hummingbird bakery's red velvet cupcake

Me. Baking red velvet cupcakes. Are you kidding?? I mean honestly, if you’d told me a year ago, wait scratch that, if you’d told me three months ago that I would be creating from scratch painfully scrumptious and most adorable little red velvet cupcakes, I would have probably gagged on my vitamin water (orange+orange, c+calcium, I don’t know why I’m plugging vitamin water but yum, it’s my current favourite thing) and possibly made a mess of me. And you.

Three months ago, I didn’t even own a mixing bowl.

But stranger things have happened. From my first foray into baking, straight into some hiccups which were quickly frosted over with vanilla butter cream, and my very new crazy awesome Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, I’m now a total pro at uh… at least at removing the whisky bits from my electric mixer because trust me, that one took me quite a while to figure out.

So Sunday morning sees me in the kitchen, surrounded by a myriad of ingredients (white wine vinegar? why?) amidst an icing sugar A-bomb. Yeh, don’t ask, it was messy. Several hundred wet wipes later, we are back on track. As usual, I follow the instructions to a tee because lord knows that when it comes to baking, I have the confidence of a pimply 14 year old boy. A smelly one.

Despite being somewhat longwinded, the instructions are fairly clear and I don’t change a thing. I even use a whole half a bottle of red food colouring (one way ticket to food colouring hell), which by the way completely vitoes my angst-ridden internal debate over whether or not I should have added the two whole drops to my choc mint cheesecake.

Alas, goodness comes undone again. Why ever be good in the first place? 

red velvet cupcakes

Anyway the baking was phenomenally fun, especially with my very new, very cool cupcake cups from Charmaine. I’d baked, cooled and frosted my dozen (plus three mini) cupcakes when the real challenge presented itself smack in my Sunday morning face. Uh-oh, they don’t tell me how to do the crumbly red sprinkles atop each cupcake. Dammit. DAMMIT.

I thought for a minute. Or two or ten. And I had an idea. I had to improvise (which to me, a near baking virgin, is like waaaait a minute what do you think happens if I stick the wet cable in the power socket? Should we try it? Should we? Should we?). Who knew what was going to happen, but I didn’t think death by electrocution was on the cards, so I went ahead and sacrificed one of my mini cupcakes. I crumbled him into a bazillion little pieces, said a prayer, and sprinkled his remains over the top of the remaining cupcakes.

There is pride in death, my friend.

He made my cupcakes look so fawking awesome I wanted to cry. 

(I have to say “fawking awesome” like a South African because we’ve just seen District 9, and omg go and fawking see it, it’s fawking great)

ps: By the way, it’s also National Cupcake Week this week but who am I kidding, as if I needed an excuse to do this…

pps: Just a note about the cream cheese frosting recipe. I found that the below proportions made enough for 24 cupcakes (even though the book says it’s for 12) so unless you’d like to experience death-by-frosting (actually, not a bad way to go when you think about it), I’d cut the quantity by half.

Red velvet cupcake
60grams unsalted butter (at room temperature)
150grams caster sugar
1 egg
10grams cocoa powder
20mL red food colouring
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
120mL buttermilk
150grams plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Cream Cheese Frosting:
300grams icing sugar, sifted
50grams unsalted butter (at room temperature)
125grams cream cheese, cold
a 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with cupcake cases
  1. Preheat oven to 170°C/325°F (Gas 3).
  2. Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat on a medium speed with an electric whisk until light and fluffy and well mixed.
  3. Turn the mixer up to high speed, slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a thick dark paste.
  5. Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until everything is combined and coloured (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula).
  6. Turn the mixer down to a slow speed and add half the buttermilk. Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour and beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added.
  7. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until you have a smooth even mixture.
  8. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes.
  9. Spoon the mixture into the cases until 2/3 full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to slightly cool in the tray before removing to wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. When cupcakes are cool, spoon the cream cheese frosting on top.

Cream cheese frosting:

  1. Beat the icing sugar and butter together with an electric mixer. on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
  2. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed.
  3. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.
Makes 12 cupcakes

29 Thoughts on ““fawking awesome” red velvet cupcakes (and death by frosting)

  1. Love red velvet cupcakes, they always look so shocking! Yours look lovely. Red velvet sponge always reminds me of the crazy armadillo cake in Steel Magnolias film.

  2. Superb! If the brownie from the same cookbook was anything to go by, then these must taste amazing. G is still very impressed!

  3. the funny thing is that when i made my favorite red velvet cake recipe (from Sylvia Woods of Sylvia’s in Harlem, NYC), I always DOUBLE the cream cheese frosting recipe because I love it so much…

  4. Graphic Foodie: I have no idea what the crazy armadillo cake from Steel Magnolias looks like, although I’m sure I’ve seen the film! Sounds delicious though 🙂

    Helen: One and the same Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. Someone said they had awful reviews on Amazon, but my first two experiences have been really good! I’ll make G something special again next time!

    justcooknyc: Oh wow you should totally try this recipe then, I had to.. brace yourself, I had to throw out some left over frosting! 🙁

  5. yummm… you are skilled girl! Okay when you go to LA, you MUST try the red velvet cupcakes (and okay, ALL their flavours) at Sprinkles – divine!

  6. I also loved District 9! Got a little headache though, haha. South African accents rock!

    And those cupcakes look yummmmmm!

    xox Sarah

  7. I literally just finished baking the cupcakes from the same recipe but mine look terrible!! they’re nowhere near as dark as they should be. I followed the quantities of ingredients to the letter… but they look pink and loose rather than dark red and dense like yours. anyway, well done! yours look amazing!

  8. mel c: oh YES Sprinkles is definitely on my to-eat list, I can’t wait. Remember Sparkles in Surry Hills? What a crack up that was! 😀

    Sarah: Haha you should come work with me – South African company, LOTS of South African accents around 🙂

    Cat: a fellow Cat! Hello 🙂 Awww shame yours didn’t out quite right. To be perfectly honest I think I accidentally tipped too much red colouring in, hence the GLOWING redness. As for the dense (moist?) I dunno, I followed the recipe exactly too, weird? Probably beginners luck for me!

  9. i want this! i want it noooooww!!!

  10. my beater only got 3 speed, i dun got medium slow, medium fast 😛

  11. Hi,
    Interesting, I`ll quote it on my site later.

  12. Ying: Um.. hmmm I am not nearly expert enough to figure what to do with only three speed settings. Maybe buy a new one. Yeh. 🙂

  13. As someone who was a taster of the cupcakes, I must say the picture does not do justice. These cupcakes were absolutely amazing!! Moist and scrumptious, they went perfect with morning coffee… MMMMMM!!!

  14. David: Ah, glad you like them. I wasn’t sure if you’d eat them with you being healthy and all but very happy that the cupcake found a home in your tummy 😉

  15. Hi…
    Thank you for sharing such a nice recipe. I would love this item. I am giving a party to my friends this weekend at my farmhouse. I was wondering about some new item to treat my friends with. I will surely try this and let you know.

  16. angelesque on October 21, 2009 at 2:12 pm said:

    The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook is now in my life too – I made the red velvet cupcakes a week ago and MY GOD they were good!! Amazed I didn’t wreck my clothes making them – that half bottle of red colouring turned my mixture into a dangerous weapon. Is it wrong that I found the quantity of frosting pretty perfect? oops 🙂

  17. appetitzugler: I hope the cupcakes were a hit for you!

    angelesque: LOL the red food colouring is insane, isn’t it? Everything I used was stained red for weeks! And erm, no of course not LOL… go frosting! x

  18. I am very new to baking as well, or at least from scratch. I just recently made a red velvet cake and a chocolate cake. The chocolate cake was the most moist cake I had every eaten. It was an Ina Garden cake from food network, she put 1 cup of freshly brewed coffee into it. You should try it, it’s on the food network website. I was certainly plesantly surprised.

    • Ooooh that’s interesting – does it then taste like a mocha cake though, with coffee flavour coming through? Sounds like it would be VERY moist and delicious!

  19. Hey just wondering what is the red stuff you have put on top of the cream cheese frosting as decoration?

    • Hi Jess, that’s just crumbled cupcake – I sacrificed one of my mini cupcakes and crumbled it, sprinkling the crumble on top of the others 🙂

  20. i love to eat cakes and bake them too that is why i am always on the lookout for cake recipes*,.

  21. What do you decorate them with? It looks great. it looks like grated chocolate, but how do you get it red?

  22. Did you use the Dr Oetker red food colouring? Any ideas if that is not available?

  23. Gillian on October 18, 2011 at 3:57 am said:

    Silver Spoon Red Food Colouring works

  24. Kye Lin on January 10, 2012 at 5:12 am said:

    Hello!Just wondering,if I want to use this recipe to make a simple round cake,should I double the ingredients(which I think will be too much) or just some of it?Cause I made the cupcakes before and yes,it was a hit and my friends are always asking for more.So glad to have found your recipe!:)

  25. Hi there!

    Fab cakes! We’ve also got a great recipe for red velvet cupcakes on our website. There’s also some other great recipes that are definitely worth having a browse through.

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