I’m always a bit sceptical when people claim a recipe to be ‘the best’, but as this is my blog, and these are all my opinions anyway, I claim these are the best red velvet cupcakes I have ever tasted, and I have tasted a lot.
I started the first online cupcake business in Cape Town called ‘The Cupcake Kitchen‘ in early 2008 and back when these small sweet treats were rising to iconic status (we are a little bit behind the times here in South Africa).
‘Few food items can elicit such delight and happiness as the cupcake can. It’s an emotional and visual thing. As well as the fact that they are small and designed for pure and individual indulgence. Without a doubt, the highlight of my business was the sheer sense of joy that these little cakes seemed to bring to people.
The Cupcake Kitchen has been laid to rest. I have moved onto other things, but my time spent, and lessons learnt from this endeavour, will forever remain very close to my heart.’
I tested dozens of recipes at the time, and the Magnolia Bakery- NYC recipe for red velvet cake is the best that I came across.
I am yet to make the ‘creamy vanilla frosting’ that they pair with their red velvet cake. It’s a complicated recipe that involves flour which I just can’t get my head around. I have been assured by a friend that it is indeed incredible, so it’s on my to-do list for the future.
I like pairing these silky cupcakes with a slightly tart cream cheese frosting, and I have included my recipe here.
When it comes to food colouring, I go straight for the real deal. A couple of tablespoons spread over 30 cupcakes is not going to have a negative impact if it would at all. I have seen and tasted versions using beetroot as a colouring agent, but the taste of the beetroot comes through too strongly for me, and really makes it less desirable. I use only 2 tablespoons of Moirs Crimson Red liquid food colouring vs the 6 tablespoons the original recipe calls for. It is more than enough to deliver a deep red colour. (PS – sadly this food colouring has been discontinued so I opt for gel food colouring which you need a lot less of. I reckon about 1 tsp but I haven’t tested it)
You may also like my vanilla cupcakes with salted caramel and butter-cream frosting:
The very best red velvet cupcakes
- 3 1/3 cups cake flour
- 175 g | 3/4 cup | 1 1/2 sticks of butter I use salted - but you could use unsalted if you prefer
- 2 1/4 cups of sugar
- 3 large eggs at room temp
- 3 T cocoa powder
- 3 Tbsp liquid red food colouring or 1-2 teaspoons red gel food colouring
- 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 t salt
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1 1/2 t apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 t baking soda bicarbonate of soda
Cream cheese Icing
- 150 g butter room temperature
- 190 g cream cheese
- 4 1/2 cups of icing sugar
- 2 - 3 tsp lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 180 C | 350 F and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
- Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add each egg one at a time ensuring that it is well mixed before adding the next one.
- Add the cocoa, vanilla and food colouring, and mix.
- In a separate bowl sift the flour.
- Mix the salt with the buttermilk (I just add it directly into the measuring cup).
- Add the sifted flour and the buttermilk to the batter in 3 parts, allowing it to incorporate before adding the next part - do not overbeat.
- In a small bowl mix the apple cider vinegar with the baking soda - this will fizz up add this right at the end to the batter and mix briefly.
- Scrape down the bowl by hand using a spatula and ensure that everything is mixed in.
- Using an ice cream scoop to ensure consistency, scoop out dollops of dough to about 3/4 of the way up the cupcake case. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until well risen-and springy to the touch.
To make the icing
- Beat all of the above ingredients together using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice at the end teaspoon at a time until it is the right consistency.
- Decorate your cooled cupcakes with a swirl of frosting and a pretty decoration of your choice.