Saturday, 25 August 2012

The red velvet butterfly!

I'm on a baking streak this week. Well, my strawberries are getting not so fresh now, so instead of eating them as it is, I thought I'd bake red velvet cupcakes to go with it. If you have recently never heard of red velvet cupcakes before then I'm sorry to say that you're a little bit outdated in the dessert world (no offense).

The first time I've come across the red velvet cupcake was through my friend J. She decided to bring in a batch of her lovely homemade red velvet cupcakes to share with all of us who were doing our honours. Now that I mention it, I really miss all the people that I did my honours with last year. It was a stressful year where we all got blood-boiled over our failing experiments, bloody long thesis to write up and the long hours of dedication which sometimes resulted in nothing. Despite all that, we were so close and united. Although we all sat in the corridor, we had a locker that was just dedicated to SNACKS. It was the best thing ever! Ahhh...sweet memories.

I must say, my first response to seeing the red velvet cupcake was that it was shouting out "artificial" in my thoughts due to the vivid redness of the cake. It sort've scared me to even go and try it, despite its classy name and close resemblance to the actual red velvet. Slowly afterwards, I see more and more of my friends baking and posting up red velvet cupcakes that they've made. The red velvet cupcake/cake had somehow gone viral where it's become like the new vogue in the world of cakes as well as in the cake industry.

It made me curious as to what this whole red velvet cake fuss is about that I've decided to make a batch myself. I did get a little bit excited because I saw the keyword "cocoa" amongst the ingredients only to find out that this was a chocolate cake. But at the same time I was feeling a little bit uneasy on the inside because I've never baked a good chocolate cake before. My subconscious suddenly filled me in with those memories of the past where I've failed with all the chocolate cakes I've baked which I really didn't want to remember at all.

I guess my subconscious was right for setting the alarm within myself. I happened to misread an ingredient which resulted in a hard-rock cake. The middle of the cake was continually uncooked and so I left it in the oven for an extra longer period. And silly me, the longer I left the cake in there, obviously the harder the crust became. I gave up in the end. If anything, this kitchen disaster of mine was quite a hilarious one. My sister, S and I were literally bashing this hard-rock cake of mine only to see it spring back up again each time. It was quite amusing. Well there you go, I've made an unbreakable red velvet cake on my first go. Big lesson learnt there! Baking soda (bicarbonate soda) is not baking powder!

I've never really seen butterfly red velvet cupcakes before and so I thought why not do that instead of the old boring slab of cream cheese frosting on top. Well, it's not that boring I guess...

Red Velvet Butterfly Cupcakes

The amount of red food colouring you use is completely up to you, depending on how red you want it to be. I used 15ml which doesn't produce such vivid redness as you would typically see for a red velvet cake. I've seen recipes that's used 60ml of red food colouring! It's a crazy amount to use...but suit yourselves. Adaptation of this cake is from honeyandsoy although I did make some changes here and there.

2 ½ cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Red food colouring (please play around with this)
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups caster sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract (I use imitation vanilla)
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (You can with substitute: 1 tsp white vinegar to 1 cup milk, let it stand for 5 min)
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate soda)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
250g cream cheese, softened
120g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups icing sugar, sifted

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Place cupcake wrappers onto cupcake/muffin tins.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixture until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in vanilla and the red food colouring, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as you go.

4. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

5. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and baking soda. Enjoy the fizz momentarily and then add it to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Working quickly, divide batter evenly between the cupcake wrappers and place them into the oven. Bake for 20-25 mins. Cake is done when a toothpick/skewer comes out clean.

6. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before cutting out a circle and adding the frosting to complete the assemble.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Using an electric mixer, blend the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Adjusting to low speed, add in the vanilla, and then the icing sugar gradually. Adjust to medium-high speed and beat until light and fluffy. Use immediately or refridgerate it covered until use. Make sure to bring the frosting back to room temperature before using it when taken out of the fridge.

Note: You may add more icing sugar to the mixture if you'd like the frosting to be sweeter or stiffer. But then by adding too much icing sugar may lose the tangy taste of the cream cheese.

Butterfly cupcake ensemble
Using a knife or a spoon, scoop out a circle from the centre of the cupcake. With the round, scooped-out cake, cut it in half (these will form the wings). Add a spoon of cream cheese frosting to the main cupcake and then place the wings (skins facing each other) on top of the cream cheese frosting.
Next, enjoy pulling it apart when eating it :)

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