Yup, it’s the popular cake choice among the masses, always getting lots of ooohs and ahhs. What is it that makes red velvet so darn popular? Maybe it’s the red color that draws people in, or is it the actual flavor, the not so sweet but with a hint of chocolate thing going on? The velvety texture? I think it might be a bit of everything. This is probably my 6th recipe of red velvet. Every time I search for a recipe, I always google it and try to compare them side by side in a bunch of open windows on my computer — what are the ingredient differences, the measurement differences, the various mixing methods, reviews, etc. Well let me tell you, for red velvet, there are hundreds of recipes out there. Let’s take a look back at a brief history of my relationship with red velvet:
My first attempt ever at Red Velvet (this was years ago). Looks good, but tastes like playdoh – yeah, gross. Proof that you can’t judge a cupcake by its picture alone. I ended up bringing them to church on a Sunday and felt horrified every time someone put it in their mouth. I’d scream at them “Wait, please just throw it away! You don’t have to finish it! Spit it out NOW!” and they would look at me like a crazy woman. I should have just thrown the whole batch away, but nope, there’s this tiny person inside of me that says I must not waste food, even if it tastes like dog food. I can’t even remember which recipe I used for this one, but I’m sure I already trashed it. A couple months later I gathered up the courage to try again:
This is a recipe from Baked that I came across in a Oprah magazine someone left in the lunchroom at work. The magazine ended up coming home with me and this was a success! Of course, I can’t remember all too clearly what it tasted like since it was a while ago and before my blogging days, but I do remember it was well praised. The frosting was a cinnamon cream cheese frosting which really added a flavor kick to it.
Then came this project:
Red Velvet Cheesecake! This one was great too (can you tell my relationship with RV is getting better as time goes on?), and everyone got excited when they cut the cake open to find out it was red velvet layered with white chocolate cheesecake. I can’t take credit for this idea though–it was inspired by Stefanie’s Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory. The red velvet cake was from Martha Stewart - nice and moist, and the White Chocolate Cheesecake recipe was from the Williams-Sonoma Baking Book.
Here’s one of my first fondant cakes with red velvet:
A lot of people aren’t great fans of fondant, but the marshmallow fondant pictured here is the way to go. You have to make it yourself though, so it’s not as convenient as fondant from a tub, and it’s a little softer to work with, but it’s worth it. But I digress… fondant is a whole other story for later. Maybe. I can’t remember where this red velvet cake recipe is from either… sigh. There was also another red velvet cupcake experience I have as a memory in my head, but for that too - I can’t find any pictures on my computer. Then there’s also the recent red velvet wedding cake that I made as well. Good thing I started blogging since I’m pretty sure nobody will believe me without any picture evidence.
Which finally brings me to these Red Velvet Cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. One of the reasons I stuck with Martha Stewart’s Red Velvet for so long is because it’s one of the recipes that uses oil instead of butter. I had heard somewhere on television that the key to a moist red velvet cake is to use oil instead of butter, so I’ve been sticking to oil as my fat of choice. But I came across these from Joy the Baker (I’m a huge fan), and this is her token Red Velvet recipe, so I definitely had to try it and I’m so glad I did! I tucked it in the back of my mind and said I’d make it the next time a red velvet lover’s birthday comes around. Here they are naked:
And guess what, these are moist, without being oily. I am not a fan of oily, how unattractive. Anyway, this scored big time! These were scarfed down by the birthday boy and others as they stayed up all night a couple weeks ago to watch Korea beat Greece in the World Cup. For the frosting, I made a Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting that has become my favorite for red velvet–the cinnamon flavor adds a warm flavor to the frosting, while the cream cheese still stays tangy without being super sweet. A chocolate bar was grated on top, and I was done! I got tons of raves (yessss)!
I so want to eat one right now. Go red!
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
5 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tablespoons red food coloring mixed with 2 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans, or line cupcake pans.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Turn mixer to high and add the eggs. Scrape down the bowl and beat until well incorporated.
In a separate bowl, mix together cocoa, vanilla and red food coloring to make a thick paste. Add to the batter, mixing thoroughly until completely combined. You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter gets color.
Turn mixer to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk. Add half of the flour and salt and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining milk and flour. Beat on high until smooth.
Turn mixer to low and add baking soda and white vinegar. Turn to high and beat a few more minutes.
Spoon batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. For cupcakes, bake at 325 F for 20-25 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Let rest in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from my usual cream cheese frosting, but with cinnamon!
2 blocks cream cheese (two 8oz packages), at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick, 8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-3 cups powdered confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Beat the cream cheese in a mixer until smooth, with the paddle attachment. Add in the butter and beat until smooth. Add in cinnamon (my estimate is about a teaspoon, it might be more. I kept on adding and adding until I liked the flavor, so you might want to just sprinkle it in slowly at first and taste test). Add in the sugar 1 cup at a time, until desired sweetness, and beat until smooth.