Red Velvet Cupcakes (The Ones that Started it All)

Hey blog-reading folks!

So here we are for another instalment of Simply Sweet and I'm so glad to have you back, or welcome you for your first time! I've gotten fantastic feedback so far, and I want to thank everyone for the (hopefully continued) support. That being said, let's dive in shall we?

I should mention that this particular post will not have step by step pictures, which I'm sorry about. It's a recipe that I made a while ago when nobody cared about what I was baking, but at least there's a picture of the final product so you can see what you have to aspire to ... haha (but really). Anyway ...

Red Velvet.

There was a time when all this meant to me was fancy theatre seats and holiday dresses that make me sweat just looking at them. But now, my friends, it is so so much more than a sweaty material. Now it means dancing around the kitchen, flour in your hair, belting show tunes and a sugar high that will satisfy in a way that the milkman never could ... for the record I'm not sure where that one came from ... but I digress.

These, my friends, are happy cupcakes. They're just good.

Hey, would this face lie to you?

(this one might)

This, by the way, is not me. For those of you that don't know, this is the Lady of the Lard, the Baroness of Butter, the ... (insert alliterations involving 'fat' here [the substance, not the insult]. if you find a good one, add it to the comments!), Miss Paula Deen herself; she is who this recipe is originally from, with some minor tweaks. If you're counting calories, I would recommend that you stop right now, 'cause we're about to make Jenny Craig cry with this one. But hey, like I said before, these are happy cupcakes ... and you just can't put a price on happiness (or a weight for that matter).

As I was saying, I had no idea what the hell "red velvet" cupcakes were supposed to taste like, because in my books ... that's just not a flavour. But these were actually my first foray into the cupcake world (I like a challenge ... not that these are particularly difficult to make) so despite their terribly ambiguous name, I decided to give them a go. 

I was disappointed to discover that what made them red was food colouring. The alternative "legit" version is made with beets but I believe I speak for a lot of people (not my Polish boyfriend) when I say ... no. So, food colouring it was. 

**This recipe takes up a TON of red food colouring; almost an entire bottle. And while this might sound gross, it isn't, trust me. Have I steered you wrong before?**

**Another thing that the recipe calls for is buttermilk ... about one and a half cups of it. Well, I don't know how much buttermilk you use in your everyday life (maybe it's a lot, I'm not discriminating) but the people that cartoned it (like bottling, but in cartons) and sell it at the grocery store don't seem to cater to the everyday individual (unless of course you work in the fried chicken industry or are filling your pool with buttermilk ... though I hear it does make your skin supple ...). What I'm essentially getting at here (in a seriously rambly roundabout way) is that this is a waste of money and is frankly unnecessary! A little bit of vinegar in milk (I used 2%) is all you need to get the same effect and to save a crap-ton of money and the "coveted" fridge space (especially when you're me and have only a bar fridge to work with)**

As I said, these were my first batch of cupcakes I ever made; the ones that started it all. So I guess I have some attachment to them but despite my outrageous bias, these are frigging good cupcakes.

Little novice baker me (keep in mind this was less than a year ago) took the ingredients out one by one with shaking hands, excited at the prospect of making cakes, but smaller. My first step was making the pseudo buttermilk, and though in theory it is disgusting as you are literally curdling milk ... I felt awesome. I let that sit and started on the rest of the recipe. This being my first time, I was taking no chances; I sifted all of my dried ingredients, mixed them, and then sifted again (this is a little obsessive yeah, but I've never looked back). When both the wet and dry ingredients began to incorporate I was thinking "yeah! I'm a baker!" and when I looked down at the soupy mixture in front of me, I was thinking "yeah! it'll thicken..." and when all of the flour had been incorporated I was thinking "...what have I done?!" This seriously makes the thinnest batter ever, but don't let this scare you off, dear readers. I put the soupy batter into my cupcake liners (albeit it a little messily ... hey I'm no Martha Stewart [thank god]) and placed it into the oven, praying to the cupcake gods that the soup would turn into wonderful fluffy little cakes. Normally, dear readers, if this was any other circumstance and you prayed that your soup would turn into fluffy little cakes, you would probably be heavily disappointed. But not this time! When the timer went off I rushed to the oven (it took 18 minutes for me ... the baking process not the actual getting to the oven) and lo, a miracle had occurred this night. Fluffy little red cakes, perfectly risen (this is where my high opinion of myself began ...). I would have immediately gone to build a shrine in honour of the cupcake gods if it wasn't for two things: 1) I am in fact not insane, and 2) it was time for the frosting!

Seeing as this post is already miles long, I'll keep this brief. Forget the buttermilk, I would BATHE in this frosting. And I probably could have too, seeing as how it makes double what you need for the cupcakes.

**That being said, cut the frosting recipe in half**

When the cupcakes were cooled it was time to frost them. I prepared my first piping bag ever *sniffle* and went to work doing what I thought I had seen on foodtv. Well, it wasn't perfect, but it was close enough, and it was pretty!

This recipe received absolute rave reviews, and why not? The fluffy chocolate-y cake (oops cat's out of the bag. Red velvet is chocolate, only not brown), the creamy sweet and tangy frosting ... holy crap. The success of these cupcakes fuelled my desire to keep on baking, and without them, I wouldn't have realized my true passion, and this blog wouldn't even exist. I owe a lot to these cupcakes, and to all of you for reading my posts. I hope that this awesome relationship between us continues.

Happy Baking!

**I will list the changes that I made before I post the actual recipe. After seriously scouring the reviews of the original recipe, I discovered that these were pretty mandatory. And with these changes, they came out wonderfully, more than once I might add**


- three tablespoons of red food colouring to get the right colour and offset the cocoa
- two TABLESPOONS of cocoa powder (I really wanted to taste it)
- one and a half cups of buttermilk (though instead I used 2% milk with one and a half tablespoons of white vinegar - if doing this, let sit for 10 minutes before use)
- a little over a cup of oil, but less than 1 1/4 (turned out to make the cupcakes moist and delicious, not oily at all)
- definitely cut the amount of icing in half


- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cocoa power
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tablespoon red food colouring
- 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

- 1 pound cream cheese, softened
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups sifted (twice :P) confectioners' sugar
- Chopped pecans and fresh raspberries or strawberries for garnish (**Super optional. So optional I didn't include it)


1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
2) Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers
3) In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food colouring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
4) Divide the batter evenly among the cupcakes tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes (**Really keep an eye on them at around the 18 minute mark, as this is all it took for mine**), turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

1) 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.
2) Garnish with chopped pecans and a fresh raspberry or strawberry. (** Sarah's note: Or, just shove them in your mouth as is and do a happy dance**)


  1. Another option for the Buttermilk... one can purchase Buttermilk Powder at Bulk Barn. It's handy to have around, just mix it with water... and voila!

  2. You are very entertaining to read and make me want to bake (despite a serious lack of patience). And thanks for explaining Red's always been such a mystery... :)



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