Red Velvet Cupcakes

With time I’ve come to realise I must accept that people will ask me things I really do not want to answer. Things like “are chocolate truffles made of real truffles?” or “isn’t beef stock a cube?”, over the past year or 2 another one that has been added to my list is “can you make red velvet cake?”.

Just like with clothes the food industry goes through fads and trends. Square plates, black plates, serving on stone slates, foams, making funny angular lines with reductions and the classic one of sprinkling chopped parsley around the plate. The latest one is red velvet cake. Its a fashion trend that doesn’t seem too want to die. Bakers and cake makers love it because they can charge insane amounts for a relatively simple cake to make.

The secret to red velvet cake lies in its use of buttermilk as the binding liquid rather than milk or water. Buttermilk is rich in fat and does not completely evaporate like milk or water will during baking. There are many people who’ll tell you their way of creating that rich, dark red/ maroon colour of a good red velvet cake (badly made cakes look a dirty brownish red colour). There isn’t a specific correct way but I’ve found that experimenting with beetroot and acids works best. By making a syrup with the water left after bowling beetroot and then adding an acid (such as yoghurt) to maintain that vivid red colour works wonders.

As I mentioned in my first post, cooking is all about playing around. Fiddle as much as you like. If fiddling isn’t for you…then here’s a recipe I’ve found works.

(P.s. You make beetroot puree by grating raw beetroot on the fine side of the grater.)


Makes two 20cm cakes or 24 cupcakes

2-1/2 cups cake flour (260 g)
3 tbsp. NATURAL cocoa powder (NOT dutch processed or dark)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup butter (225 g)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups white sugar (500 g)
4 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (125 mL)
1/2 cup plain yogurt (125 g)
1/2 cup to 1 cup  beetroot puree (from raw beetroot) (100 to 200 g)
1/2 cup  raspberry juice (from frozen or fresh raspberries) (125 mL)
2 tbsp. white vinegar
2 tbsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 175 C. Grease two 20cm cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper OR line cupcake tins with paper liners.

Prepare beetroot puree and raspberry juice beforehand. Grate raw beetroot and then puree it in food processor to as fine a texture as possible (adding water if necessary.) You don’t want any chunks, otherwise you might get a mouthful of beetroot while eating the cake. The colour of the cake will also be best with the finest texture of beet puree.
For the raspberry juice, heat up raspberries in microwave until they become mushy. Strain to remove seeds.

Sift together dry ingredients and set aside.

Cream together butter, vanilla, and sugar.

Beat in eggs, one at a time.

In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk and yogurt. Whisk in the beetroot puree and the raspberry juice. Stir in the vinegar and lemon juice.

Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients to the butter/egg mixture, mixing until combined.

Pour batter into the prepared tins. Bake cakes for 25-35 minutes (18-22min for cupcakes) or until toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan, and then completely on a wire rack.

Decorate with cream cheese icing.

Chef Lesego

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