Buttery, velvety and moist, this Red Velvet Cupcakes will be a sure winner this coming Valentine's and it is not all that difficult to make. Once you've tried these red velvet cupcakes, you will understand why it is named so.
Unlike other recipes that use only (vegetable) oil, I liked the idea of mixing butter and oil together. The reason is, butter makes and baked goods well, buttery...tastier, on the other hand, the oil is the secret for making them moist. I got this idea from Sally of Sally's Baking Addiction. The ingredients are almost the same as hers but the process is different. I like keeping it simple and as hassle-free as possible so I got away with some of the steps like beating the egg whites into stiff form and stick mostly to the traditional way of making this delectable cake.
To achieve that velvety texture, you will really need to use cake flour for this recipe. If you don't have it or is not available, have no fear. Since I always only have all-purpose-flour in our pantry and I do not stock up on cake flour, it is always good to have some trick up your sleeves. Maybe a lot of you already knows about this cake flour alternative, but for those who don't just make sure you also have cornstarch at home all the time. The difference between the two is that cake flour is a low protein flour and has a very fine texture. The lower the protein the less gluten will form when baking, which results in a cake with a fine, soft crumb. Substituting a part of the all-purpose flour with cornstarch should give the same effect.
Another tip for you! If you don't have buttermilk at hand, here is a handy alternative. Just add lemon juice to milk and you've got yourself a buttermilk. For this recipe, I added two tablespoons of lemon juice to ¾ cup of fresh milk and it looks and tastes like the real buttermilk, thicker and tangy!
This Red Velvet Cupcake recipe is enough to make 14 pieces of regular-sized cupcakes. But since my pan has only 12 slots I made the 12 and the rest of the batter I used to make mini-cupcakes. They are really cute and being bite-size, easier and more fun to eat (like we need any more enticement...not really!)
Key Points for making these perfect Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Don't skip the sifting of the dry ingredients. This ensures that your batter will be smooth and lump-free which will result in fine texture of the crumbs of the cupcakes
- The combination of butter and oil plays a very important role. It keeps the cupcakes moist and buttery at the same time.
- Using cake flour or, as an alternative, adding cornstarch to flour is another key factor to achieve that crumbly, velvety texture you should aim for.
- You may use any form of food coloring but the amount will vary depending on many things. Just make sure you start with a small amount and add more until you get the shade you want. Some food colors fade while others stay vivid after baking. Get to know your food color.
- When making the buttercream, use butter that is not too hard (cold) but also not too soft. A knife should cut through it easily but the form is still intact and not yet melting away. Too soft butter might result in liquidy or weeping buttercream.
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 ounces (½ stick) butter - softened at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup buttermilk (see alternative)
- ½ cup canola or vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- red food coloring (liquid or gel)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon white vinegar
- cream cheese frosting (just make half of the recipe)
- In a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt. Mix with a whisk or fork until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, cream butter using a hand or stand mixer for 2 minutes at high speed. Add sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract. Beat until no longer lumpy.
- Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until well blended. Add food color while mixing until you've reached the desired red coloring (took me about 2 Tbsp. liquid food color).
- In a small bowl, mix together the baking soda and vinegar and immediately pour into the batter. Mix just several times more.
- Spoon batter into lined cupcake pans, filling about ⅔ of each liner. Bake in a preheated oven at 170°C/340°F for 15-18 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove pan from oven and let the cupcakes cool down a bit before removing them. Let them cool completely before adding the frosting.
- Once the cupcakes are cooled, prepare the Cream Cheese Frosting. Click here for the recipe and just cut all the ingredient measurements in half and it should be enough.
- Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag and frost the cupcakes as desired. You may also just use a spoon and spread the frosting on top of each cupcake.