Monday, 29 October 2012

Red Velvet Cupakes

I stole this photo- but don't sue me! It can found here:
Well, I tried baking again. After the previous cupcake disaster, I thought I swore it off forever. In fact, once you saw this was a dessert recipe, you probably thought to yourself, “Well, I won’t be trusting her again. I’ll skip this recipe and wait for the next one.”

I wouldn’t blame you for that thinking. Frankly, I hardly trusted myself. And when I offered people a cupcake, I could see the fear in their eyes. But! They turned out well. The frosting was a bit of an issue, but we’ll talk about that later. There are no photos, because the sheer anxiety of baking was enough of an issue and I couldn’t then deal with pretty pictures.

Here was my secret for this recipe. I actually took my mother’s advice and took out all the ingredients first and made sure I had enough of everything. Then I took the time to let the butter fully come to room temperature so that there weren’t globs and chucks of butter in the middle of the cupcakes. (As a side note, this also caused my dog to eat a pound of butter, and then be sick. I’m still airing out my house.)

Once I got out to the store and bought a replacement pound of butter, I buckled down and got serious. No music, no TV, no texting. Only serious concentrating on measurements.

Most of the recipes I found called for buttermilk, which I of course had none of, and didn’t want to buy a whole carton for only a cup. I’ve had this trouble with my scone recipe before, but now I know that making cupcakes and scones in the same week (or same milk expiration period) is a good idea. I did find one recipe that said you can make your own buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar to milk and letting it stand for 10 minutes, but I have to research the science of that further before I attempt it. To me, that just sounds like a curdled, sour, mess- but who knows. I will try it one day and let you know.

What I did have a lot of was sour cream, because I wanted that for potato pancakes the other day. I found a recipe which called for a cup of sour cream instead of buttermilk, and that suited me just fine. For the life of me, I cannot find that recipe now though. It’s like I dreamed it or something. But I did find a similar one here:

You need:
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • A bottle of food colouring
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Let me just take a moment here with this ingredient list and tell you something. They are serious when they say a bottle of food colouring. I used half a bottle because a whole bottle seemed frivolous, and also, can all that red dye #7 be good for you?

Baking seems to really go against my grain, because I still refuse to follow the directions exactly, despite my numerous misfires for not following the directions. Not using an entire bottle of food colouring means your cupcakes will not be “red” velvet. They will be brown or black velvet, as mine were. At least this does not affect the taste or texture of the cupcakes, so that is fine.

This is part where you need to seriously follow the directions, so you don’t over mix the batter and end up with hockey pucks. First, preheat your oven to 350°. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.

 Blend the butter and sugar together in a bowl until fluffy. Then add in eggs, one at a time. Add your sour cream, vanilla, milk and food colouring. (The whole bottle if you want to see red cakes. Seriously.)

Gradually add your flour mixture to the wet ingredients, until just blended. This is where they say, “Do not over mix.” And that would be true. I don’t think they give it enough punch in recipes though. It ought to be in bold and underlined or something.

Put the batter in the cups and bake for 20 minutes. Or until you can smell them and they smell done. Let them cool on a rack completely. Again, do not put them in the freezer as I once did in an attempt to cool them down. Just be patient.

Your frosting is up to you. I used a buttercream recipe, which you can find in the previous cupcake recipe. Where I went awry this time was I made the frosting, put it in the fridge overnight, and then had no patience the next day for it to come back to room temp, so it became a slightly strange texture. It tasted okay, but sadly they were not nearly photogenic enough for this blog.

This recipe also makes about 24-30 cupcakes. That is an excess of cupcakes if you are just one person like me. You will have to give them away, but I trust that yours will be much more aesthetically pleasing than mine, so you won’t have any trouble doing that at all!  

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