Red Velvet Cupcakes


You know what scares me about red velvet cake? The red. You guys know that it’s all food coloring right? I’ve made red velvet cake a number of times before, but I’ve never been able to get over the addition of food coloring to the batter. I usually leave it out all together, BUT in this particular case, I was taking the cupcakes to a BBQ and I didn’t want to bring faux red velvet cake, so I added in as much coloring as I could muster. I don’t know what it is… but Red #40 is safe right? It’s not like the atomic green that they put in Mountain Dew, is it?! My dear BBQing friends, I hope I have not poisoned you…


Despite my aversion to food colorings of all sorts, I love red velvet cake because it’s a damn tasty cake! It has a very light and tender crumb due to the presence of vinegar in the batter that helps leaven the cake. I came upon my particular recipe from a cake class offered by Cook’s Boulevard in SF’s Noe Valley. TruffleBird and I learned all about baking, leveling, and frosting cakes in that class. Oh, and I got suckered into buying a cake decorating turntable. But it’s ok… I love my baking gadgets and gizmos. I digress…


People say that the cream cheese frosting on a red velvet cake is what makes the experience. I don’t know… I rarely ate heavily frosted cakes as a child, often preferring plain cake, but luckily this recipe excels in both arenas. I might cut back just a little on the amount of sugar in the frosting in the future though. If making cupcakes instead of a 2-layer cake, a half batch of the frosting will be more than enough.


Red Velvet Cake | Adapted from Cook’s Boulevard


  • 2 9-inch round cake pans (or a 24-cupcake pan, lined)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 – 2 ounce bottle red food coloring
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (white or apple cider)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray the cake pans with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a work surface. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt onto parchment paper. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the cocoa powder and food coloring until smooth. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment place the eggs. Begin mixing on low while slowly adding the sugar. Switch the speed to high and mix until the color turns a pale yellow. At this point slowly pour in the oil and vanilla extract. Continue mixing for about a minute, then add the cocoa/food coloring mixture. Switch the speed to low and add half the flour mixture, followed by half the buttermilk. Repeat. Lastly add the vinegar and pour directly into cake pans.

Spread batter evenly and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cakes for 5-10 minutes in the pan. Run a small metal spatula around the perimeter of the pan then invert cakes onto wire rack to cool (may put in refrigerator to cool quicker). Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting | Adapted from Cooks Boulevard


  • 1 pound cream cheese, room temperature, not warm
  • 12 ounces butter, room temperature, not warm
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or lemon juice


Place all ingredients in a mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment. Start mixing on low speed until powdered sugar is incorporated. Then, switch to high speed, until there are no lumps. Makes 2 quarts.


4 Responses

  1. You can always go the traditional root and use beets.

  2. I hope they tasted as delicious as they look!

  3. I think with that amount of beet coloring, the cupcake might actually start tasting like beets.

  4. […] of cupcakes. While I was still looking after my parents’ house, before the barbecue, I made these Red Velvet Cupcakes. It was the second time using one of Amy’s recipes, and this time also […]

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