When I started this blog, I really wanted it to be about the recipes I love. Both new ones and ones that are firm favourites. Red velvet cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting are cupcakes that I make time and time again. They are easily adaptable to being gluten free, and so they work for all sorts of events. I have made them for my sisters wedding, work events and tea parties. They are always popular and people request them every time I am baking for an event.
I first tasted Red Velvet cupcakes on a trip to Chicago several years ago. I was very excited when I found this cute little cupcake shop, Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique
They were all delicious but I was instantly won over by Red Velvet. It had such a light crumb and the vanilla chocolate flavour was familiar without being dull. The red colour added some fun and the slight sharpness of the cake flavour was balanced by the delicious buttery creamy vanilla frosting. My understanding is that cocoa used to contain far more red pigments in the past so the cake would have naturally been made red by the cocoa; now with ’Dutch processed’ cocoa we have to add food colouring (or some people use beetroot juice) to keep the traditional colour.
Shortly after this trip I bought Eat me! after a recommendation by a friend. This is my favourite baking book for originality, fun and recipes that really work. I highly recommend checking out the author Xanthe Milton’s website too. Lots of great ideas. I think the red velvet recipe in this book I the best I have tried. It’s even the cover picture! You can see in the picture how grubby the page for this recipe is from use!
It includes a recipe for traditional cream cheese frosting which I have included here but I have also included icings I like to pair with this cake.
I have labeled this recipe as gluten free, but, of course you can use gluten filled flour if you wish. Gluten free flour can be substituted in a great many recipes and you may wonder why I specifically cited it here. There are two reasons. Firstly with gluten free baking, getting your bakes to rise enough and have a nice light moist crumb can be difficult. Red velvet is like a rising science experiment in a bowl. The use of baking powder and bread soda, with the acid of vinegar and buttermilk (plus the buttermilks moisture adding magic) mean this cake works really well with gluten free flour. The second reason is that I actually think they are lighter with gluten free flour!
While I often like to use specific blends or type of flour that are free from gluten, when it comes to a flour that works well as a substitute in most recipes, my favourite is Doves Farm, Gluten-Free Plain white flour blend.
I have included the method of doing this by hand and my slightly lazier version by stand mixer. I tend to use my stand mixer for this because I abhor getting food colouring on multiple utensils! Of course, the colouring is optional or interchangeable if you fancy a natural looking cake or some purple velvet!
This recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes (Gluten free) with Cream Cheese Frosting works brilliantly to make between 12 – 18 full size cupcakes or about 30 mini ones.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
140 grams plain flour
1 ½ tablespoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon or bread or bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt (I like to use a generous pinch of sea salt)
1 teaspoon vinegar (I generally use balsamic)
½ teaspoon of red food colouring paste (you would needs LOADS of a liquid colouring to get the right colouring)
55 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
170 grams sugar
Cream cheese frosting
110 grams unsalted butter at room temperature 110 grams cream cheese at room temperature
450 grams icing sugar, sifted
½ vanilla pod
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Decorations of your choice
I love the red heart decoration. I have tried many variations but a red case and red heard are my favourites. The ones I use were ordered from Cakes, Cookies and Crafts Shop
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a twelve hole muffin tin or a mini cupcake tray with paper liners.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate, baking soda and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and food colouring until well blended. (When I do it in a stand mixer I don’t combine these wet ingredients. I add the food colouring to the butter and add the buttermilk etc directly to the mix)
Divide the mixture between the paper cases, Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for twenty minutes until springy to the touch (Mini cupcakes take 6 – 8 minutes). Remove and turn cakes out into a wire rack to cool.
To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese until creamy. (Pour off any liquid on the cream cheese before you do this. Make sure the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature or they never get really smooth).
Add the icing sugar and beat until combined. (As you can see in my picture, I cover the mixer with a tea towel to prevent an icing sugar cloud. Split half the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the icing. Add the vanilla extract.
So, on the topic of icing, I am going to level with you. I don’t like butter icing. I make an exception for swiss meringue butter cream, but on the whole I don’t like it. I do like cream cheese frosting, but I find it even nice if you change the cream cheese to butter ratio to 3:1. This is what you’ll see in the picture of the mini cupcakes. Mascarpone is such a luscious cheese and it gives a real sense of luxury if you substitute it for the cream cheese. It doesn’t hold it’s definition as well when piped. This is the icing you’ll see on the picture of ‘full size’ cupcakes. I also use vanilla seed paste to get the beautiful speckled effect and flavour in the icing without the expense.
Icing can be slathered over the tops of these cupcakes or you can pipe it on.
At some point in the future, I will do a few little demos of how I pipe icing, but for now, here is a little information and some pictures on how I decorated my cupcakes.
I used a star shaped nozzle on the mini cupcakes and a plain round nozzle on the full sized ones.
I used sugar pearls, hearts and little flowers on these cupcakes. They look nice plain too I think.
If you’re after gluten free recipes, try out this Almond and Peanut Butter Cookies recipe!