One of the most common requests I get when asked to bake something is for red velvet cupcakes (the others are for “anything chocolate” or “those really good cookies that you made that one time”). I also find that people often ask me how to make red velvet cupcakes turn out well, as they seem to be a stumbling block for many bakers. So, I wanted to make sure that I have a reliable Classic Red Velvet Cupcake recipe up for everyone to try.
Red velvet cupcakes get their name from their color, which is a bright red that makes them stand out in any bakery. A basic red velvet cake is a buttermilk cake that has a hint of cocoa powder and a generous dose of red food coloring in it. In theory, cocoa-kissed cakes will take on a reddish hue due to the interaction of cocoa powder and buttermilk, but the reality is that only red food coloring is going to produce the extremely vibrant shade that most of us associate with red velvet cake (there are natural dyes available – I prefer gel dyes). A good red velvet cake should have a nice buttermilk flavor, a bit of vanilla and slight hint of cocoa to it – and it should be topped with cream cheese frosting.
These Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes are very moist and fluffy, with a light and soft crumb that almost melts in your mouth. They have the buttermilk-with-a-hint-of-cocoa flavor that you want to find in a red velvet cake, and are a very bright shade of red. The cream cheese frosting is rich and sweet, with a hint of tang from the cheese, and it really compliments the flavor of the cupcake well. These cupcakes keep well when stored in an airtight container for a few days, but they rarely last more than one or two days if you have a couple of volunteers around to help you eat them.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 tsp red food coloring (or smaller amount gel food coloring)
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and sandy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract. Sift in the cocoa powder, add in red food coloring and stir everything until well combined.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually incorporate one third of the flour mixture followed by half of the buttermilk. Add another third of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining buttermilk and the last of the flour. Mix just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Makes 12 cupcakes.
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a large bowl, beat all ingredients except the confectioners’ sugar. Gradually blend in the sugar until the icing is smooth and creamy. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.