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Jul 18, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes : An Opinion & A Recipe

Warning: This is a very opinionated post

(Never write when grumpy)

Red Velvet ... another fad? Why not green velvet or blue velvet or some other velvet? I doubt any of those "velvets" will work for me .... I'm not into coloring. Now, maybe I should use beetroot juice to color these but will it alter the taste? I'm quite certain it will. A friend told me she had some made with beetroot juice and it was nice and she couldn't tell at all.

So why did I make these?

I had to, I was curious as to what all the fuss was about. I know it's been around for awhile now but I've never felt like I needed to make any.

I had some at a cake shop with a friend. The stained tongue, fingers and lips didn't really look too chic and the taste wasn't too out-of-this-world either. And then I tried it at another place, ho-hum. Just like any other cupcake, except the texture is nice and fine and the added buttermilk and vinegar made a slightly more interesting taste. I just had to search for a recipe and try it out ... just curious, you know.

This claimed to be one of the better ones. I tried it out. It's good ...... but ...

Nothing's wrong with the recipe. It's just me. Maybe I'm not a cup-cakey person, maybe the red color puts me off, maybe the amount of coloring used puts me off ...

Oh yeah, another thing .... ignore the frosting. I'm hopeless at piping. Practise, practise ....

On a less grumpy note, I've been wanting to feature this brilliant idea for awhile now ... cupcake wrappers. I can't remember where I'd got the template for mine but I prefer these to the ones that need glue to put together (notice the tab and slot). Just google for "cupcake wrap templates" and there are a ton of them for you to choose from. They have made my otherwise plain ol' cupcakes a little prettier.

And funnily enough, when things look good, they seem to taste a whole lot better. (Ahem)


2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder

2 oz red food coloring ( I didn't use that much, I used abt 2 tbs and scared myself)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

1 tsp white vinegar

1 tsp baking soda


Preheat oven to 180˚C. Line tins with cupcake liners.

Sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste, without lumps. (Since I used less liquid coloring, I had to add a little water to make a paste). Set aside.

In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.

Beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste until well mixed.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, stir to mix well, then beat in half the buttermilk.

Stir in another 1/3 of flour then the other half of buttermilk. end with the last 1/3 of flour, mix until well combined.

In a small bowl, mix together vinegar and baking soda.

Add to cake batter and stir well.

Fill cupcake cups to slightly under 3/4 full.

Bake in preheated oven for about 20 mins or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Cool cupcakes on a wire rack completely before frosting.

Frost with your favorite topping.

* Here I used cream cheese frosting which didn't quite hold up in our humid weather and today was exceptionally hot, hot, HOT!!


  1. I really don't get the fad about red velvet either and actually only knew about it 3 weeks ago at a kid's party. I'm really not into colouring especially when it's for kids. I think using beetroot juice would definitely be a way better and healthier choice. That is one super red cupcake. Love the wrapper!

  2. I'm not a big fan of food colouring either. But at least the cupcakes tasted decent, and those wrappers are gorgeous! :)

  3. Your cupcakes are so beautifully red, I can imagine making them just to admire the colour! (Actually I have never made any cupcakes, not even tasted them... so it would be my very first step in the cupcake world).
    I have just noticed there is some cocoa in the ingredients list! Furiously red cupcakes tasting of cocoa... I would love to try them!

  4. Oh, I have just noticed another "detail": they have the colours of the Swiss flag ;-) (the country I happen to live now). I absolutely must make them!

  5. mom2kiddos: Yeah, maybe I'll give beetroot juice a go once i get over the redness of it. Ick.

    Leaf: Hello! Yes, the cupcakes actually tasted good. I try not to think of how much coloring goes in it. :D

    Sissi: You like them? Gosh! Thanks! And Switzerland is lucky to have someone who loves it so much and so patriotic :D Do let me know how they turn out if you do make them. Enjoy!

  6. I don't understand the fuss over red velvet either. It's just chocolate cake that's red. However, these cupcakes look so beautiful and I would be giddy if I was gifted with one or three. I am going to take your suggestion and check out the template for the cupcake wrappers. They add a very chic touch.

  7. I'm not into coloring either, great minds think alike:) But I must say the color looks really really attractive. I made beetroot cake once, the batter looked excellent but some of the color was lost during baking. I suppose some of the food coloring can be natural so its not that bad.

    I thought you were grumpy?:)

  8. Red velvet is not a fad... it's a classic! :D And I love these adorable cupcake holders!

  9. I always use beets in my red velvet and you can't tell they are in there. Your cupcakes are beautiful Ping :)!

  10. LOL :D a few months ago, I wrote a post about how red velvet changed my life! I LOVE red velvet... I never knew there was a fad... most people in India have never even heard about it... Now it's my favorite cupcake... You are right about the food coloring, it can be skipped. But there's a reason for the red color - in the earlier days of baking the cocoa powder was milled in such a way that it reacted with the vinegar. It was that chemical reaction that turned the cake a reddish color. Cocoa powder is no longer processed the same way and hence the addition of colour in the modern era to replicate it. Again, you could skip the coloring, and have the cupcake taste just as good! :) I like your 'opinionated post' and I am sorry my comment is longer than your post! :)

    PS: I LOVE the photographs in this post... just gorgeous!

  11. Wow I use that much GEL food coloring and still don't get such a bright red. Clearly I'm using the wrong brand!

  12. Now that's a real "red" velvet, as compare to the one I had on Sunday. Prior to Sunday, I had no clue about what was red velvet. After Sunday, I still have no interest in the name also. But hey! awesome idea for cupcake wrapper. I used to get my junior to draw and cut something like that, little did I know it's in the internet... Thanks!

  13. Pretend Chef: Hi Rochelle. Yeah, my thoughts exactly and my husband says he prefers straight up chocolate cake anyway.

    3Cookies: Doesn't that sound grumpy? Hmm ...

    Tiffany: I love them wrappers! Makes the cupcakes look so much more presentable :D

    Amy: Thanks! Really, you can't taste the beetroot? Ok, maybe I'll give it another go with beetroot just to satisfy my curiosity.

    The Harried Cook: Wow! Don't apologise for the length of your comment. It was very enlightening and I learnt something new at that. Now I know where this came from and the reason behind all that hype. Thank you!

    Xiaolu: Haha! I guess different brands do produce different shades.

    PFx: Yup, not such a big deal to me either. Just out of curiosity, you know ....

  14. OMG that's a very very red cubcake! I'm with you, don't really care much about the food colloring. But your wrappings are just too cute!

  15. Lilly: It is, isn't it? Sigh ... perhaps if I'd used more of the color, it would have turned out a deeper red and not this bright.

  16. Well even though red velvet seems to be the fad all of sudden and I don't know why, your cupcakes do look tasty! I'm more into the frostings anyway... I feel like the frosting is what can really make a cake

  17. Elyse: Yes, I agree, the frosting can make or break a cupcake/cake. But I'm not a frosting/icing person and I usually scrape them off. It's more of a decoration to me. I'd go for a chocolate ganache anytime tho :D

  18. I love everything red, so I have to love this too :)

  19. Well, from what I know, its red velvet because the combo of baking soda and cocoa powder has a reddish hue. Nowadays its done with food coloring, of course.
    It photographs really well too. Love your cupcake wrappers.

  20. I am quite amused by this because I have always kept it to myself that I just don't get the whole Red Velvet cake mania.. May we should start a group LOL

  21. Marina: Thanks much!

    Indie.Tea: Hi. Thanks for dropping by.

    Mike: LOL! Well, you're the diplomatic one then.

  22. Now those are really red, red velvet cupcakes. I think your photo is stunning! I'm not a big cupcake fan, but I love looking at them. Red velvet has been around here in the south for quite sometime now, I think the fad is in other parts, not just red velvet, but cupcakes in general...all kinds of beautiful cupcakes!

    BTW my daughter just loves them!

  23. Lyndsey: Hi! Thanks for liking the pic. Yes, like you, I enjoy the pretty cupcakes .. looking at them. Everyone's crazy about red velvet here ... well, maybe not everyone. :P

  24. Ping-your post is so funny, and entertaining. Not to worry, just express yourself which you obviously don't have any problems with.
    Fad or no fad, redv velvet cakes or cupcakes are here to stay, and the little red food coloring is a lot safer now, than a decade ago.
    Perfectly yummy the cute and fancy homemade wrapper!
    BTW-re: the question abt who eats my brownies when my family is away...I just pass them around to my daughter's nice neighboors. I only permit myself to eat one piece!

  25. Hi Elisabeth. Haha! Glad you found it entertaining :D I do shoot my mouth off often and I hope I haven't offended anyone ... but, it's just my opinion on certain things.Yes, i guess red coloring is a lot safer these days. I remember some time ago when they actually had a worldwide ban on it. Nevertheless, I won't be using too much of it and probably try using a more natural source.
    PS. I wish I was your neighbor. :D

  26. I 'm with you it's strange that it is almost revered as a type of cake but the power is in the words and what red velvet was used for......Happy baking it's good to try different things x.

  27. Hi Pauline. Yeah, you're so right ... it's a lot of hype out there as well. And I am a curious enough person to try different things. I'd like to try out some of your very interesting cakes too one day when I can find the proper ingredients for some of them. Thanks for visiting :D

  28. SomethingGood: You really think so? Gosh, thanks so much!

  29. Yeah. Me too, don't know what is really the difference of the red velvet cupcakes to chocolate cakes. But this recipe is still looks good and yummy.

  30. Hi Tabby Bear: Thanks for dropping by. I think I still prefer plain ol' chocolate cake with a good chocolate ganache any day :D

  31. Really nice cupcakes! The colors are amazing! I got to give it a try! Thank you for the recipe!

  32. Rosa Unique: Thank you and thanks for visiting.

  33. That Red Velvet Cupcakes is what I would say as the "lovers cake". Not only due to its color but also due to it's taste. I would like to follow your recipe and share it with my love.

  34. Piano Toy: Hi! Awwww ... how romantic! Thanks for dropping by.

  35. Fad or not, red velvet cake is my absolute favorite and these look DELISH.

  36. thedailydish: Haha! .. thank you!

  37. I refuse to cave to food fads myself, and especially any as trashy (forgive me) as red velvet cake/cupcakes. If I remember correctly, the "red velvet" thing originates from the American South and once long ago the red color was achieved by adjusting pH of cocoa with other ingredients so it turned reddish. Except that, if I understand it right, the trick only works with really expensive cocoa, and it doesn't get nearly this red. Now it's become commercialized and thus the ton-and-a-half of food coloring. Not my favorite food history item, these.

    I personally think their popularity can only be explained by the fact that people just like the sexy sound of "red velvet" and avoid thinking of what goes in it when they eat it.

    On entirely different note, love the wrapper! What sort of paper did you make it out of? - it's really pretty!


  38. eattheroses: Hi Veronika! You know, I've been looking for the perfect word to describe how I felt about red velvet whatevers and you've just said it for me ... trashy! That is just so appropriate! Aaah ... now I'm satisfied. I can now throw the word to my friends who think I'm an old fuddy duddy for not thinking as highly of it as they do. Duh.
    The wrapper is just plain ol' gift wrapping paper. I didn't bake the cupcakes in them. The cakes are baked in the regular cupcake liners and are just sitting on top of those wrappers after they're cooled. You can use any paper you like ... even make them out of lace-cut doilies. I'm not the pearls and lace kind of person. I'd use denim if I could :D

  39. Hah, if they quibble, refer them to me, I'll tell them what goes in their food coloring! Mwahahaha! *scary food-scientist finger wiggle*

    Aha! I'm a pearls and black dress girl myself, so the wrapper would have been great for me, I love that sort of sophisticated patterning on tableware and details! And the idea to put them into those afterwards is fantastic - I'd been breaking my head wondering how you kept it from singing! ... Just tells me I need more caffeine to wake up, I suspect!

    Off to read your new post now, the picture looked amazing!

  40. Hello again, Veronika. Haha, I definitely will be consulting you more often then. Love the finger wiggle!

  41. queen in the kitchenNovember 3, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    I have made red velvet cake with a cooked frosting. The combination is really like velvet. It is the traditional southern recipe - cream cheese frosting would slide off the cake in the heat of the southern summer.
    COOKED FROSTING AND FILLING: cook 4-5 T flour with 1 c milk until thick. Cream 1 c butter or shortening with 1 cup granulated sugar. Combine the two mixtures and add 1 t vanilla extract. Whip for 10 minutes until fluffy as whipped cream.

  42. queen in the kitchen: Yup, thanks. Made that for the dark chocolate cupcake. Just had to try out what everyone's raving about. And yeah, it slides :D