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So I have been intrigued about red velvet cake for a little while now. In my online trawling I kept coming across artful photographs of this bright red layer cake with white frosting. Some mid afternoon browsing of Sugadeux’s website turned my mild interest into a fully fledged craving. As always, the issue for me is the wheat-free factor, so rather than indulging in one of Sugadeaux’s beautiful creations, I had to have a crack at making them myself.

Red velvet cake is a light chocolate cake traditionally served with a creamy white frosting. Apparently the signature red colour of the cake is because in the past, the unprocessed cocoa used in the cake turned a red colour when combined with the milk. Today, it’s all food colouring:


So where to start? Google naturally and my search for “best red velvet cupcake recipe” yielded positive results from a site aptly named best cupcake recipes. I used the red velvet recipe as a basis and tweaked it slightly. I separately found a recipe for cream cheese frosting that is suitable for piping and altered that recipe to suit my tastes (I find American recipes can be too sweet for me).

The result? It was a light and airy cake with a subtle chocolate flavour. The cream cheese icing is the absolute hero here – creamy and delicious. Get to making these pronto!!


Red velvet cupcake recipe
(adapted from best cupcake recipes)

Makes approximately 20 regular sized cupcakes (I made 12 regular and about 16 mini cupcakes)

275g sifted plain flour (or 330g of spelt flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
red food coloring (how much you need will depend on how strong your colouring is, we used about 40ml of Queen food colouring. The Wilton gel food colouring I used in making the fire engine cake was much stronger)
115g unsalted butter, softened
340g sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
240ml buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking soda / bicarb soda

  • Preheat oven to 350F/180C degrees.
  • Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  • Sift the cake flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder with a fork to form a smoothe paste. If you are using a concentrated food colouring you will need to add a little bit of water to help the cocoa form a paste. If you are unsure about how much colouring is appropriate, hold back and you can always add some more in later.
  • In an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the vanilla essence and the red cocoa paste.
  • Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of the flour mixture, then the remainder of the buttermilk. Add the end of the flour mixture and beat until well combined.
  • In a small, deep bowl, mix vinegar or lemon with the baking soda/bicarb soda. The mixture will froth.  Add the mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine.
  • Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners and fill until they are about 3/4 full.
  • Bake for approximately 20 minutes for the large cupcakes (and about 12 for the mini cupcakes), rotating the pans halfway through.
  • Cool the cupcakes in their tins then transfer to a wire rack and  to cool completely before frosting.


Cream cheese frosting

205g cream cheese, cold
140g butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
180g icing sugar/confectioners’ sugar, sifted

  • Using an electic mixer, mix the cream cheese and butter until creamy and fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla and icing sugar and mix until combined.
  • The frosting should be thick enough to pipe, if it is too thin, add additional cream cheese (softened) or place in the fridge until it firms up.


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9 Responses to “Red velvet cupcakes: my new addiction”

  1. Anna says:

    Yum! I have very fond memories of making red velvet cupcakes – whilst drunk with my housemates years ago. It took us about 4 hours and we got mess and cupcake batter all over the kitchen. Our recipe was in imperial measurement and we didn’t have a conversion table or the internet to look it up, so we just guessed. We didn’t have a electric mixer to make the icing so we just poured all the ingredients into a plastic bag and squished it with our hands until frothy!

    Quick question: Where do you get your spelt flour? I love spelt flour and have been buying it from an Indian grocery store at the Preston market. The only problem is it has a faint curry smell from being around all those spices, which does not make it good for sweet baking!

  2. Emily says:

    I love the image of a couple of boozy people tearing around the kitchen with red food colouring in hand! I guess you wouldn’t have been too concerned about adding so much colouring to the cake to get it to the right colour! And mixing the frosting in a bag is gold!!

    I usually buy my spelt flour from Organic Wholefoods in Collingwood (mostly because that’s near my house). I have also bought it from the Vic market before, but it is incredibly expensive there (like $14 a kilo expensive!). I have recently noticed that my Safeway (Smith St) is also selling it. Spelt is often expensive because it is ‘stone ground’ or ‘organic’. The best value spelt I ever had was when my dad managed to buy me a 5 kg bag of non-organic spelt, from somewhere in Kyneton!

    As a general rule with spelt baking to convert recipes I add 20% more flour and often reduce the baking powder slightly…

  3. Ellie says:

    I love red velvet cupcakes too. It never goes out of fashion :p

  4. Megan says:

    Aw! I love red velvet cupcakes too! I’m actually planning on making those this weekend. I never got them quite that bright red whenever I do them. And I know red velvet + cream cheese frosting is a must. But I could never get my cream cheese frosting stiff enough. I swear I don’t know what I do wrong.

  5. Luke says:

    Wow – the way youve done the icing here looks amazing !! These red velvet cupcakes are so “kool” right now – you can’t get near the shops in london and NY, so was surprised to hear that the signature ingredient was red food colouring! Was even more surprised that you chose to use red colouring, rather than attempting the old skool way with un processed cocoa. Shame shame.

  6. Anna says:

    Oh golly! That spelt flour is VERY expensive. I’m sticking to $5 a kilo at the Indian grocery at the Preston Market – whether it smells like spices or not!

  7. Joelle says:


    I just made those. They did not turn out well. I made 20 of them, but ended with 20 half-size muffins. they did not rise enough. in fact there was so little batter that the did not even form a nice rounded top 🙁

    I used the whole bottle of food coloring and they are still brown 🙁

    • Emily says:

      Oh no!

      On the food colouring front, it will depend on the strength of the colouring that you used. I find that some supermarket food colouring is not very ‘strong’. There is a bit of an element of luck, for example, when I used the Wilton ‘Red red’ food colouring it was incredibly strong.

      I’m wondering what the deal was with the size of your muffins. I used the small patty pans in my muffin tray and it made plenty of them. Perhaps your tray was larger than mine? How high did you fill the batter?

      Hopefully they tasted good at least?


      • Joelle says:

        They smell and taste delicious :). They just look funny! I think the problem is that I am not used to bake with grams measurements. I am more used to ml. Probably got the quantities all wrong :S.

        Oh well, next time they’ll be better!

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