I love eating. But more than that, I love cooking, or more precisely, baking. I grew up in a typical north Indian family where the only occasions that warranted a cake were birthdays, for rest of the other festivities and celebrations, we had sweets. I am not saying that I don’t like sweets but I would’ve appreciated if we could have cake more often. Here’s another stereotype – even though my family is predominately non vegetarian, it is also religious which meant that cooking, taking and consuming non-vegeterian food items inside the kitchen was a strict no. Much to my dismay, the definition of ‘non-vegetarian food items’ was wide enough to include eggs! This translated into a blanket ban on baking desserts at home. And when we did once in a blue moon, it used to be my four ingredient sponge cake (which is divine btw and I will share it soon). But how many times can you have the same thing before the boredom gets chronic?
Thankfully I have not put such restrictions on myself and anything can be cooked in my kitchen. Well, except Karela (bitter gourd). Karela intake is restricted to the occasions when we visit home or when my parents are visiting and I have to demonstrate to them that our diet habits are ‘healthy’.
Now that it is settled that my palette desires for other baked goods, let me tell you that red velvet cake/cupcake sits rights at the top of my list of all-time favourite cakes. I bake these more than I should, but what can I do? A girl wants what a girl wants.
If you break it into basic ingredients, a red velvet cake is nothing but a simple vanilla cake with a hint of cocoa and food colouring to give it the rather bold hint of red. The traditional red velvet cake has a cooked roux frosting but the cream cheese frosting is the more preferred version. This may be because it is less time consuming. I am yet to come across a place in Mumbai that sells red velvet with cooked roux frosting. As I prefer it more, I am going to make the roux icing for frosting my cupcakes. I like cream cheese frosting with cakes that contain fruit and are more dense like a carrot, banana or an apple cake. This icing is so airy it definitely upstages the cake!
I know a lot of you must be thinking why go through all this trouble when it is easily available in the market. Well, once you actually do it, you’d know it’s not much trouble and it does give some sort of satisfaction if you accomplish something that looks quite difficult to achieve and tastes so heavenly.
Time to start.
½ Teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
11/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (sieved at least twice)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, softened,
1/2 cup castor sugar,
11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 170°C. Line the mould with cupcake liners.
Stir the flour, cocoa and baking powder in a bowl.
In a separate mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar really fast and vigorously until it turns pale and fluffy.
Add one egg at a time and the last egg should be fully incorporated before adding the next one.
Add the food coloring to the buttermilk.
ALTERNATE adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk into the batter. Repeat this thrice.
Add the vanilla extract. Pour baking soda over vinegar.
Quickly, pour it to your batter, and fold it in.
Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners. Fill them 2/3 of the way.
Bake in your preheated 170°C oven for about 20 minutes. As soon as the toothpick comes out clean, remove the cupcakes. Let them cool completely.
For the frosting:
Whisk the cold milk into a saucepan and sprinkle in the flour (ensure that the milk is cold while you stir in the flour, if you put flour directly in hot milk it’ll result in lumps).
Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Keep cooking until the mixture thickens. Turn off the heat. Put a piece of plastic wrap directly on its surface to prevent a skin from forming. You’d want it to come to room temperature. (Better scrape it into another dish for faster cooling. Also be careful, the utensil is very hot so the plastic wrap may melt.)
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until it is fluffy and creamy.
It will be pale, light, creamy and airy.
Add the cooled flour/milk mixture. It’ll firm up considerably as it cools. (If yours is watery, it means that you didn’t cook it long enough and you can return it to the saucepan and keep cooking it.).
Whip everything for 5 minutes. I would recommend using an electric mixer for this.
This needs to be refrigerated for a while before using, about 15-20 minutes.
Fill in a piping bag and frost the cupcakes!
Don’t finish alone, share with people.
Do let me know how it turns out. If you need any help, please do ask.