Red velvet cupcakes

Red velvet cupcakes dress up the holidays.

The Pastry Chef's Baking
Red velvet cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting and festive sprinkles.

'Tis the season of red velvet. I've been hankering for a new red-velvet-something recipe and this one fit the bill.

I got it from the King Arthur Flour holiday preview catalog as I'm on their mailing list and I like trying out their recipes. The downside of using one of their catalog recipes, however, is it almost always calls for an ingredient found only or mostly on their website – it is a product catalog for a reason. However, usually the more specialized ingredients are optional so I typically do without it or substitute something else. In this case, I used red food coloring for the "red velvet flavor" and skipped the cake enhancer.
 I had the taste test cupcake while it was still warm from the oven and unfrosted. Almost needless to say, it was delicious. The texture was soft and it was moist.  You almost can't not like a warm cupcake. The true taste test, however, is when the cupcake is at room temperature. It was still good but a bit more dense since I probably underbaked it slightly in my abhorrence of dry, overbaked cupcakes. I still haven't mastered the art of a perfect cupcake. I like the texture of Sprinkles cupcakes (their red velvet is one of my favorites, along with their banana, pumpkin, orange ... actually, I think I like all their flavors except the chocolate one) but mine don't come out as light in texture, no matter which recipe I try.  I don't think it's necessarily the recipe but my timing on when I take the cupcakes out of the oven. Haven't conquered that trick yet.

I made these for some friends and instead of using the standard cupcake liners, I made them in the mini panettone molds that I ordered from (of course) Amazon. I love using these molds. They're stiff enough that you can pour the batter in and bake them on a baking sheet, no muffin tin needed. Plus they're just cuter than cute. The only downside is if you fill them enough to bake cupcakes to the top, they'll be bigger than a regular cupcake.  Oh, did I say that was a downside?

Red velvet cupcakes
From King Arthur's Flour

Yield: 24 cupcakes or two 9-inch round layers

1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (1-3/4 ounces) vegetable oil
1-3/4 cups (12-1/4 ounces) granulated sugar, superfine preferred
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons red velvet flavor (I used red food coloring)
1 tablespoon cake enhancer, optional
2 large eggs
3 cups (12 ounces) cake flour, sifted
1/4 cup (3/4 ounce) Dutch process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake papers into two 12-cup muffin pans or lightly grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans (to make a layer cake).

Mix the butter, oil, sugar, salt, color, flavor, and cake enhancer, beating until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, and baking soda. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the creamed mixture, one third at a time, beating well after each addition.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, and bake the cupcakes for about 18-21 minutes, or the cake for 26-28 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven, cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes, then turn out of the pans to cool on the rack.

For the cream cheese frosting recipe, click here.

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