Before the first real cupcake bakery opened in Manila, Red Velvet Cake was only something I read about in In Style or People (it was the flavor du jour at swanky Hollywood parties).And when they were finally available here, I just had to have one. I was giddy with anticipation as I had my first bite of the famed, pale red cupcake.
And I was terribly disappointed moments later. The frosting was delicious (cream cheese always is), but I couldn’t understand the taste of the cupcake itself. It wasn’t exactly like yellow cake, or a chocolate cupcake in disguise, but more like a red blandness.
Years (and zero Red Velvet Cupcakes) later, my friend sent me a recipe for the little scarlet cakes. She kept bugging me to make it, but it took a while before I finally succumbed. The resulting cupcakes were a far cry from the lackluster ones that initially turned me off. Helped along by a generous amount of cocoa, they were deeper and richer. They were also moist, dense, and topped with that glorious cream cheese frosting. At one point, I baked them three times in one week, and ate two one and a half pieces daily.
Quite a few people outside my family have said that these Red Velvet Cupcakes are even better than the ones at a certain cupcake bakery. Thus, I feel that it is my civic duty to share the recipe here, so you can also make yourself a Red Velvet Cupcake that’s worth all the fuss.
Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes
Total Time: 70 minutes / Yield: 12 regular cupcakes or 35 mini cupcakes
Ingredients for the Red Velvet Cupcakes (recipe adapted from the NY Times)
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp red gel food coloring
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp white vinegar
Ingredients for the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature (½ cup or 112 grams)
- 1 8 oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 – 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
Procedure for the Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line a regular cupcake pan (the kind with 12 partitions) with cupcake liners.
- Whisk cake flour, cocoa, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
- Place oil and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in egg.
- With mixer on low, add red food coloring very slowly. Add vanilla.
- Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl, and beat just long enough to combine the ingredients well.
- Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar, and add to batter with the mixer running. Beat for 10 seconds.
- Divide batter among the partitions in the cupcake pan, filling each about 2/3 full.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes for full-sized cupcakes, 10-12 minutes for mini ones. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into each one. It should come out clean.
- Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Procedure for the Cream Cheese Frosting
- By hand or with a mixer, cream the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla together until combined.
- Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar to taste.
- I usually put in around 1 1/2 to 2 cups, but you may need to add more sugar if you want a stiffer frosting for piping. If you don’t want to double the amount of sugar, chilling the frosting for about an hour before piping helps.
- Buttermilk can be purchased at the Rizal Dairy Farms stall in Market Market for PHP130/liter, but you need to call them (660-2197 or 729-0304) three days in advance. A cup of milk less one tablespoon, with a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice added, will also do in a pinch.