My Favourite Red Velvet Cake Recipe

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Over the years I have made changes to my original Red Velvet Cake recipe so as to suit the ingredients available in my kitchen. Strangely, almost always, the cake inevitably turns out as good or even better with the changes. Some changes I observed include: a spongier more pillowy texture through the addition of corn starch, a more vibrant bright red from a particular brand of red food colouring,  and a richer cocoa flavour from a specific cocoa powder and an extra ingredient. This is exciting as I never know what the final result might be except that I never have to fear less of a cake results as the lack of butter never runs the risk of a failure.

Last year I ended up with a radically different recipe and after following the recipe strictly for several bakes, a beautiful perfect red velvet cake results. Qualities that embody a perfect red velvet cake include: a rich cocoa taste, pillow-like moist sponge cake, and a fresh vibrant red.  The picture above shows an example of the result of this recipe without any frosting. I served this during one of my first Vainilla Cake Club sessions and on the side was a perpetually hot coconut rum sauce. They both went so well together.

After much research, I realised the technique and method involved is equally as important as the recipe itself. Methods such as:

  • adding corn starch to all purpose flour, instead of cake flour, leads to a spongier texture;
  • combining first the red colouring and cocoa powder to form a smooth paste, before adding into the batter, makes  a huge difference and a way of creating a vibrant red cake;
  • a teaspoon of instant coffee granules brings out the cocoa flavour even more;
  • apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar adds more flavour to the cake;
  • Bake King’s Cochineal Red gives the cake the most vibrant fresh red;
  • buttermilk made combining whole fat milk and apple cider vinegar results in an equally beautiful texture without affecting the taste; and
  • dutch processed cocoa powder gives the richest cocoa flavour.

And so without further ado, here is the recipe with detailed instructions:

Red Velvet Cupcakes
(Makes 12 perfect cupcakes or 1 layer cake)

1 1/8 cup all purpose flour
2½ tablespoons cornstarch or corn flour
1 tablespoons unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cups sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
¾ cups vegetable oil
1 large egg
3 tablespoons red food colouring (or 1 bottle Bake King’s Cochineal Red)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup whole fat milk + ½ tbsp white vinegar (mix together and leave aside for 5 minutes to curdle)
¾ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 180oC. Line standard muffin tins or baking pan with paper liners.
  2. Combine red food colouring and cocoa powder to form a smooth paste and set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat together flour, corn flour, sugar and salt.
  4. Slowly add the oil, and beat until well combined and smooth.
  5. Add the egg and beat until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. Add the red cocoa paste and vanilla, and beat until well combined.
  7. Reduce speed to low. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed for 10 seconds.
  8. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes or 45 minutes in the cake pan.
  9. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
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