Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet was the first flavor of cake that I fell in love with.  It’s unique chocolate-y, slightly tart flavor and vivid red color makes it unique against all other cakes.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with red velvet, let me break it down for you.  It’s a vanilla base cake, with just a touch of coco and tastes delightfully tangy and sweet.  It’s dense and moist crumb yields an incredible velvet texture.  Red velvet isn’t just vanilla, or isn’t just chocolate; it’s a wonderful combination of both.

Traditional red velvet cake is paired with a light and wonderful cream cheese frosting, hailing from its Southern roots.  There are actually 2 stories of how red velvet came to be. Some say it comes from the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, while some say it comes from the South.  The New Yorker way to make it, is to dye the batter red and use vinegar to make the red color truly pop.  The Southern way?  The red color comes from beet juice.  Some actually claim that Red Velvet came to be red velvet because of the way chocolate used to be processed.  The chocolate would actually turn a reddish, copper color after reacting with the vinegar in the cake.

To me, it doesn’t really matter where red velvet comes from.  All that matters is how the cake actually tastes and looks.  I’ve tasted quite a variety of disappointing red velvet cakes and cupcakes.  Some are just a muted, ugly burgundy color.  While some are artificially red.  Some red velvet flavors don’t even taste chocolaty at all, and some are just sickeningly sweet and dry, or worse.. bland!

These red velvet cupcakes are just perfect.  The vinegar in the batter makes the red color pop, while the use of cake flour yields a light crumb.  Just enough coco is used to balance between chocolate and vanilla, to meld a perfect combination.


For 24 cupcakes

  • 2 1/4 cups of cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 2 sticks of butter (1/2 a cup) at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoon of liquid red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda


1.   Line 2 cupcake pans with liners, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Sift your cake flour and cocoa into a bowl. Add in baking powder and salt, whisk and set aside.

2.  In a bowl of a stand mixer, or in another bowl with a hand mixer, beat the room temperature butter for about 5 minutes until it gets to a pale, ivory yellow color.  You want the butter to be whipped well, to give the fluffiest batter.

3.  After the butter has been thoroughly whipped, add in your sugar.  Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on a medium high speed.

DSCN8093 DSCN8094

Remember to scrape down the sides! DSCN8095
4.  Next, crack in your eggs one at a time.  Each time you crack your egg, make sure you beat it until the egg and butter mixture turns a pale yellow color, in contrast to the dark yellow color that appears when the egg is first added in.  Be careful not to over beat the eggs and butter at the stage. DSCN8096 DSCN80985.  Pour in the vanilla extract, about beat until combined.


6.  Mix your food coloring and buttermilk in a separate cup.  As you can see, it will look like you murdered someone in that cup. DSCN8100

6.  Reducing your mixer speed to low, add in the flour and buttermilk, alternatively, in 3 batches.  Begin by adding flour, and end with flour.  It is extremely important not to overmix the batter.  As the flour is mixed, the gluten inside of it will start to react as soon as it hits the wet ingredients.  Thus, overmixing yields in a tough and dry cupcake, and no one likes that.  DSCN8101DSCN8102

7.  In the meantime, mix the vinegar and baking soda separately in a small cup or bowl.  As soon as you’ve finished adding in your flour, quickly add the baking soda and vinegar.  Beat it in for about 10 seconds. DSCN8103

And now your batter is finished!


Using an ice cream scoop, quickly scoop the batter into the pan.  Try to work as fast as you can, as the baking soda will start to lose its effectiveness the longer you take to get the cupcakes into the oven. DSCN8116
Bake the cupcakes for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.DSCN8119


Don’t these cupcakes look just delicious?  They’re not too dense, and not too light either.  They spring back perfectly if touched, and they also don’t crust at the top. This recipe is traditional and delicious, and it is also simple to make.  Top them off with a classic cream cheese frosting, or a whipped white chocolate ganache works marvelously as well.  DSCN8125

Comment on how these cupcakes turned out, or if you have any questions.

Happy Baking!

-Kristie xx



4 thoughts on “Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes”

  1. That’s my favorite tag ever: cream cheese frosting. Mmmmmmm….. FVHS is fortunate to have a future Food Network star footin’ around its facilities!!

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