Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes - No Quorn Involved!

Ok, so I know this is not from the Quorn Cookbook but hey - this is my blog and I will always bow to requests because it's really nice to be asked actually.

So, for my friend Kelly who gave birth to beautiful baby Maya last week and asked for this recipe, here it is. I found this after trialling about 4 different recipes for the same cakes, I wanted to make red velvets for a friend's wedding and set about perfecting them and this is the final version, an amalgamation of two recipes actually but it works the best.

I have since made these for birthdays, christenings and one emigration party, they are constantly in demand and always seem to be well received. They look pretty dramatic which I think is what draws people to them, here are some pictures of the wedding ones on the stand and then the ones I made with an Australian flag theme for my friend Claire who is moving to Melbourne in December.

Red velvet with vanilla buttercream and heart shaped sugar sprinkles.

Red velvet with blue coloured and normal vanilla buttercream and silver balls.

The box full of Australia Themed Cupcakes.

Now, I know these cupcakes do not particularly fit with the whole healthy eating thing - but everything in moderation I say. Just eat one instead of 3 and every so often it's really not so bad. Anyway, here is the recipe.

Makes 10 large cupcakes or 12 slightly flatter ones.

60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 egg
20g cocoa powder
40ml red food colouring
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk
150g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1½ teaspoons white vinegar

 1) Before you do anything else, put the oven on 170/325 Gas Mark 3 (I have a fan oven and put it on about 150) and line your tin with cupcake cases ready to fill.

2) Make a paste by adding the cocoa and vanilla extract to the red food colouring. I find that using a fork and whisking it together in a jug works best for me, make sure you burst all the little rocks of cocoa that you will get. Put this to one side.

3) Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth, the secret with this recipe is the amount of beating and whisking you do, your arms get a proper workout but for some reason it makes a difference.

4) Slowly add the egg, I beat it first and then tip it in in three goes, beating each time until its completely combined and smooth.

5) Now get your whisk out because you are going to need it, tip the red colouring and cocoa mixture in and whisk for about 2 minutes straight until the whole thing is a very consistent and well mixed colour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and re-whisk if necessary.

6) Put your whisk on the lowest speed possible and slowly pour in half the buttermilk, whisk in for a minute. Then add half the flour and repeat (dont sieve the flour first) repeat with the other half of the buttermilk and flour and whisk again. It should by now be looking like a very smooth and airy mixture.

7) Sprinkle the bicarb of soda across the top of the mixture covering as much area as possible. Now sprinkle the vinegar across the same area and watch it fizz! Grab your trusty whisk and go for it, whisking like a demonised whisking machine until the whole thing is smooth.

8) Now, just when you thought you were done, turn your whisk up as fast as you can bear and whisk for another two minutes.

9) Spoon into the cases so that they are about two thirds full and place in the oven. It sounds utterly mental I know, but my oven cooks them perfectly in exactly 23 minutes although the recipes say 25ish. Experiment with your oven until you know the right time for yours but base it round this.


80g butter (unsalted and room temperature)
250g icing sugar
3 teaspoons of plain/greek yoghurt or milk

The method here is something that has taken years of experimentation and trials and failures to make. I believe there is a god of buttercream and sometimes, if you have pissed them off (how, I do not know) they will make sure your buttercream WILL NOT work.

It will split. It will curdle. It WILL NOT SET. In these cases I find a glass of wine, a deep breath and (in worst case scenarios) a trip to the co-op for Better Crocker are a good solution. But Betty will never taste as good as the real deal. So be calm and try again.

But for me, this set of ingredients and this method does work and generally sets. The first secret is to use proper butter rather than stork as this is thicker and more stable at room temperature.

1) Place the butter in as big a bowl as you have (trust me on this). Tip in ALL of the icing sugar.

2) Take a fork and mash the icing sugar into the butter as much as your arm muscles can bear whilst chanting a prayer to the God of Buttercream (if you like).

3) Once the icing sugar is loosely stuck to the butter, get your whisk back out (no, I am not joking).

4) This is where you will be thankful for a big bowl. Add the yoghurt/milk and then whisk like crazy. Icing sugar will spray up the sides of the bowl but this is why you have done some preparatory mashing, most of it will not. Keep whisking and whisking and after a minute or so, just when you think all is lost, it will come together and go gorgeous and glossy and look like proper buttercream. Which it is. Unless today is not your day as per the God of Buttercream as explained above.

Just a tip, if while whisking it seems to turn to sand, worry not, this is normal and for some reason just seems to happen right before the consistency shifts into a thick creamy texture.

Ta da!

It is at this point you can tint it with colours, if it starts to look too wet and runny add more icing sugar. The dairy element seems to stabilise this version and for me, 9 times out of 10 I get perfect buttercream which will hold its shape when piped onto the top of cupcakes.

Enjoy and please let me know if you have a go at this, it is my favourite and much laboured over recipe.

1 comment:

  1. I forgot to say - 40ml red food colouring is a whole bottle - yep, they will put toddlers on the ceiling so be warned! Also natural food colouring makes them browny red, the bright red you see in photos here is from the full on artificial stuff.