Happy Valentine’s Day Y’all
red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting and heart sprinkles
I love red velvet cake. I love red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting even more. And the proverbial apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Madeleine shares my love for the classic Southern treat. She also assumes that any white frosting must contain cream cheese. Because really, why would you bother with anything less?
Red velvet cake wasn’t something served up in my family, unless it came from a box. The woman who stood in as my grandmother (both of my grandmothers were deceased by the time I was a toddler) was my great aunt Helen. She had a small repertoire of baked goods she’d churn out, including a lovely coconut custard pie and an aptly named “sad cake”. And my mom just wasn’t much for baking in general.
But every year I could count on having at least one slice of that shocking red sandwiched in layers of white (albeit not cream cheese) frosting. One of my neighborhood friends always asked for a red velvet cake for her birthday, and her home-ec instructor mother happily obliged with a lovely version.
The friend and I gradually grew apart, and my red velvet experiences grew fewer and farther between, until I figured out that I could bake myself (silly, I know, but it truly was a revelation).
I’ve tried several recipes over the years, but I think yesterday I fell upon the winner. After comparing a handful of recipes, I decided to try out Magnolia Bakery’s recipe, at least for the cake. Paula Deen uses cream cheese for the frosting, God bless her. The result was Macon meets Manhattan (okay, Paula’s a native of Albany who now lives in Savannah, but I liked the alliteration), and it was delicious. The cake was moist and not too crumbly. The frosting was soft and not too sweet. Can’t say I’m a huge fan of the sprinkles, but my little Valentines wanted them, so there they are.
And now I can wonder which will last longer — the cupcakes or the red food coloring stains on my fingers.
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Creamy Vanilla Icing Epicurious | February 2008
by Allysa Torey of Magnolia Bakery
3 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons red food coloring
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour three 9- by 2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper.
To make the cake: In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.
In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
When the cake has cooled, spread the frosting between the layers, then ice the top and sides of the cake with Creamy Vanilla Frosting .
Epicurious Test-Kitchen Tip:
This recipe also makes 2 dozen cupcakes. Use 2 muffin pans, each with 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups, and line each cup with a paper liner. (There’s no need to grease the cups.) Arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and bake the cupcakes, switching positions of the pans halfway through baking, until a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the pan 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a rack before icing. To ice, mound about 1/4 cup of frosting on top of each cupcake and use an icing spatula to make a swirl on top. If desired, decorate with colored sprinkles.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting (from Paula Deen):
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
Chopped pecans and fresh raspberries or strawberries, for garnish
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.
Garnish with chopped pecans and a fresh raspberry or strawberry (or heart sprinkles for the kids).