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Thursday 10 November 2011

Baking for Beginners: Black Velvet Cupcakes

Originally I was making red velvet cupcakes. Actually, I didn't realise I was making black velvet ones until I took them out of the oven and, low and behold, black velvet. Not red. Black.

I've made red velvet cake and cupcakes more than once using this recipe. I know how to make them. But, that's baking for you. just when you think you know what you're doing, for no reason that you can fathom, it all goes a little bit Pete Tong. Anyway, not to be defeated, and buoyed up somewhat by my more-than-a-bit delicious cream cheese icing, the cakes are tasty all the same. Do let me know if your cakes turn out red. Or black. Or, for that matter, blue, green, purple, orange or turquoise.

You'll need:

For the cupcakes:
  • 250g plain four
  • 60g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 20ml red food colouring
  • 115ml milk
  • 5ml lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt, and the same of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
For the frosting:
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 125g cream cheese
Make it!

For the cupcakes:
  • Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C. You can consider how you can personally save the whales whilst you do this, if you like.
  • Measure out the milk and add the lemon juice. Leave to curdle.
  • Blend the butter and sugar.
  • Slowly add your egg (beaten) until the mixture is smooth.
  • In a separate bowl combine the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and food colouring until you've got a smooth paste.
  • Add the paste to the sugar/butter mix and blend well.
  • Add half the milk/lemon juice mix and blend well.
  • Add half the flour and blend vigorously.
  • Add the rest of the milk/lemon mix, blend, then add the remaining flour and blend until evenly combined.
  • Finally, add the bicarb, salt and finally the vinegar and blend in a figure-of-eight pattern.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between 12 cake cases and bake for 20 minutes.
For the frosting:
  • Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl.
  • Add the butter and blend.
  • Add the cream cheese and blend until completely smooth.
  • Once the cakes are cooled, top with plenty of frosting using a metal teaspoon. Hold the spoon in one hand and the cake in the other. Put a dollop of frosting in the centre of the cake and gently rotate the cake (not the spoon). Encourage the frosting the the edges then finish by creating a gentle peak in the centre of the cake.
  • Leave to let the frosting harden a little then enjoy!


  1. You need to use Dr Oetker red food colouring if you want them to come out the right red colour. Other brands go much darker.

  2. It has to be a fully artificial red colouring to come out red once baked as the natural ones cook out and are generally made for icing. Bet they were still yummy though!

  3. Dr Oatker only make the natural one now as the artificial ones contained e numbers linked to hyperactivity. At least this is what the Dr Oatker staff told me at the stall at the cake show at the NEC last week.

  4. "Add half the flour and blend vigorously"?

    I've read the ingredients list several times now and can't see any flour mentioned....

  5. Am I going mad or have you just added 250g flour while I was posting?

  6. Haha, it was an error in the recipe, Saffron. You're not going mad.

    Carrie has since been taken out back and beaten throughly with a rolling pin.

  7. Do you mean they've stopped making the good food colouring, Ellen? That one was great (and suitable for vegetarians).

  8. Saffron, I think you'll find she added 250g plain four... lol.

    As for the food colouring, all they told me was that they don't make one any more that will give the intensity of red for red velvet cake, they did say that some other brands still use the e numbers they as a company have decided not too any more. However, I'm not sure how long ago this decision was reached but imagine you may still find some lingering about online or in some shops...

    Also, don't do what I thought was clever and think 'Oh, I'll try blue velvet cake instead' It tastes yummy still but looks...well it'd be great for halloween... It goes a 'lovely' shade of green!

  9. I'm sorry for my flour-related faux pas. I am a bad person. However, you'll be glad to know that I took my rolling-pin-beating graciously and have learned my lesson to not allow my children to distract me with requests for juice when I am writing up a recipe. Naughty Carrie.


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