** The cake must have some cocoa, but not too much because it is not a chocolate cake.
** The cake must have red food coloring; beet juice does not add the right kind of red.
** The cake must have cream cheese frosting.
** There should be pecans. (Really!)
** You must use high-quality ingredients, including White Lily flour, a Southern specialty flour. (I've never heard of White Lily flour - have you?)
** Precise measurements and meticulous attention to detail are key for this cake; therefore, it must be made in small, easy-to handle, family-sized batches. (Oh wow! And here I am posting a recipe that uses cup measurement.)
** You must use a hand-held electric mixer, not a stand mixer: Larger machines can over-mix the batter, which sometimes prevents the cake from rising properly.
** Red velvet cake batter needs vegetable oil, not butter or shortening. Oil yields a very moist cake. (Hmm ... my recipe below uses butter)
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes 12 medium sized cupcakes
Recipe adapted from "Joy of Baking"
1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 1/8 cup ranulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring (I used Wilton)
1/2 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Method for the Cupcakes:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and line 12 muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.
2) In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.
3) In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
4) In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
5) In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.
6) Working quickly, divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 18 - 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
7) Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes and them remove from pan. Let cool completely before frosting. Either spread the frosting with a knife or offset spatula, or use a large 1M Wilton open star decorating tip to pipe the frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes about 2 cups
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Gradually add in the icing sugar and continue beating until smooth. Finally add in the lemon juice and beat to combine. If icing is too soft to pipe, place in refrigerator for about 20 mins.