After putting a lot of thought into a Valentine’s Day themed post I came up with three criteria. Firstly, it had to taste and look amazing. Secondly, it had to be easy to make and thirdly, most importantly it had to be RED and covered in sweets. Having never made red velvet cakes before, they seemed to fit all three so I decided to give it a go. A quick note about the food colouring: it might look like a lot of colouring but if you don’t use all of it you wont get the really red colour we are looking for!
Red Velvet Muffins
Preparation and cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves about 16
- One or two 12-hole deep muffin tins and muffin cases.
For the sponge:
- 120g (4oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 300g (10½oz) caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 20g (¾oz) cocoa powder
- 40ml (1½fl oz) red food colouring (yes a whole bottle!)
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 300g (10½oz) plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 240ml (8½fl oz) buttermilk
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the frosting:
- 100g (3½oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 600g (1lb 5oz) icing sugar
- 250g (9oz) full-fat cream
- Soft cheese (such as Philadelphia)
- Any Valentines day sweets you can find. I used love hearts, lips and Haribo hearts.
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas mark 4, and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.
Using a hand-held electric whisk or a free standing electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until thoroughly mixed. Break in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
2. In a separate, small bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, food colouring and vanilla essence to form a thick paste. Add the paste to the batter, mixing thoroughly until the paste is completely incorporated. Scrape down the edges with a spatula to make sure you get everything.
3. Sift together the flour and salt in another bowl, then add the flour to the batter in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk and mixing thoroughly after each addition. In a small bowl mix the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda together by hand and add it quickly to the cake batter, stirring it in.
4. Spoon the batter into the paper cases, so that they are two-thirds full, using any remaining batter to fill up to four more cases in another tin. I weighed mine because I like to get an even amount in all the cases and found it to be about 50g. Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly pressed. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a short while in the tin, then place on a wire rack to cool completely before you frost them.
5. Using the electric whisk or free standing mixer with the paddle attachment, and mixing on a low speed, beat the butter and icing sugar together until no large lumps of butter remain and the mixture is sandy in texture. Add the cream cheese and mix together slowly until everything is incorporated, then increase the speed to medium and beat the frosting until it is soft and fluffy.
6. I went with three different icing styles; spread on like normal, swirled all over the cake and spiralled up to a peak. To pipe the icing on, place a star shaped nozzle into your piping bag and fill with the icing. Squeeze the icing down to the nozzle and twist the end to stop any coming out the top. Squeeze with a consistent pressure and turn the nozzle in a spiral to get the curl of icing. Make the icing swirl as big or as little as you like either filling a small portion or the whole top. Decorate with one or more of your love themed sweets. You could just spread it on but this makes it look a bit more impressive and it’s super easy!
Meg Davies has been an enthusiastic home baker from a very young age. Now at university in Birmingham, she has been studying Food & Consumer Management for two years. She loves to come up with fun & interesting recipes that are easy for everyone to make at home and is in the process of making her own website charting her baking adventures.