Saturday is the 4th July. Independence Day in the United States. Not something we celebrate in the UK, but it seemed as good a reason as any to whip up a batch of red velvet cupcakes. A cake, that to me at least, feels so very American.
The name comes from the fact that, years ago, the cocoa would react with the acid and produce a red coloured sponge. Sadly, for whatever reason, that reaction no longer happens, so we need to add food colouring to recreate the effect. The batter will be vibrantly coloured until the addition of the cocoa powder, which will mute it somewhat and turn it from bright red to a more mellow burgundy.
If ever there was a cake made purely as vessel for frosting, it is the red velvet cake. Soft sponge, delicately flavoured with chocolate, grossly abused by the addition of red food colouring, sits demurely underneath a mountain of tangy cream cheese frosting. The sprinkles are optional.
Not really. When are sprinkles ever optional? If you can put sprinkles on it, put sprinkles on it.
Also – blue cake case, red cake and white icing? Red, White and Blue right there. In edible form. Cute edible form, I might add.
The prefect addition to any July 4th celebration table.
Or, let’s be honest, any table!
Red Velvet Cupcakes
For the cakes:
- 125g plain gluten-free flour *
- 15g cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 50g soft unsalted butter
- 100g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 1/2 tsp red food colouring paste **
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 88ml buttermilk ***
- 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
* add 1tsp xanthan gum if your flour blend doesn’t already contain it.
** food colouring paste will give you a better colour pay-off per quantity used than the liquid stuff. However if you can’t get hold of it, by all means use liquid food colouring but you will need more of it. Be prepared to use almost the whole bottle.
*** if you can’t get hold of buttermilk, or don’t want to buy a whole pot for such a small amount, you can make it at home by adding 5ml lemon juice to 88ml milk and letting it stand for 5 minutes before using.
For the frosting:
- 250g icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
- 63g cream cheese
- 63g soft unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
- Chocolate sprinkles (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven to 170 Celsius / 150 fan / 325 Fahrenheit. Line a 12-hole cupcake pan with cake cases.
- In a bowl mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda.
- In a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the food colouring and the vanilla extract and then beat in the egg.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Finally add the buttermilk and cider vinegar and mix.
- Divide the batter between the cake cases and bake for 20 minutes (approximately) until risen and a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once the cupcakes are completely cold, make the frosting by beating the cream cheese and butter together. Beat in the icing sugar and finally mix in the vinegar.
- Top each cupcake with some frosting and chocolate sprinkles.
- Store in an air-tight container out of direct sunlight for 3 days.
© The Pink Rose Bakery 2015