Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes - Two Ways

About a month ago I was contacted by the sister of a friend who asked if I would be willing to bake cupcakes for a surprise 40th birthday party she was throwing for her boyfriend!  You want to order cupcakes from me?!  OF COURSE I'M INTERESTED!

Now that that's out of my system...

I (semi) promptly emailed her back, and we got to work ironing out the details.  The most important detail is that the birthday boy's favorite cake is red velvet cake.

I immediately thought of a problem...I don't recall ever having red velvet cake.  So, either I've never had it, or it wasn't worth remembering.
Clearly I've baked lots of cupcakes that I didn't taste prior to baking...and this is generally not a problem.  But in this instance we are talking about someone's all time favorite cake and I don't even have a general idea of what it should taste like!

I set out to do some research and picked two different recipes.  One was from the Brown Eyed Baker and the other from Annie's Eats.  I decided that I would bake both on the same day, using the same frosting, and let the client have a taste test!

I tried to be all cutesy and picked two different liners that were similar but not the same...one was pink polka dots and the other was black polka dots.  Now if you scrolled back up to the top to look at that beautiful picture, you will notice that this didn't work out so well.

Red velvet cupcakes use A LOT of red food coloring.  Red food coloring seeps through the cupcake liners (duh) and changes every cupcake liner into a red cupcake liner (except black)...I figured it out for you...you're welcome!

Clearly, they were still easy to tell apart once baked (thank god!).

These were two very different recipes, in my personal opinion. The Brown Eyed Baker's had more chocolate in the recipe, and were a darker red/brown color. Annie's Eats' recipe produced a really bright red cupcake and had a more subtle chocolate flavor.  Ian and I tasted them both on the day I baked them, and both had a different favorite! 

Luckily, our opinions weren't the ones that mattered! 

I took the cupcakes to work the following day and at noon went to do the taste testing.  Both cupcakes received high marks, but the bright red cupcake from Annie's Eats won the day!

Check back later this week for a follow-up post re: baking my first order!

Red Velvet Cupcakes - makes 24 cupcakes
2½ cups cake flour
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp. (1 oz.) liquid red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar. Beat on medium speed until well blended. 
  4. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners.
  6. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting (from the Cupcake Project) - one recipe should cover 24 cupcakes...but it will be close!
8oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 C unsalted butter, room temperature
2 C powdered sugar (add more if you like your frosting stiffer)
2 tsp vanilla bean paste (I actually used a tablespoon)
  1. Mix cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Gradually mix in powdered sugar until thoroughly combined.
  3. Mix in vanilla bean paste.

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