Earlier this year I decided to enroll in a culinary program to learn more about the foundations of baking and pastry. It’s been fun and I’ve learned a lot, especially in the bread baking courses (I’m looking at you, baguettes). I thought it might be fun to share a few approachable, classic recipes straight from my syllabus.
This blog has no shortage of red velvet cake recipes. You can find two of my favorites here and here – and even my blue velvet cupcake recipe from years ago when I first started blogging. But I consider this recipe to be the gold standard of red velvet cakes; unaltered and directly from my course textbook. It is made as any good red velvet cake should be, using buttermilk, baking soda, vinegar, a little cocoa powder and red food color. This recipe makes about 2 dozen cupcakes, or a 9-inch double layer cake.
I occasionally use these brioche molds from King Arthur Flour to make my cupcakes look extra special. I think they suit these red velvet beauties well. They are made of super sturdy paper and they can stand alone on a baking sheet instead of in the cavities of a cupcake tin (I used the cupcake tin because it was handy at the time).
Sifting the flour is important for a light texture in these cupcakes.
I always make sure to fill cupcake liners only 2/3 full, but it’s especially important when using the brioche molds. Overfilling them will result in some verrrry interesting-looking (okay, ugly) cupcakes.
I often get asked what kind of red food color I use for my red velvet cakes, and Durkee brand is my top choice. I first started using it after I saw some eye-popping red cakes at a local restaurant. I inquired about the food coloring and surprisingly, the staff spilled the beans. I always keep an extra large bottle on hand. It’s what I used to make this red velvet groom’s cake last year.
All red velvet fanatics should make these just once to see what the pastry school version of red velvet is like. The flavor and texture is absolute perfection, if you ask me. The cream cheese frosting is the traditional topping, but I ate three-ish cakes plain. After frosting, I garnished the cakes with Ovation Chocolate Sticks – a mint flavored version is available in bulk here on Amazon, though I found the orange cream variety in the gourmet food aisle at Tuesday Morning.
One more thing! Some of you have been asking how the First Friday art show went, and all I can say is – wow! We had a crowd, and the treats were gone in a snap! I had so much fun and loved meeting everyone. You can see a few pictures of the reception here .
Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes
Red velvet cake
- 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 tablespoons cocoa powder not Dutch process
- 2 1/4 tablespoons liquid red food color I like Durkee brand
- Cream cheese frosting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 package 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (I recommend Philadelphia brand)
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar about 1 pound*
- Milk or cream
- Make the cakes: Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- If making cupcakes, line a muffin tin with baking cups. If making cakes, grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
- In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and vinegar.
- In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar.
- Sift the cocoa into a small bowl and add the red food color. Stir until a paste forms (this will take a couple of minutes to incorporate). Add to the creamed butter mixture.
- Add alternately the dry ingredients and the buttermilk mixture to the creamed butter mixture. Make sure you scrape down the bowl when adding the ingredients.
- For cupcakes, scoop out the batter into lined muffin tins, about 2/3 of the way up, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cake springs up when touched.
- For cakes, divide the batter between two pans making them both the same to ensure even baking. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched or pulls away from the sides of the pan.
- Make the frosting: In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Beat on high until smooth for about 2 minutes. If the mixture seems too lax (a common problem with cream cheese frosting), add more confectioners’ sugar a little at a time until thickened. If the mixture seems too thick, add milk or cream a little at a time until the desired consistency is achieved. Spread the frosting onto the cupcakes or transfer it to a piping bag and pipe mounds of frosting onto the cupcakes.
- If making a layer cake, level the cakes with a serrated knife or cake leveler before filling and frosting the cake.
- Garnish as desired.