Friday, March 6, 2009

A Weekend of Baking Part II

One of the greatest culinary discoveries for me when I recently moved to the Midwest was Red Velvet Cake. Before this, Red Velvet cake was only something referred to passingly in perhaps a film or novel and not part of our standard baking and cake eating repertoire. But, oh the glorious day when my wife and I sat in the small local "Europa Cafe" and each experienced our first Red Velvet cupcake. Rich red in color, moist without the slightest heavy or soggy note, slightly tangy with just a hint of chocolate in the mouth - all brought together by a tangy, rich cream cheese frosting. Truly a unique culinary - visual - textural - flavorful - experience. Since that day, I have wanted to make red velvet cake for my self. After much exploring and searching, I decided to give one of Paul Dean's Red Velvet Cake recipes a try. And, I am thrilled to say, with some small adjustment (recommended by her recipe reviews) this is the "money" recipe. My 8 year old daughter and I continued our weekend of baking with this our first ever batch of Red Velvet cupcakes. We had a great time together, the cupcakes were truly amazing and personally I think tomorrow morning will be the perfect opportunity to make our second batch - I can't wait.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from Paula Dean (Yield 24 cupcakes)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Cream cheese frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12 cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy. Frosting recipe makes a good deal of frosting and could easily be halved.

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