Sunday, 14 March 2010

Later with Jules: Red Velvet Cupcakes

Oh la la: red cakes xxx

Just as I was thinking it was high time for some midnight baking, March arrived and with it the birthday of Miss Lottie Shaw. More than a good enough excuse to stay up late one Thursday night preparing for the big day. We were to celebrate on a Friday night in Soho, so I felt the need for something exciting. I pulled down the trusty Hummingbird cookbook and what did I find: bright red cupcakes. Fun, pretty, out-of-the-ordinary, just like Lottie.

Now, this is the first time an ingredient such as food colouring has appeared in the Kitchen, the Keston ladies preferring our food au naturel, but these cakes came so highly recommended that I made and exception. Indeed Charlotte, a woman of high standards and healthy food snobbery, raved about them so much when Rachy made them last year that I knew they were worth a try. If they get a Charlotte endorsement, they gotta be good. The girl got taste.

Having bright red cake mixture in your baking bowl at midnight is very exciting. It takes you back to your youth: the more colourful the food the better. For me, it evoked fond memories of sitting in Rachy's mum's kitchen at a young age smothering rich tea biscuits with bright green icing and sweets (post to follow Midnight baking: the early years).

Back to the cakes. While you wait for the little red delights to bake, you make the delicious cream frosting. This just adds to the colour extravaganza: it looks like an ordinary cake, but as you bite through the cream icing you encounter a red surprise.

As these cupcakes are so pretty, I thought it fitting to present them in a box covered in cupcake wrapping paper. Damn, sometimes it good to be a girl.

When handed out to Lottie's lovely friends who had arrived to celebrate her birth, they were a resounding success. This is the real surprise of these cakes: they are delicious! They have an amazing flavour (containing both chocolate and vanilla) and a rich dense texture. Yum.

So, to inject a bit of colour into your baking, go for the red velvet.

  • Red Velvet Cupcakes

    • 150g plain flour
    • 10g cocoa powder
    • Half tsp bicarbonate of soda
    • Half tsp salt
    • 120ml buttermilk
    • 1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
    • Half tsp vanilla extract
    • 20 ml red food colouring (preferably Dr Oetker)
    • 60g butter at room temperature
    • 150g caster sugar
    • 1 large egg

    Cream-cheese frosting

    300g icing sugar, sifted

    50g unsalted butter, at room temperature

    125g cream cheese, cold

    If you want to make big fat american cupcakes, use muffin cases (it makes 12). Or makes about 18 English cupcakes.

    Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3. Line a 12-hole cup cake tin with cases.

    In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, bicarb and a pinch of salt. In a mug, mix the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and red food colouring.

    Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg a little at a time. Mix in a third of the flour mixture, followed by half the buttermilk mixture, then another third of the flour, the rest of the buttermilk and finally the last of the flour mixture.

    Divide the mixture between the paper cases. Bake for 20 minutes, until risen and springy - don't overcook them.

    Cool on a rack.

    When the cupcakes are cool, spoon on the cream cheese frosting:

    Beat the icing sugar and butter together with an electric whisk. Add the cream cheese and beat until incorporated. Continue beating for 5 mins until light and fluffy. Do not overbeat (it will can quickly become runny)


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