I had this recipe as part of my agenda but I didn’t think I would execute it quite so soon. Let’s just say I had other plans and far more exciting recipes to accomplish before this one. A red velvet cupcake is not half as fancy as it looks; there I said it. For those of you who go to a bakery and often find yourself going gaga by looking at red velvet cupcakes – let me tell you, you can bake a batch or two blindfolded.
So why did I bake them? More than the baking part, the finished part is fun, the eating part is even more fun. And for me, they bring back a lot of fond memories. Back home, at my workplace, a bunch of us women would share our woes not over drinks, but over cupcakes. If one of us had boy troubles, we would drive down at least a mile or two to buy these cupcakes. If we had accomplished something, say meet a deadline, we would summon for those cupcakes to celebrate. Um, Tuesday? Cupcakes. Yeah, we didn’t actually need a reason. So much so that we had a pact that we would go through a week without cupcakes. Hardly did we stick to it. Anyway, we would all pick a flavour each, bring the big box to our desks and share them among ourselves. And yes, red velvet cupcake was a popular choice.
I may be dangerously close to being melodramatic when I say this but I think it’s the truth – in a time when many of us in that group (you know who you are) were unsure of things and wanted some direction, some hope, these lovely little smidgens helped us. At least we deluded ourselves that it helped us 🙂 I think what really led us to look forward to the next day were the conversations, the laughter, the shoulders that we ever so easily lent to one another during difficult times and of course, the innocent joy of the licking off that luscious icing on the cupcake 🙂
For the cupcakes
- 125 g all purpose flour (1 1/4 cup), sifted
- 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa, sifted
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 150 g caster sugar (3/4 cup)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 175 ml vegetable oil (3/4 cup), canola, safflower etc
- 120 ml butter milk (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 tsp red food colouring, preferably gel
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp vinegar
For the icing
- 115 g cream cheese
- 115 g mascarpone
- 113 g butter
- 60 g confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Makes 12 cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 175 C. Line a 12 muffin tins with wrappers and set aside.
- Sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Mix well and set aside.
- Add the red food colouring to the buttermilk. Mix well and set aside. Don’t be alarmed if the liquid looks bloody. It’s supposed to.
- Now, beat together the eggs and sugar till pale and creamy. Add the oil and beat further for a couple of minutes. Add the vanilla essence and give it a final mix.
- Pour the prepared buttermilk into the egg mixture. Fold well. Now add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Fold well. If you have red, runny batter, you are on the right track.
- Finally, add the baking soda to the vinegar and as it fizzes, pour it into the batter. Mix well.
- Pour your batter into the prepared muffin tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
- Once the cupcakes are done, allow them to cool for about an hour.
- Meanwhile, for the frosting, beat the cream cheese till soft. Add the mascarpone cheese, softened butter and vanilla essence consecutively and beat further. Finally add the confectioner’s sugar and beat for 2-3 minutes until you arrive at a creamy consistency.
- I’m not a great piper myself but this is how you frost your cupcakes. Fit a disposable piping bag with a tip of your choice. Fill the bag with the prepared icing. Hold your piping bag at a 90 degree angle from the cupcake and start from the outer circle of the cupcake and work your way inside. If you find this hard, you can always spoon the cupcakes with icing.