Red Velvet Cupcakes

Let’s get this out of the way: Red velvet cake is delicious and you should be eating it.

red velvet cupcake

Last weekend I had a sudden craving for red velvet cupcakes. I’ve made red velvet cake before with cream cheese frosting (click here to read about it!). It was my first time making red velvet, and although the frosting had turned out great, the cake was a huge disappointment. For some reason it didn’t have that soft, melt-in-your mouth texture that red velvet cake is supposed to have. I later found out that was due to a problem in my oven, it had delayed the baking process. And to make things worse, I had decorated it nicely and taken it to someone’s house only to taste and cringe internally!

Red velvet has a very distinct look, and I guess that’s what makes it so appealing. Not much of a different flavour to chocolate cupcakes but its the colour that is important. The recipe usually needs a huge amount of food colouring but I only used a little bit here. I was looking at comments on other food blogs and it turns out you can use beetroot juice instead of food colouring! How cool is that? Beets don’t have a very strong flavour but a beautiful, rich colour, and apparently during World War 2 food rationing caused people to use beets instead of food colouring to make red velvet cakes.

red velvet cupcakes with buttercream

I used a recipe from Martha Stewart and was going to make her cream cheese frosting but of course, had no cream cheese at the time. That’s what happens during spontaneous moments of baking. So I whipped up a quick batch of buttercream, which turned out to be of the right consistency for once. You might have to refer to my many disasters with buttercream to understand that.

red velvet

Finally got the texture that I wanted! Soft, moist and so good in your mouth.

martha stewarts red velvet cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons liquid red food colouring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons white vinegar


1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder and salt. Preheat oven to 170 C.

2. Whisk sugar and oil together with an electric mixer until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Mix in food colour and vanilla.

3. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, mixing well after each.

4. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl and allow it to foam. Add this mixture to the cake batter and mix for ten seconds.

4. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners. Divide the batter evenly amongst the cups until each is three-quarters full. Bake for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting with buttercream or cream cheese frosting.

Note: If you don’t have buttermilk, just pour 1 tablespoon of white vinegar into a measuring cup. Pour in milk until the cup is full. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before using.


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