Red Velvet Cupcakes are fabulous. A light, chocolatey flavour and a unique velvety texture make these cupcakes something extra special.
Red velvet is also a bit weird. I avoided Red Velvet Cakes for years, because, to be honest, I didn’t really know what it was.
Then, I tried a slice and started working on my own Recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes and absolutely fell in love.
The light chocolate flavour is quite different from anything else, brightly coloured food is always a win, but, let’s face it, it’s the velvety texture, that doesn’t feel anything like the cakes that we are used to that makes Red Velvet something extra special.
This Red velvet cupcakes recipe is easy, delicious, and very very red. A bitesize version of a wonderful treat.
Is Red Velvet a Chocolate Cake?
What are red velvet cupcakes is a common question. Even though Red Velvet is extremely popular, and available all over the world, so many of us still aren’t quite sure what flavour it is. Yeah, it’s red, yeah it’s velvety, but, what does it taste like? What Flavour is Red Velvet Cake?
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Unlike a rich chocolate cake recipe, red velvet doesn’t contain any actual chocolate, just cocoa powder, and not even a huge amount of that.
The flavour is fairly mild but sweet and sticky, perfect with cream cheese icing.
What Makes Red Velvet Cake Different from Normal Cake?
While the mild flavour of red velvet cupcakes is different, it’s the texture of Red Velvet that makes it different from a normal sponge cake.
This incredibly soft, silky texture comes from the frankly quite bizarre ingredients.
A Red velvet recipe might seem a little strange at first glance. Firstly, there’s a lot more than usual.
I’m a big fan of the traditional Victoria sponge recipe with 4, equally weighted ingredients.
This Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe has 11 ingredients, and one of them is vinegar.
But, it works. It’s this combination of ingredients that creates that fabulous Red Velvet texture and contributes to its very redness.
Do You Put Food Colouring in Red Velvet Cupcakes?
Traditional red velvet cakes didn’t have to contain red food colouring. The velvet in the name comes from the wonderful velvety texture, and the red colour came from the chemical reaction between the ingredients.
However, while we still get a bit of a reaction, you have to use a specific kind of unprocessed cocoa powder to get the full-on red colour.
Nowadays we give it a little helping hand to achieve a gorgeous red colour. Without food colouring, chances are your red velvet would be a bit of a brown.
What Kind of Food Colour Should You Use in Red Velvet Cupcakes?
Adding any food colouring won’t do. Cheap supermarket liquid food colouring won’t be enough to dye a dark chocolate sponge.
You’d have to use tons of it to make any difference, which would change the texture of the cake, and give it a chemically flavour.
Why isn’t My Red Velvet Cake Red?
If your red velvet cupcakes aren’t particularly red, or red at all, you probably haven’t used the right colouring.
I use these (affiliate link), but any professional paste or gel type should do the job. If your red velvet still isn’t red, try adding a touch more colouring.
Substitutions for Buttermilk
If you don’t have buttermilk, don’t panic, you can absolutely make Red velvet cakes without buttermilk with a quick substitution.
Add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk and leave it to sour for a few minutes, while you prepare the rest of your recipe for red velvet cupcakes.
What Kind of Vinegar Do You Use in Red Velvet Cake?
I use white wine vinegar for my red velvet cupcakes. If you don’t have white wine vinegar, any white vinegar will do.
Cream Cheese Icing for Red Velvet Cupcakes
Cream cheese is the best Icing for red velvet cupcakes. It just complements the flavour and texture really well, and looks fab!
Cream cheese frosting is fairly similar to buttercream in terms of how you make it. This is the same recipe as I use on my carrot cake, just different quantities.
The big difference is that when you make buttercream you often have to really mix it to get it all to come together and avoid grittiness.
If you over mix a Cream cheese icing recipe it will get sloppy, which is very hard to recover.
Beat the butter and icing sugar until soft, which can take a while, but then just very carefully beat in, or lightly whisk the soft cheese in until there are no big lumps.
It can also help to put your cream cheese icing in the fridge to settle for a while (up to an hour) before piping on to your red velvet cupcakes.
How to Decorate Red Velvet Cupcakes?
I don’t know where it’s come from or why we don’t do it to any other cakes, but most people decorate red velvet cakes, both big and small, by crumbling some of the red velvet sponge over the cream cheese.
It looks great, and the red crumbs really contrast the white cream cheese.
Now to get these crumbs, you’ve got two options.
You can level your cupcakes with a sharp knife or cake leveller (affiliate link) and use this excess from the top to crumble over. This is what I’d do with a larger red velvet cake.
Or, you can take a big bite out of your cupcakes, just to test it out, and use the rest. This is what I do!
Do You Have to Keep Red Velvet Cakes in the Fridge?
Red Velvet cakes themselves don’t need to be kept in the fridge.
But, many people keep cakes topped with cream cheese icing in the fridge, as cream cheese can sour if left out.
In theory, cream cheese icing has enough sugar in it that it shouldn’t sour. But, you may still feel more comfortable keeping your red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese in the fridge.
How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes
My top tips for making red velvet cupcakes are:
- Use good quality food colouring
- Always use full-fat cream cheese
- You can use margarine instead of butter
- Whisk the vinegar, buttermilk, colouring, cocoa, and vanilla in a small jug and add them all together