My red velvet heartbreaker – TAKE TWO
After my red velvet cake that collapsed a few weeks ago, I promised to post a recipe and tips when I eventually did make it successfully. Well, I chickened out a little here – I did use Bea’s recipe again but made cupcakes instead. I really am more a cupcake kinda girl and since they were a present to myself to usher in my 30-somethingth year, I figured I’ll bake whatever I want in whatever shape I like!
If you fancy making a large cake instead or even cupcakes as I have, here are Bea’s tips and my observations:
- Use deep cake pans. The cake pan I used for my failed cake was 3 inches deep. I don’t think this was deep enough for the cake to ‘climb’ hence the middle rose but the sides didn’t catch up fast enough resulting in a collapsed cake. Make sure the batter is no more than 2/3 of the way up the side of your cake pan. For my next attempt, I will split the batter into 3 sandwich cake pans which I already have (my husband has banned me from buying another cake pan… for now!) and adjust the baking time accordingly.
- Don’t take the cake out too early. Bea’s recipe says to bake the cake (using one cake pan) for 28-35 minutes, test, and then potentially another 5-10 minutes more. Note that the recipes in the book are tested in a fan-assisted oven. Mine is a fan-assisted oven but was still not quite cooked after 40 minutes. Based on the texture, I’d say it needed an extra 5-7 minutes.
- The buttermilk + bicarbonate of/baking soda + vinegar mixture should be stirred a little when you first combine them in a bowl – watch it grow! This mixture will do the aeration for you so the batter doesn’t require much air beaten into it. Bea said it’s very rare for a buttermilk+bicarb+vinegar cake to collapse – hhmm.. I did something that not many people have done! 😛
- I used natural cocoa powder for the cupcakes. If you’re in London, you can get Hershey’s natural unsweetened cocoa powder from Selfridges. I spent some time searching for natural cocoa powder, perhaps I went to the wrong places and asked the wrong people but no one seemed to understand me when I said I wanted natural cocoa powder as opposed to Dutched cocoa powder. David Lebovitz explains the difference here.
- The combination of acidic vinegar, bicarbonate of/baking soda and the buttermilk changes the colour of cocoa into a more reddish brown. However, the red pigments in cocoa are not as strong in the more alkaline ‘Dutch-processed’ cocoa. If you are using natural cocoa powder, maybe skip the food colouring and let me know how your cakes turn out, I’ll be trying it next time.
- Lastly, if baking a good cake means as much to you as it does to me, don’t feel too bad if your cake/cupcakes don’t turn out right the first couple of times. I noted my mistakes, made some tweaks and voila! Have fun with Scarlett!
These cupcakes were such a hit and I was inordinately proud of getting their texture right. Neither the cake nor the frosting was too sweet, a feature which I love about cakes from Bea’s of Bloomsbury. I love the cookbook so much, I can’t wait to try the other recipes from it. Bea has NOT paid me nor sponsored my copy of her cookbook but I can safely say it’s my best baking cookbook purchase this year – thanks Bea for sharing your recipes with us.
To make your red velvet cupcakes
- 2 eggs
- 225g caster sugar
- 1 ¼ tsp salt
- 250ml sunflower oil (I used rapeseed oil)
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 150ml buttermilk
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of/baking soda
- 2 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 225g plain flour
- 1 ½ tbsp natural cocoa powder (or Dutch processed if necessary)
- ¾ tsp red food colouring paste
- Preheat the oven to 170°C or Gas 5. Line a cupcake tray with cupcake cases.
- Put the eggs, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. While whisking, add the oil in a steady stream until fully combined and the mixture thickens slightly. With my Kitchenaid mixer on speed 2, this took no more than 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- Put the buttermilk, bicarbonate of/baking soda and vinegar in a smaller, separate bowl. The mixture should bubble quite actively and then fade.
- In another bowl, combine the flour and cocoa powder and sift twice.
- Add one third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated. Add half the buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the buttermilk. Finally, add the last third of the flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Add the food colouring last and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. A wooden skewer inserted in the middle of a cupcake should come out with almost no crumbs attached. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
To make the ultimate cream cheese frosting
- 250ml double cream, very cold (Bea’s recipe calls for whipping cream)
- 175g mascarpone
- 175g cream cheese
- 85g icing sugar, sifted
- 2tsp vanilla extract
- Whisk the double cream to stiff peaks. Set aside.
- Put the mascarpone, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract in another bowl and beat until well combined.
- Add one third of the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and beat until combined. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream until thoroughly combined.
- Refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Frosting must always be refrigerated, due to the fragility of whipped cream.
- Pipe the frosting on to your cooled cupcakes. Top with some cake crumbs if desired (I got some crumbs by cutting off the top of a few cupcakes).
Yields 12 large cupcakes or a large cake serving 8-12 persons
Recipe adapted from Tea with Bea