Red and White

For Chelsea's showers last weekend, I made two kinds of cupcakes: vanilla with vanilla buttercream, and red velvet with a cream-cheese buttercream.  I'm going to share the recipes here even though I will firmly declare that I am not a fan of red velvet.  It's not chocolate; it's not vanilla.  What good is that to me?  It is beautiful, so I probably will make it again just for the great red cake, and those who were red velvet lovers said this was a fantastic recipe.  The vanilla cake, on the other hand, is delicious, and I thank Kelly for her perfect yellow cake quest.  Both of these recipes come from America's Test Kitchen. 

Red Velvet Cupcakes

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons
natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
2 tablespoons red food coloring
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
Frosting *I halved this recipe for the cupcakes!
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt
For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans OR line two cupcake pans.  This recipe made about 18 cupcakes.  Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and eggs in large measuring cup. Sift cocoa and mix with food coloring in small bowl until a smooth paste forms.  (Make sure it is smooth!  Lumps don't come out when you mix the batter.)
With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary. Add one-third of flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add half of buttermilk mixture and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl as necessary and repeat with half of remaining flour mixture, remaining buttermilk mixture, and finally remaining flour mixture. Scrape down bowl, add cocoa mixture, and beat on medium speed until completely incorporated, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, give batter final stir. To make cakes: Scrape into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. To make cupcakes: Scoop batter into lined cupcake tins (makes about 18) and bake for 15 minutes.  Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.
For the frosting: With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Beat in vanilla and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
4 Large eggs
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
2 Teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 Cups Cake Flour
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoons Salt
1/2 lb. Butter, softened and cut into 8 pieces.

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease two 9-inch cake pans with butter and cover pan bottoms with rounds of parchment. Grease parchment rounds and dust with flour, and tap out excess.

2. Beat eggs, milk, and vanilla with fork in small bowl; measure out 1 cup of this mixture and set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix on lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds. With mixer still running at lowest speed, add butter one piece at a time, mix until butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and pebbly, with pieces about the size of peas, 30-40 seconds after all butter is added. Add reserved 1 cup of egg mixture and mix at lowest speed until incorporated, 5-10 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add remaining egg mixture in slow steady stream, about 30 seconds. Stop mixture and scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Beat on medium-high until thoroughly combined and batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds longer.

3. For cakes: Divide batter equally between prepared cake pans; spread to sides of pan and smooth with rubber spatula. Bake until cake tops are light golden and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. For cupcakes: Scoop into lined cupcake tins (makes about 2 dozen) and bake 15 minutes.  Cool on rack 10 minutes.  Frost when cooled!

*I used the flour buttercream frosting I posted a few weeks ago.  Here it is again, with a few changes that made these extra sweet:

Flour Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks butter, very soft
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup fine granulated sugar
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 t vanilla

1.  Over low to med high heat on the stove, carefully and consistently mix together the flour and milk.  You want to do this by sifting in your flour because you don't want any lumps!  In a few minutes, it will come together and look like glue.  If it's not coming together, raise the heat a bit.  Also, it will thicken slightly as it cools.

2. Let it cool, whisking occasionally so it doesn't stick to the pan.  You really need a good hour for it to cool.  You can do this step early in the day and forget about it until you're ready to work on the rest.

3.  With the mixer, beat butter until smooth and creamy.  Add granulated sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add cooled milk/flour mixture and beat until thick and creamy, five to seven minutes or so.  (The beating helps the sugar dissolve.)

4.  Taste it.  I find I like mine a bit sweeter, so here is where I start adding in powdered sugar.  Start with a cup, then add more if you like it sweeter.  You can also add in cocoa powder at this point to make it a chocolate frosting, which is also delicious.

4.  Add 1 t vanilla (or other flavoring of choice -- almond, espresso, orange, etc.)

Note: This frosting may be slightly grainy at first, but the sugar dissolves quickly.  If possible, make it a couple hours before frosting, so that the sugar has time to dissolve.


  1. mmmm...i might have to try! i also am not a fan of red velvet (hate it when you go to weddings and that is the only cake flavor!) so will probably skip that one but the vanilla - yes please!


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