Red Velvet Cupcakes

Foodista Cookbook Entry

Category: Desserts & Sweets | Blog URL:

This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.


Red Velvet Cupcakes:
1/4 cup (salted) butter
1/4 cup lard
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 ounces red food colouring (2 x 28 mL bottles)
2 tablespoons cocoa
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
1 cup buttermilk (or substitute: ¾ cup plus 1 tbsp
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Gravy Icing:
4 tablespoons cake flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 cup 5%% light cream (half-and-half works as well)
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla


Red Velvet Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
Line 2 cupcake pans (yields 20-22 cupcakes) with cupcake paper liners.
Cream butter and sugar in an electric stand mixer.
Add eggs one at a time and beat for 30 seconds.
In a small bowl, combine cocoa and red food colouring with a fork or small whisk until completely smooth; add to creamed butter/sugar mixture.
Next, add flour, salt, and buttermilk; mix on low speed only until combined.
Remove mixing bowl from stand mixer; sprinkle with baking soda, vinegar, and vanilla.
Combine gently – do not beat.
Immediately, using an ice cream scoop, spoon the batter into 2 paper-lined cupcake pans, 3/4 full.
Bake approximately 13-15 minutes, or until top springs back when touched and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool cupcakes on wire rack, while preparing the gravy icing.
Gravy Icing:
Whisk flour into light cream, until completely dissolved.
Cook in a saucepan over low-medium heat until thickened, whisking constantly.
Cool completely in a cold water bath, whisking occasionally to prevent lumps from forming.
Cream butter and sugar until extremely fluffy (beat on highest setting for 8-10 minutes).
Add vanilla and cooled flour-cream mixture slowly while beating on low setting.
Beat hard for 5-10 minutes on highest setting until you have achieved the consistency of whipped cream.
When cupcakes have cooled, pipe the icing using a pastry bag or a large, heavy-duty freezer bag (fill the freezer bag with the entire quantity of icing; snip one of the bottom corners with kitchen scissors; suck excess air out of the bag and seal the top; proceed as you would with a pastry bag).




If you’re a fan of red velvet cake, you really must try this recipe. The crumb is incredibly tender and delicate, due to the use of cake flour and to the reaction between the vinegar and baking soda. The level of sweetness is optimum, as the sugar content is perfectly balanced with the tangy notes of the buttermilk and the bitterness and depth of flavour of the cocoa powder. Oh, and the icing….. the icing is ethereal!

I’ve read countless traditional and non-traditional red velvet recipes, and have combined various aspects of them in the following recipe. I found that most red velvet recipes use vegetable oil, which I don’t like to use in baking, so I’ve chosen a hard fat based recipe. I noticed that many traditional Southern red velvet recipes use shortening. The first time I made red velvet cupcakes, I used all butter in a variation of a recipe calling for shortening. Shortly thereafter, I read that the secret to great red velvet texture is to use shortening or lard. I was hesitant to try substituting all lard in my recipe, because butter has a sweeter and superior flavour to lard in baked goods. The second time, I tried substituting lard for half of the butter content in the recipe. They rose better upon baking, and the texture was marginally better. Flavourwise, there wasn’t a detectable difference. Whether you use all butter, or a combination of butter and lard, the results are outstanding….I think I may be splitting hairs over this detail.

I personally love cream cheese, but in order to please all members of my family, I decided to do a buttercream icing. Since seeing gravy icing (also known as American buttercream) prepared on the Food Network, I had been dying to try it. Apparently, it is the authentic icing for red velvet in the South. I’ve tried more traditional French buttercream recipes in the past, and find that many produce an icing that is slightly greasy. The beauty of gravy icing is that the slurry really binds the sugar and butter, and creates an icing that is essentially the texture of a tight whipped cream.


22.0 cupcakes


Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 8:03am



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