Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Quest for Perfection

This is my first documented attempt along a journey to create the perfect recipe for red velvet cake. I'm starting with what I know, but plan to venture way back to explore the history of this elusive cake including its boiled icing and beetroot ancestors.

My first recipe has been adapted from Paula Dean's, but I've modified the flour, cocoa and icing, as well as tweaked some of the directions. I received a lot of good feedback from my test subjects (ie work colleagues), and especially on the icing. The cake itself had a nice scarlet color and a good velvety texture, but was still light - a perfect complement to the sweetness of the icing. I find that these cupcakes are usually more moist the following day, so I'd bake them ahead of time and then ice them before you are ready to serve. Try it out and let me know what you think.

For the red velvet cupcakes:

2 1/2 c + 5T cake flour (sift before measuring)
1 1/2 c sugar
1t baking soda
1t salt
1T + 1t natural cocoa powder (not dutch-processed)
1 1/2 c vegetable oil
1 c buttermilk - the fattening kind (room temperature)
2 large eggs (room temperature)
2T red food coloring
1t white distilled vinegar
1t pure madagascar vanilla

For the cream cheese icing:
1lb box of confectioners sugar (a little under 4 1/2 c sifted)
1-8oz block of cream cheese - the fattening kind (softened)
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
1t pure madagascar vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour (pre-measured and sifted), sugar, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl or ramekin, mix together the cocoa and food coloring to form a paste. In a large bowl, gently beat (speed 1 or 2 of a handheld mixer) the oil, buttermilk, eggs, vinegar, vanilla and red paste mixture until blended. Add in the dry ingredients slowly and beat (speed of 1 or 2) until smooth. Divide the batter evenly among lined cupcake tins (I use roughly less than 1/4 c in each).

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, turning once half way through. Cool in tins for no more than 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (about 40 minutes).

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Slowly sift in the confectioners sugar and beat on a low speed until incorporated. Then increase the speed until fully blended. Piping cream cheese icing isn't the easiest, so I'd recommend frosting the cupcakes with a spatuala or butter knife.

Happy Baking!


  1. love loves,
    welcome to the WORLD of blogging!
    yay for a baking blog...keep me up to date on all your baking!
    i hope you are happy, healthy and doing wonderful!
    hugs and love your way, mo

  2. Thanks Mo! Been blogging here and there for clients, but figured this would be a fun, non-work related project. Here's to hoping I don't gain 25lbs in the process ;-)

  3. Just made these for valentine's day and they are divine!
    Love the blog!

  4. I'm going to try your recipe out. Question: does it make a huge difference if I use just pure vanilla extract rather than pure madagascar vanilla extract?


Have feedback for the Velveteen Baker? Comment away with any questions, recipes, special requests or just general red velvet adoration.