Red Velvet is a much-loved classic cake. These easy red velvet cupcakes are a quick, simple, single serving take on the traditional cake. Paired with my granny's traditional coconut pecan filling or with the more conventional cream cheese frosting, they're sure to be a hit!
What is Red Velvet Cake?
Red velvet cake is essentially a moist lightly chocolatey sponge cake. Traditionally, it gets its colour from a chemical reaction between cocoa powder and vinegar. Modern cocoa no longer turns a vibrant red. While a paste of cocoa powder and vinegar is still part of the recipe, other colouring agents are needed to keep up the red appearance.
Cupcake Making Process
Key Ingredients for Perfect Red Velvet Cake
1. Using Buttermilk or a Buttermilk Substitute
As many classic American cakes, many recipes for red velvet cake mix will call for buttermilk. My recipe relies instead on a buttermilk substitute of soured milk.
Soured milk is easily made through a combination of vinegar and whole milk. In the case of the recipe below, ½ tablespoon of vinegar topped up with whole milk for the remainder of the half cup. This is a super easy alternative to keeping buttermilk around, but the measurements below can also be replaced with buttermilk or yoghurt with similar effect to the overall product.
2. Cake Flour and Cake Flour Substitutes
While it is perfectly possible to make a red velvet cake with plain or all-purpose flour, cake flour is the best for a beautifully light sponge. In the UK, you cannot find cake flour as an ingredient, so a quick substitution is necessary.
A quick substitute for 1 cup of cake flour = ¾ cup plain flour + 2 tablespoon of cornstarch (also known as cornflour). Use these measurements as a ratio if your recipe calls for more or less cake flour.
3. Red Dye
My Granny's southern red velvet cake calls for a whole 2oz bottle of red liquid food colouring. I'm not a great fan of using red dyes, especially in those quantities, so I opt for gel colour and often make my family more of a pink velvet cake. Same great flavour, less chemical! It is also possible to use natural alternatives such as pureed beets.
Toppings for Red Velvet Cupcakes
So you may think that cream cheese frosting is the natural topping to the red velvet cupcake. I don't disagree necessarily! You can find my super simple vanilla bean cream cheese frosting here.
Instead of cream cheese, though, you might prefer the classic southern red velvet filling! Traditional red velvet filling is a coconut pecan based frosting, made using a thickened milk mixture, along with sugar, butter, nuts and coconut. This filling is reminiscent of the frosting associated with a German chocolate cake and pairs well with the lightly chocolate red velvet.
FAQs for Easy Red Velvet Cupcakes
Yes! It is based off of my family's red velvet cake, but scaled to fit a 12-hole cupcake tray. If you'd rather make a cake, the same recipe will make you two 6" rounds, or double the whole recipe to make the traditional three 9" rounds. Baking times will vary a bit based on the pan size.
Yes, you can freeze these cupcakes. I always recommend freezing unfrosted as the icing may sweat on defrosting. Once cool, package the cupcakes in airtight bags or containers and freeze for up to 3 months.
You can freeze the cake for about 3 months or keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 3 days. I'd not recommend refrigerating the cakes undecorated as the refrigerator will dry these out. If you have frosted these with a cream cheese icing or with the recommended coconut pecan filling, these should be kept refrigerated until being consumed.
If you like this recipe, you may also like:
Red Velvet Cupcakes
- 1 cup flour
- 1½ tablespoon cornflour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup butter
- 1 egg
- ½ cup soured milk, buttermilk or yoghurt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ tablespoon vinegar
- ½ tablespoon cocoa powder
- red food colouring
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (170C/155C Fan) and line a cupcake tray with cases.
- In a small bowl, make a paste with the cocoa powder and vinegar. Set this aside.
- In a mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until creamy, light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat to combine.
- Add the cocoa powder paste and beat until combined.
- Sift the cornflour, baking soda, salt and half of the flour into the butter mixture and beat to combine.
- Add the soured milk, beating until just mixed and then sift in the remaining half of the flour, stirring to combine.
- Finally add the vanilla and food colour and lightly stir until fully incorporated and a light red shade.
- Divide the batter evenly amongst the cases and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a central cupcake on the tray comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack.