Thursday, 24 October 2013

red velvet cupcakes & cream cheese icing



I've eaten a lot of red velvet cake in my short life, and have come to the happy conclusion that no thigh gap could ever feel as good as red velvet cake tastes. It is hands down my favourite type of cake – but oh, it is so misunderstood. Especially in the UK, where for some reason Tesco seems to think that selling chocolate cake with a bit of red food colouring constitutes "red velvet". No. Red velvet cake is not chocolate cake, but a delicious sponge with a careful blend of chocolate and vanilla flavour, along with an added tang from the use of buttermilk. In this recipe, cider vinegar adds to that delicious tart flavour. Alongside its natural partner in crime, cream cheese icing, a red velvet should feel like... Well, velvet! It should be velvety soft, velvety smooth, and should feel one hundred percent luxurious. These humble little cupcakes are the most delicious mouthfuls of creamy indulgence. The “red” part, though – well, yes, that is food colouring. And I probably should have called this post "red (ish) velvet cupcakes" because, as you may be able to tell from the above post, I couldn't get my hands on red food colouring paste within the limited resources of St Andrews. I tried valiantly with a bottle of red food colouring – indeed, I poured in the entire bottle – but to no avail. They came out a sort of deep, dark reddish-brown, kind of like oxblood or a dark burgundy.

So I know it's like, the cardinal sin of food blogging to post recipes that didn't turn out one hundred percent perfect, but unfortunately, as I said, no food colouring paste to be found! Besides, as I was tucking into my second (read: eighth) cupcake, I decided I'd just go ahead & post this recipe – flaws and all – anyway, because the taste of these cupcakes makes the colour completely irrelevant. They really are lovely – the perfect blend of chocolate and vanilla to make that distinct red velvet flavour, with one of the richest icings I've ever tried. If you can get your hands on food colouring paste I'd suggest you use about a tablespoon of that instead to achieve the true Christmas-red colour that this cake deserves, but otherwise just do what I did and eat the lot before anyone has time to check the colour. Hooray!

This recipe is slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson's KITCHEN cookbook, which I've owned for at least 2 years and have never once cooked from. Classic food blogger problem?!

To make 12 cupcakes, you will need:
  • 125g plain flour.
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder.
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.
  • 50g unsalted butter.
  • 100g caster sugar.
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  • 1 large egg.
  • 85ml buttermilk.
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of cider vinegar.
  • Either a tablespoon of food colouring paste, or a small bottle of red food colouring.
To make far too much cream cheese frosting so you're forced to eat it from the bowl, you will need:
  • 250g icing sugar.
  • 100g cream cheese.
  • 50g unsalted butter.
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of cider vinegar.



1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.

2. In a mixing bowl bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder & bicarbonate of soda. Whisk it all together to remove any lumps.

3. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter with the caster sugar. Also add the tablespoon of food colouring paste if you're using it - but if you're using regular food colouring, add it in later. When the mix is fluffy and pale, add in the vanilla essence.



4. Beating all the while, add the egg & a spoonful of your dry mix into the creamed mixture.

5. Once combined, add in the rest of the dry mixture.

6. Beat in the buttermilk, cider vinegar, and small bottle of red food colouring - unless of course, you've already used paste. This is an incredibly runny mix, but it makes for extra moist cakes so just embrace it!



7. Divide the mix evenly between 12 cases. It doesn't rise very much, so you can be quite generous with filling.

8. Cook for 15-20 minutes. The cakes are done when you can place a knife in the centre & it will come out clean.

9. Leave to cool fully before icing or the cream cheese will melt.



10. To make the cream cheese icing, simply mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. There's no need to sift the icing sugar beforehand because the mixing should get rid of any lumps. To prevent the sugar from flying everywhere in the mixing process, just place a tea towel loosely over one half of the bowl.

11. Ice the cakes, decorate with any kind of sprinkles you'd like, and enjoy!

18 comments:

  1. My absolute favorite cake flavor! Amen to that first line... I desperately want a thigh gap, but there's no way I want one if I have to give up these babies!

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    1. haha, absolutely no chance! glad you agree caroline :D thanks for your comment!

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  2. Wow!! These look beautiful! Absolutely amazing!! :) YUM!

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  3. Anything with cream cheese icing is bound to be my favorite! These look super amazing, Holly! :)

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    1. oh mine too conseulo, for sure! thank you! :)

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  4. ha you have a cute writing style, couldn't agree more though that it doesn't matter the effects of eating red velvet cake.

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  5. omg so yummy. Just feel like eating this right now lol. Will you like to follow each other on GFC, FB or Twitter? Love
    New Post Fashion Talks

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  6. Most definitely not a food blogger sin to post about something that is not perfect - even though I think these cupcakes look as pretty damn perfect as it gets (pretty color!). But really, I much prefer when blogs have an honest feel to them, like it's not just a sterile collection of recipes but an actual reflection of how we cook and eat.

    And I loved the opening sentence of this post. It's like you took that kate moss quote "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" and turned it on its head! I MUCH prefer your version. Red velvet cake > gap thigh

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    1. aw thank you! i do agree with you actually - i'm so nosy i just like seeing what people are cooking & eating every day, whatever it might look like :) and yep, that ridiculous phrase was definitely in the back of my mind when writing ;)

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  7. Haha, I could eat lettuce all day long and I'd never have a thigh gap...so I saw the more red velvet cake the better! It has to have cream cheese icing. This looks so yummy!!!

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  8. I too had this issue when I attempted to make a red velvet cake, I used a horrible amount of red food colouring with no luck. But I did read somewhere (actually, I think it may have been Nigella's website?) that there is a special "red velvet paste" that you only need a small amount of to get a decent red colouring in the cake. I couldn't find any in my local kitchen shop but I have been meaning to search for it online... But anyway, I can definitely see the red in yours and it looks gorgeous!

    Aimee @ WallflowerGirl.co.uk

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    1. yeah i've heard that as well, no idea where we're supposed to get our hands on any though, haha! thanks aimee :)

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  9. These cupcakes are beautiful! I love the deep color and they look so moist. I would definitely be sneaking one more in after the first one I eat.. ;)

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