I seem to developing a bit of a habit for being very very late to the party with popular foods. It’s not like I’ve not been aware of them, I just always feel like things are probably being over hyped and I don’t need to rush out and try them. I did it with macarons, I did it with avocado, and I did it with red velvet cake. Well this is me officially renouncing my old hipster foodie ways, and saying that actually, sometimes foods that are on-trend, are actually pretty good.
I finally got around to making them a few weeks ago for the afternoon tea we threw for Dave's birthday. We actually did have a party close to his birthday this year, I just completely forgot to share this recipe until now so it's an improvement on last year.
I'd still only eaten red velvet cake once at this point so I did a lot of research before choosing a recipe and honestly, the origins seem to be a bit mysterious. Everyone claims it came from making the cake with beetroot, but if you try and find a beet based recipe now, even ones from top chefs use food colouring as well to get their signature red colour. I also read that they were originally made with ermine icing, not their typical cream cheese but again, this seemed pretty rare. I did actually give the ermine icing a go but the food gods were not smiling upon us (it ended up a sort of powdery curdled milk mess and tasted awful) so I went back to the cheese option.
In the end I combined a few different recipes together because after buying in some proper quality food colouring, there was no way I was going and buying a lot of other complicated ingredients if I didn’t need to. We served these with my chorizo and pesto scones, macarons (which tasted much better than they look in the photos) and a big pot of earl grey for a relatively quick and easy afternoon tea.
Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe
(makes 20 large cupcakes)
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
20g cocoa powder
red food colouring gel or paste (I used sugarflair in christmas red)
2 tsp lemon juice
150g icing sugar
300g cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Beat the caster sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, then whisk in the egg until well combined. Stir in the food colouring - you should only need a tiny amount, then sift in the cocoa powder, baking powder and half the flour. Stir in the milk and lemon juice, then add the rest of the flour, beating until well combined.
Fill cupcake cases 2/3 full with mixture and bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees. Set aside to cool.
To make the icing, beat the butter until soft then slowly add in the cream cheese and icing sugar until thick and smooth. Pipe the icing into your desired pattern or use a knife to spread on top of the cupcakes. Keep in the fridge until you're ready to serve them.