Red Velvet Cupcakes


I still don’t get the appeal of red velvet cake, but other people do – it’s hugely trendy right now – the It-Girl of bakery cake (because when you buy them you don’t see all that bottled red food colouring going in) – and so I posted a recipe for red velvet cupcakes over at Family Kitchen. These have less food colouring than most (it’s not unusual to see a recipe call for an entire bottle) – if you’re thinking beets might do the trick naturally, sadly they don’t – while the batter is a brilliant pink, they turn reddish brown upon baking. Yes, it was a great idea.

Sorry to send you over there for the recipe, but they gave me a regular gig, which means I can do what I love and our electricity stays on. Silver lining: I’ll have something new for you here every day too, even if it’s in the form of a tasty breadcrumb trail.


About Julie

You May Also Like

21 comments on “Red Velvet Cupcakes

  1. Cheryl
    October 11, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    You can also get the fancy gel food colourings. You don’t need nearly as much. And you can buy it “without taste”.

  2. JulieVR
    October 11, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Yeah, I have a bottle of the gel food colouring – I unfortunately haven’t noticed a difference myself! I prefer chocolate cakes so chocolatey that it would overwhelm the red regardless!

  3. Snarky Sister
    October 11, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    I never understood the appeal of red velvet. I find it misleading – it looks like chocolate cake, with no chocolatey goodness. Rip off! That being said, I would eat the cream cheese frosting that normally accompanies it with a spoon.

  4. JRM
    October 12, 2010 at 6:47 am

    I did some research into Red Velvet cakes as I tried to find a recipe that didn’t contain all of the dye. (My daughter experiences a Jekyll/Hyde personality change in the presence of red dye. It’s freaky.) What is being sold as “red velvet” these days has *nothing* to do with the original cake. From what I could find this was originally a Southern recipe that was kind of fun because the interaction between Dutch processed cocoa and the leavening agent make the cake a funky reddish color, while leaving a delicate crumb. But that wasn’t red enough for most modern cooks, so they started dumping mass quantities of dye into a chocolate batter to make it look more red.

    I guess the original frosting was not cream cheese, since that wouldn’t last long in the heat of the South, but a boiled white frosting. I’m torn between authenticity and my love of cream cheese, so I’m thinking of a cream cheese filling with a boiled frosting on top.

    Sorry, a largely off topic post, but for some reason I felt compelled to explain my disgust for the average modern red velvet recipe. I’m going to have to try Julie’s minus the food coloring.

  5. JulieVR
    October 12, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Yes – the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk reveals the red anthocyanin in the cocoa – but more so natural cocoa, I thought, than the modern Dutch-processed. That explains the reddish hue in Devil’s food cakes. You’re right – modern-day Red Velvet cake is made with food colouring, and typically cream cheese frosting, although you could use any kind – boiled white frosting is my favourite! On dark chocolate cake, especially!

  6. sharon
    October 12, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I think this is a good example of food industry practices (done to maximize profit) surplanting everyday home-kitchen practices. Back to the cocoa/acid reaction!

    I like it when you explain why something works.

  7. cupcakeideasforyou
    October 12, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Thank you for the recipe. I am one of those who believe that red velvet cakes are appealing and attractive. I do think it is great in every way. Thanks again!

  8. CathyD
    October 12, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I don’t get them either. But then again I don’t care for sweets in general.

  9. Dahlia
    October 12, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Oh Julie! Have I got a recipe for you! I too never quite understood the appeal of red velvet cakes. But they are popular, and lots of customers at my previous work kept asking for them. So I played around with my recipe for beet cake, and I think i hit the jackpot!
    I’ve blogged about here, I think the pictures show that the cake is quite red enough.

  10. Andi
    October 12, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Simpler than that (and much safer for my diet than baking a whole recipe!), I go to the Avenue Cakery and Bakeshop in Airdrie – whose cupcakes are the rival (and I think superior!) to any of the cupcake specialty joints in Calgary. Their pumpkin truffles are another wonderful treat and I rely on their day old cinnamon buns to form the crusty wonderfulness of truly fantastic fruit bettys. Worth a trip or at least a detour if you are headed north on QEII.

  11. Dahlia
    October 12, 2010 at 9:16 am

    P.S. I forgot to add: You’re absolutely right about the acid and the anthocyanines. Most beet cake recipes do not contain enough acid to preserve the beets’ natural colour, which ends up degenerating on contact with the alkaline baking powder/soda in the oven.
    If you already have a good beet cake recipe, you can tweak it by adding some lemon juice. It should result in a redder cake.

  12. A Canadian Foodie
    October 12, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Beautiful and hilarious. Loved that stuffed plate. How you cook the meal, manage the kids and then take such wonderful pics is mind blowing! You deserve a place in the bloggers hall of fame, for sure, Julie! The dressing sounds like ours…do you add butter and a liquid, as well? I just wrote a post on how to do dressing for my daughter in Palo Alto, and was so surprised that our traditional method was different than so many others. So, I am asking because I am really interested. Your gravy is so dark,too. I have never seen turkey gravy so dark. I want to know how you get it to have that colour. Roast beef gravy I can get really dark effortlessly, but my turkey gravy is a light brown. Delicious, but I love the colour on yours. Everything looks yummy and traditional with a modern twist.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you, and I will hold my breath for your answers.

  13. A Canadian Foodie
    October 12, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Woops – though I was commenting on the turkey dinner… I am with you on “not getting” the red velvet trend. The cake is pretty, but not so tasty. And, with an entire bottle of food colouring, a little scary. I have made my share of them, and guests and students love them. I found a recipe I think is the best to date as the cakes are moist and dense instead of light and fluffy which I prefer for a cake with an indiscernible flavour.

  14. JulieVR
    October 12, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Dahlia – wow, thanks for the tips! I’ve made tons of beet cakes – made another on the weekend – and they’ve never wound up red – even those without any chocolate to mask them! I’ll try the baking soda trick. Thanks!

  15. Laurie in Burnaby
    October 12, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I had someone make a tomato soup cake, not the real tomato soup, but the cheap kind that is glutinous with no descernable tomato flavour. The cake was frosted with cream cheese frosting. It was red, and absolutley delicious. I wish I’d kept in touch with her and found out how to make that cake. I remember it to this day, and I don’t like sweet things and never (voluntarily) eat dessert. (I do eat a little bit of birthday cake, and had to have some pumpkin pie at Halloween because my granddaughter baked it all by herself, but, you know … ) 😉

  16. Natasha
    October 12, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Thanks Julie, maybe I’ll try a red devil “Clifford” cake for Seren’s birthday!

  17. Robyn in Mountain (Ontario that is)
    October 12, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    I’m with you, Julie, red velvet just doesn’t do it for me — yuck! My friend/neighbour brought a box of red velvet cake mix back from her travels to the US, because apparently we don’t sell it here. I had to save it with a can of cherry pie filling. Home made or from a box, I may never be a fan of the stuff.
    Glad to see you had an excellent Thanksgiving. Thanks for always posting something interesting and always fun. Cheers!

  18. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie)
    October 12, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    I’m with you in that I do not get ‘red velvet’. Ick eating all that red food colouring. Don’t get it and don’t want to make ’em. Ate ’em once, when I was in Tennessee last year and still not a convert.

  19. Kindra
    February 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Hey Julie!

    I had remembered you commenting a couple times that you had tried to use beets for a natural Red Velvet Cupcake. I just came across a blog who accomplished it and the science behind why it works. No red food dye! Thought you might be interested:

  20. Lindsay
    February 28, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I am making the Queen of Hearts Red Velvet Cupcakes from your Alice cookbook and cannot see the temperature that you are supposed to cook them at. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.