Sunday, April 29, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

The original Red Velvet cake is most well-known in the United States, from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. It's essentially a light, moist cake, with a touch of cocoa, and has a deep red colour. The original recipe was actually made with a buttercream icing, but in the Southern parts of America, it's made with cream cheese icing. Here in KL, the cream cheese version is most popular, and it became very trendy over the last few years. Almost every cake shop in town, have their own version.

I've been searching for the perfect (or close to perfect) Red Velvet cupcake recipe for awhile now. And came across a butter versus oil debate on the internet. It is better to start with a creaming method of butter and sugar first, or an all-in method with the addition of vegetable oil as the "fat" content?

The hard work was already done for me by a blogger named Baked by Jen, where she had baked the 2 different versions and photographed them as well. She had very interesting results with 2 different tastes and textures, of course. She concluded that the butter-based cake had superior taste, however the oil-based cake had a better crumb and also rose better, with a higher dome.

A few months ago, I decided to try a recipe from my Magnolia bakery cookbook. For those of you who haven't heard of the Magnolia Bakery, it's an old-fashioned cake store in New York, made famous by the Sex and the City series. This was a butter-based version and I thought it would be delicious, given my findings.

The results were quite disappointing, really. I tested it out on the family, and they weren't impressed. The cake itself was dry and when refrigerated, it became even more solid and tasted very bland.

So, determined to give the Red Velvet another go, I went back to the Baked by Jen blog and decided to experiment with her recipe.

Instead of just using butter, or oil, I decided to COMBINE the 2 different fats together, to get the best of both worlds.

So here's the adapted recipe, with my minor change.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes

2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 Tbsp good-quality cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon red gel-paste food colour, or red liquid colour to desired colour

1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp vinegar

Preheat oven to 170C.  Line 2 muffin baking pans with 24 standard size baking cups.

Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.

Place butter and oil and sugar in bowl of electric mixer and beat at medium-speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Dissolve the gel paste into the vanilla. With the mixer on low, add mixture. Add vinegar.

Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape bowl and mix just long enough to combine. 

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 16-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of cupcake comes out with a few crumbs clinging to the toothpick.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then place on cooling rack to cool to room temperature.

Cooling down....waiting...waiting...waiting...
All done! Beautiful light crumb, and also very moist straight out from the refrigerator.

The Red Velvet cupcakes are best served with your favourite cream cheese frosting recipe, once they have been completely cooled. You can spread the icing on with a spatula like what I've done here, or go fancy and pipe it into a swirl. 

Here's my favourite :

250g cream cheese, at room temperature
115g (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
2 - 3 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the butter and cream cheese together till smooth, scraping down sides to ensure everything is incorporated well. Beat for about 3 minutes. Add in vanilla and about 1 cup of icing sugar at a time and continue beating. Taste the icing as you go, until you reach of sweetness that you prefer.

Happy Baking! 


  1. Oil AND butter huh?? Interesting. Am gonna try this... Thanks for the recipe doll! I've tried just with butter, but this looks interesting. Hugs!

  2. @Hawa Qaseh : You're welcome. Please do give it a try, and let me know how it goes! I'd love to hear your opinion!

  3. Hi there! Your cakes look great. I'd love to give them a go myself. Just wondering, how many grams of butter is in half a cup?

    1. Hi Renata, 1/2 cup of butter is 113g. Thanks for stopping by and happy baking :)

  4. I've been looking for a great red velvet recipe, tried Paula Deena's (oil-based) and AllRecipe's (butter-based) RV but the results weren't satisfying :/ Can I know how long should I bake it in a 8-inch cake tin? Gonna give this recipe a try!