July 12, 2009

Red Velvet, if you please

No, this isn't turning into a cooking blog (and yes, I WILL post the zoo photos soon), but last week I made the somewhat grievous error of promising Ben that I would make cupcakes for him to take to work. Obviously it was a moment of temporary insanity, but since I like to keep my promises, tonight I went to work and whipped up a batch of red velvet cupcakes.

I used the Magnolia Bakery Red Velvet Cake recipe that my dear cyberbuddy, Lisa from Daily Fix, passed on to me ages ago. I've made it a few times before now, but never documented the process before...which meant that I also never realized just how dodgy my baking skills really are. Moving on.

Another cast of characters shot, blatantly ripping off paying tribute to The Pioneer Woman:

Green tea tonight, folks, not red wine. Sorry to disappoint. Can't booze up all the time, you know. I also pre-measured the butter. See, I'm learning!

Step 1 and 2: Preheat the oven to 350F/175C degrees. Grease and lightly flour three 9 x 2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottom with waxed paper.

Check and check. Sort of, anyway. Since I was making cupcakes, I just lined my muffin pan with cupcake liners and squirted non-stick cooking spray in each cup to make removing the paper an easier task (elegant and classy? no. effective? yes.). No photos of this, mostly because it's really, really boring.

Step 3: In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside.

Remember how I said that all I had was a pasta strainer? Yeah...

Voila! Sifted flour:


Regular flour, I might add. I have never seen cake flour in Australia. Ever. I'm sure it exists, I've just never seen it in a grocery store where we mere mortals shop. I'm assuming bakeries use it, but I don't know where they get it from. So far, a lack of specialty flour has not made my baked goods explode, so I'm going to keep going with the regular stuff.

Step 4: In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.


Alternate step 4: cream the butter and sugar until you get bored and your arm is tired of hefting your hand-held electric mixer, about 2 minutes. Then hope that dropping 3 minutes won't eff things up and move on to the next step.

Step 5: Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

No happy faces on this brand, sorry. These were on sale. I'm cheap about my eggs.

It should look roughly like this when you're done. I think.

Make sure you take a close up photo of the sugar-butter-egg mixture so you can examine just how closely it resembles tonton guts.

Step 6: In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla, then add the mixture to the batter and beat well.


Step 7: In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk.

There's salt in there, really.

Step 8: Add the buttermilk to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat.

A beater that was not used to overbeat. Overbeating is naughty.

Step 9: In a small bow, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.


Step 10: Divide the batter among the prepared pans. In this case, that meant filling each cupcake paper about 2/3 of the way full.

Make sure you glob some on the tray. It's more authentic that way.

Step 11: Take a moment to admire the gorgeous color of the batter.


Step 12: Bake for 30-40 minutes (or about 20-25 min for cupcakes), or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

Or do what I do and yank the cupcakes out ASAP to cool by themselves on a rack since you only have one muffin tray and you need to get the next batch in the oven, pronto.

See the questionable looking cupcake on the bottom right? That's the result of Ben's "finger test." Turns out we were out of toothpicks because a certain someone who shall remain nameless (but the first three letters of his name are b-e-n) either used them up or managed to cleverly hide them so well that neither of us could find them. So instead, Ben employed the finger test - if you touch the top of a cake and it springs back, it's done. Obviously, these were far from done when that one was poked. Oh, did I mention that he knows this little trick because his family used to own a commercial bakery? Yes. A bakery. And yet I'm the one making cupcakes...

Steps 13 and 14: bake the rest of the cupcakes while admiring how pretty the finished ones are.


While the rest of the cupcakes are baking, mix up the icing, then repeatedly yell at your husband when he keeps swiping some with his grubby finger. The yelling is an integral part of the recipe. It helps make the cupcakes rise.

Step 15: Stay up until midnight or so icing cupcakes and swearing you'll never make a stupid promise like this again. Make sure you include the glacé cherry on top that your husband begged you for.


Step 16: Admire the finished product.


Step 17: Taste test. Just in case.



Magnolia Bakery Red Velvet Cake
3 1/3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (this is about 170g for all the non-Americans out there)
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons red food coloring
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C degrees.
  2. Grease and lightly flour three 9 x 2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottom with waxed paper.
  3. To make the cake: In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.
  5. In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat.
  6. In a small bow, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.
  7. Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes (or about 20-25 min for cupcakes), or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack. Makes one three layer 9-inch cake, or approximately 30 cupcakes.

For the icing, I'm going to give you two options. The first is the one that came with the cake recipe - I'm sure it's delicious, but I prefer cream cheese frosting, so I'm going to add that on the end:

Creamy Vanilla Frosting
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups (4 sticks, or about 450g) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. In a medium-size saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth.
  2. Place over medium heat and , stirring constantly, cook until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to bubble, 10-15 minutes.
  3. Cover with waxed paper placed directly on the surface and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, on the medium high speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy.
  5. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously 3 minutes, until smooth and fluffy.
  6. Add the vanilla and beat well.
  7. Add the cooled milk mixture, and continue to beat on the medium high speed for 5 minutes, until very smooth and noticeably whiter in color.
  8. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes (no less and no longer – set a timer!) Use immediately.
Lisa's Favorite Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup (113g) butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese
4 cups confectioners' sugar (aka icing sugar for the Aussies out there)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Beat softened butter and cream cheese until well blended.
  2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla.
  3. Beat until creamy.
  4. Spread on cooled cake.

6 comments:

  1. Holy mercy, those look good. I love your photo comments too - you're crackin' me up.

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  2. I love dough laden egg-beaters. These look great!

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  3. um, i'm sure the cupcakes are delish, but i just had to say - i *love* your dishes!

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  4. Not that my opinion matters....but I had to mention that I much prefer the wine in the ingredients photo! ;o)

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  5. I love me some red velvet cupcakes...sans cherry (although it looks purrtty) and just a pecan on top instead (or just lots of cream cheese or marscapone frosting)! DELISH! What a good wifey for baking them for DH...um...yeah...I've not done that duty yet and we're going on two years of marriage! LOL! Your pics are rockin'!

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  6. Ok you can be sure that your Linkwithin widget is working cause I came to this post from the pretzel post..still with me? good!

    OMG - I have been a in cupcake frenzy the past few weeks and thought to myself the other day "hey, wonder how I would make the red velvet ones?" and here you are!! *sigh*

    Will definately have a go at these and will make sure you get full credit!!

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