Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes

8 Feb 2018

I promised in my January gratitude list that I'd be doing some baking this month and I wasn't lying! My first baking post in what feels like forever is finally here and by golly, it's a good'un. To me, February is a bit of a mellow month. Not much happens in my life during this month, except for Pancake Day and Chinese New Year, but it's also the month that Valentine's Day belongs to. Now, we don't tend to do anything for Valentine's because J and I are those grumpy people that say "why dedicate one day to telling people you love them when you should tell them all year round?" which is a fair comment, but I decided to base these cakes on Valentine's Day. A little bit contradictory, but let me explain a little bit more.

Everywhere you go right now, the shops are full of red and pink items, and all manner of heart-related gifts. That's the kind of stuff that turns my stomach. If it was up to me, none of that tacky stuff would be a thing, but I decided to use the 'red' theme and make a batch of red velvet cakes. Red velvet is a total classic and probably one of the most popular cakes on the market, and while they kind of have a Valentine's feel to them, they don't scream mushy romance in your face. That makes these cupcakes totally perfect for a low-key Valentine's Day, a Galentine's Day get together or just as something fun to bake!
Like I said before, red velvet is most likely one of the most popular cakes in the current market, but it has always boggled my mind as to why. Red velvet is basically a vanilla cake with a tiny bit of cocoa powder and red food colouring in, and there isn't much more to it. A lot of recipes, like the one I'll be sharing with you today, feature white wine vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, and these two ingredients combined make for an ever so slight tang to the mixture, but also providing a chemical reaction that helps to lift the cakes and make them super light. Despite it's popularity leaving me confused, I have to agree with it's fans that it is a scrumptious type of cake, so I had no qualms with whipping up a batch!

I'll be honest, this isn't my own recipe. I know, shock horror, but I like to try and stick to my own as much as possible. The recipe I'm sharing comes from the Hummingbird Bakery and I've tweaked it ever so slightly, but if you'd like to see the original, then you can click here! Of course, I had to pair the cakes up with cream cheese frosting. It's an unwritten rule that all red velvet cakes must feature cream cheese frosting, otherwise the product is not complete. To finish mine off and add an extra romantic flourish, I dipped some strawberries in chocolate to go on top and sprinkles over a little bit of pink edible glitter. Why the heck not?! As a side note, your cupcakes won't turn out with weird muffin tops like I did. I was just a bit over-zealous with how much mixture I was putting in each case, not realising that the bicarb-vinegar mixture would give that much oomph to them. So this recipe will make 12, like it's supposed to, instead of 10, which is how many weird muffin cupcakes I made.

For the cupcakes, you will need:
60g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
1 egg
20g cocoa powder
Half teaspoon red food gel colouring
Half teaspoon vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk
150g plain flour
Half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1.5 teaspoons white wine vinegar

For the decoration, you will need:
300-400g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter, softened
200g cream cheese
100g milk chocolate
Punnet of strawberries
Edible pink glitter (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.
  2. Put the butter and the sugar in a large bowl and beat on medium speed with a hand mixer (or whisk) until light, fluffy and well mixed. Turn the mixer up to high speed, slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food gel and vanilla extract to make a very thick, dark paste. I recommend using a food gel rather than colouring as gel is much more vivid and won't fade in the heat of the oven. Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured. Scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix in.
  4. Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly pour in half of the buttermilk. Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour and beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added. Scrape down the side of the bowl again. Turn the mixer up to a high speed and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture.
  5. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  7. Meanwhile, make the frosting by beating the remaining 100g of unsalted butter and the cream cheese together using a hand mixer on a medium-slow speed until the mixture becomes smooth. Add the icing sugar in 100g increments until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Do not overbeat, otherwise it can quickly become runny.
  8. Once your cakes have cooled, pipe or spoon your cream cheese frosting on top and set them to one side whilst your work on the strawberries. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water (or in the microwave, being sure to stir often), then dip your strawberries in, making sure that they are nicely coated. Lay each one on a lined baking sheet, then pop this into the fridge for around 10 minutes to set.
  9. Once your strawberries have set, pop one on each cake and finish off with a sprinkle of edible glitter.
While there are a fair few steps to this recipe, it's very difficult to go wrong. Just don't put too much mixture in each case like I did and you'll be fine! Whether you're making these for Valentine's Day, a birthday or just because, they will go down an absolute storm. They have the right amount of sweetness from the frosting and just a slight tang in the cake crumb. People definitely won't be able to say no to one, especially with a juicy strawberry sitting on top!

Whould you like to comment?

  1. These look so yummy! I will definitely be trying this recipe x Nikita

    BLOG//Jasmine Loves

  2. These look so good I could just eat them off the page. I have the hummingbird recipe book and everything looks so good but complicated! Maybe that will be my venture in the next few weeks.
    Katie xx