Bite-size Velvety Red Cakes From Heaven

Grace Battista's picture

Baking, Celeste Grey, Cooking Corner, feature 3, Food, Grace Battista, issue 5, Red Velvet Cupcakes, Entertainment - By Grace Battista on Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 02:16

I know that every month in the world is full of birthdays, but in my personal experience it seems that everyone’s parents were treating themselves to a little extra loving around the holiday season.

Santa apparently had more surprises in his silky sack than just a shiny new choo-choo. He also had shiny new fetuses.

My sister’s birthday is the 24th, my best friend’s is the 28th and so many of the new faces I have become acquainted with also claim September as their birth month.

In the past three weeks of French class, I have sung “Joyeux Anniversaire” more times than I would care to, and it is a pretty good song.

It is only fitting that cupcakes be baked as a jolly farewell to the month of birthdays. And since red velvet cupcakes are such a “thing” now, I thought I would kill two birds with one stone by making them and being cool at the same time. A combination better than cupcakes and cool is virtually unfathomable.

Whipping up a batch of these satiny, scarlet beauties was not the birthday celebration extravaganza I had always envisioned it to be. Instead it was inconvenient, time consuming and occasionally painful.

It was also sticky, messy and the end result was a wonderful treat that gave life meaning.
The parallels between this baking process and the births that inspired it abound as freely as feces in diapers, which is to say very much.

Despite the unfortunate realities that come with baking in a dorm kitchen, these little bundles of joy are uniquely heavenly.

Red velvet cake is a beast of its own. Its flavor is so individual, not chocolate but definitely not vanilla, just delicious. It is moist, possesses a delicate pillowy crumb and is topped with an ethereal halo of frosting.

“Ah, the frosting!!!!!!!” I moaned in my mind when I took a bite. I love frosting. I will someday make a cake entirely of frosting. One of the frostings in this frosting fantasy will have to be the one I tried for these devilish little cakes of ecstasy.

It seems weird and gross, like mayonnaise, but it is actually the best thing that ever happened to me. Like mayonnaise, it can be a conditioning hair mask and a tasty sandwich condiment.
Despite coming from a papier-mâché-like paste, this certain cupcake crown ended up being unbelievably fluffy and buttery, with a superb vanilla flavor.

This frosting is the true traditional topping for red velvet cake, and after trying it I wonder why anyone ever strayed from this path of true frosting enlightenment.

These cupcakes are incredibly good. Although they are a definite undertaking, the delightful outcome makes all the trouble worth it. Especially the frosting!

There really is no better way to celebrate another year than by slowly chipping away at your lifespan with artery-clogging saturated fats.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
adapted from the The Confetti Cakes Cookbook by Elisa Strauss

3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
Red food coloring (I used about half of a one ounce bottle)
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350º F and line a muffin pan with paper liners, or grease it up, but the former makes for easier clean up. Stir together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil and sugar.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. Then add the vanilla and red food coloring and mix well. Add about half of the flour mixture to the red sugary soup, then half the buttermilk, then the remaining flour and buttermilk, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
Put the baking soda in a little dish (I just used a measuring cup) and add the vinegar. It will fizz vigorously like a sixth grade science project. Disregard this and stir it until the soda has dissolved completely in the vinegar. Add this mixture to the batter and mix well.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure that all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Pour into the muffin tin, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way full. Pop these babies in the oven.

They should be fully developed after about 15-20 minutes, when they spring back when touched and fill your face with delicious aroma when you open the oven. Let them cool, spread them with either one of the fabulous frostings below, and then devour.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Even though the other frosting was so insanely delicious, I did not know it would be. This one is consistently delicious and easy.

1 8 ounce Package of cream cheese
1 stick of unsalted butter
Enough powdered sugar to create the right kind of frosting for you

Whip together the cream cheese and butter until they are light and fluffy. Add sugar, beating after each addition, until you have achieved the consistency and level of sweetness that is desired

That’s the Best Frosting I Have Ever Had
from MissyDew on www.tastykitchen.com

5 tablespoons flour
1 cup of milk, preferably whole
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of butter, room temperature but not overly mushy
Salt
A splash of vanilla

Whisk together milk and flour in a saucepan until lump-free. Cook this mixture, whisking constantly, I mean it, over medium heat until it is thick and smooth, like the consistency of rubber cement. Take it off the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set this aside.

Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and salt until extremely light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.

Once the flour mixture is totally cool, add it slowly by the spoonful to the butter mixture, beating the heck out of it in between spoonfuls.

When all the flour stuff has been added, just keep on mixing and mixing until you have something delicious, fluffy and silky. This mixing can take a while, so be patient and do not give up. If it is curdled or still feels grainy from the sugar just mix it some more, until it is perfectly tasty and smooth.

Picture by Celeste Grey