When I first had red velvet cake I thought, “Why?”.  It seemed strange to me to drop so much dye into the batter and I wondered if it altered the taste of the cake at all.  It turns out that the original version did not have dye; a reddish tint was produced during the chemical reaction between the acids and cocoa to reveal the red alkaline found naturally in cocoa.  American bakers saw that the batter turned reddish, and the rest is history.

The earliest version of velvet cake appeared in the 1870’s, describing the cake as a moist, lightly chocolate cake with a fluffy white frosting.  Years later, bakers began to apply beet juice to create a pinkish color.  It wasn’t until the 1950’s in the Waldorf-Astoria hotel that pastry chefs applied a healthy dose of red food coloring to create the bright red version we know today.  It is a distinctly American cake and is well loved throughout the United States, so we came up with a traditional version that hits all the qualifying factors: moist, light, tangy, chocolatey, and of course, red! We topped it with fluffy cream cheese frosting. We hope you enjoy!

 

Red Velvet Cupcakes

 

1 1/3 C AP Flour

1/4 C  Cornstarch

1/2 t baking soda

4 t unsweetened cocoa power

1/4 t salt

1/4 C unsalted butter

1 C sugar

1/2 C oil

2 eggs, yolks and whites separated

2 t vanilla

1/2 t white vinegar

2 T red food coloring

1/2 C buttermilk

 

Frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1/4 C butter

2 C powdered sugar

2 T milk

1 t vanilla

 

Method:

Sift the all purpose flour with the cornstarch.  (Alternatively, you can use 1 1/2 C cake flour instead).  Sift the flour mixture with the baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together.  Add the egg yolks and beat.  Add in the vanilla, vinegar, and food coloring and mix until incorporated.  Add the buttermilk and flour mixture in alternating additions.

Separately, beat the egg whites in a bowl until soft peaks form.  Fold the egg whites into the batter last.  Portion into baking cups and bake in a 350 degree oven for around 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

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For Frosting:  Whip the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.  Mix until incorporated.  If necessary, add more powdered sugar until it is a good piping consistency.

 

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