I have a very good sweet tooth. Very. It’s good at demanding cake, cupcakes, tarts – anything sugary. The problem is that it’s just The Husband and I so when I bake, we end up eating ourselves into near-diabetic comas. I will look for any excuse or reason to bake. Oh look, it’s sunny, I should bake. The Stormers won the rugby, let’s bake! (I don’t follow rugby at all and have no idea who our captain is but it’s as good an excuse as any.) Do you see where I’m going with this? So when, last week, my step-mom was planning The Father’s 60th birthday, I jumped at the opportunity to provide the cake. I have a bit of a love affair going on with red velvet – I love it and, in turn, it loves my hips. No lies. Now, at the risk of sounding rather obnoxious, these red velvet cupcakes are the superlative choice for special occasions. They have a mild chocolatey flavour and the buttermilk provides a creamy taste and keeps them perfectly moist.
If you’re wondering why vinegar is used – it’s actually quite a common practice in baking. Vinegar, when used with baking soda, acts as a raising agent. Don’t worry about the cupcakes tasting weird, there are so many other flavours so you can’t taste it at all.
This recipe makes 24 cupcakes.
120g/½ cup butter
1½ cups white sugar
⅓ cup cocoa powder
40ml red food colouring
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
250ml/1 cup buttermilk
2⅓ cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). In a medium-sized bowl, mix the butter and sugar on medium-high for about 2 minutes until it’s well blended and light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low after each addition, until fully blended.
In a large bowl, sift the cocoa and pour in the food colouring, mixing with a spoon until smooth. Add into the batter, scraping down the sides with a spatula and beat on low for 10-20 seconds. Stir in the vanilla. Stop beating and scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula, loosening the batter at the bottom.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour and sprinkle half of it into the mixture, beating on low. Pour in half of the buttermilk, mix, sprinkle the remaining flour, beat, and finally add the remaining buttermilk, beating until fully mixed.
Add the salt, baking soda and vinegar and stir well with a spatula or wooden spoon until mixed. Beat on high for 30 seconds – 1 minute until fully mixed.
Pour the batter into the muffin cups, filling them ⅔. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clear.
For the frosting:
200g butter, room temperature
230ml plain cream cheese, also room temperature
5 cups icing sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
Cut the butter into small cubes and allow to reach room temperature. In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese on high until light and fluffy, 3 – 4 minutes. Sift in the icing sugar, stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until loosely combined, then beat until fully combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla essence and give the frosting one last beat. Decorate as desired. I used a large piping nozzle (thicker than my thumb) in a large plastic piping bag to make thick swirls, then sprinkled some edible glitter and hearts, but you can decorate the cupcakes however you like!