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Cupcakes that Live Up to the Hype: Classic Red Velvet

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

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a regular cupcake pan (the kind with 12 partitions) with cupcake liners.
  3. Whisk cake flour, cocoa, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Place oil and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in egg.
  5. With mixer on low, add red food coloring very slowly. Add vanilla.
  6. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl, and beat just long enough to combine the ingredients well.
  7. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar, and add to batter with the mixer running. Beat for 10 seconds.
  8. Divide batter among the partitions in the cupcake pan, filling each about 2/3 full.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

  1. By hand or with a mixer, cream the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla together until combined.
  2. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar to taste.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

34 Responses

  1. would that be possible for you to put everything in grammes for me? Or like spoons? I’m French and I’m having trouble w/ the measurements. I tried them today and put way to much cocoa ^^(still good though!)

  2. would that be possible for you to put everything in grammes for me? Or like spoons? I’m French and I’m having trouble w/ the measurements. I tried them today and put way to much cocoa ^^(still good though!)

  3. i just tested your recipe.. it’s good.. but it’s more of a chocolate cupcakes to me than a red velvet cake.. i dont know if i did something wrong

    1. You can use one cup of milk, less one tablespoon mixed with one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice. Let that stand for about 5-10 minutes before using.

    1. Hi Sha. I’m not 100% sure but I don’t think so. Generally, recipes that have baking soda in it require natural/unalkalized coca since the two result in a reaction that causes the batter to rise. Also, the flavor might be different, since alkalized cocoa tends to have a milder flavor than natural.

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by “commercially available” as it is available at their Market Market stall. They usually have it even if you don’t order in advance but it’s still safer to call ahead.
      Hacienda Macalauan makes it as well, but by special order only.

  4. Tried it – it was wonderful! 🙂 my family – kids and grown-ups loved them too! Definitely making these again!

    1. I really, really would recommend that you use cake flour, it’s available in most supermarkets. But if you really can’t use cake flour, then of course you can substitute AP flour, although I’ve never tried it myself so I can’t vouch for how it will turn out. The most common substitution I found online would be:

      1 cup AP flour – 2 Tbsp AP flour + 2 Tbsp cornstarch = 1 cup cake flour

      You have to sift this mixture together about 5 or 6 times to make sure it’s well combined. However, I’ve read online that this substitution can result in a corn-y taste in what you’re making, so do take note of that.

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