the best red velvet head-to-heat I've ever seen! Awesome to really be able to know how differently those recipes turn out.

vanillasugarblog said...

really now?
I think I made the ATK ones before?
Can't remember.
But I am saving this recipe for later, since you gave it a high rating.

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