Twas a dark and stormy night. With cake!

Ok, so maybe not particularly stormy.
The weathermen in Seattle LIE. All the time. I swear they have a big Wheel of Weather, and they spin it every morning, giggle, make some shit up, embellish the story a bit, and tell us that’s how it’s going to be. How they keep their jobs is anyone’s guess.
Today’s forecast was clouds, rain, thunderstorms, and a high of 56ish. What we actually got was blindingly bright skies, puffy clouds, really strong wind, and a high of about 48. So close, guys! Thanks for playing!

What does a dark, stormy (or not) night need? Cake. (also savory waffles, but that is a recipe for another day – google it if you can’t wait) It also appears to need at least three trips to the grocery store. Cake is a home improvement project, right?

Tonight I got crazy and made not just the red velvet cupcakes I’d promised to some coworkers and the coworkers of a friend who works four floors down from me, but a second cake. For breakfast. Mmmm. Cake.

mmmm, cake!

I love red velvet cake. I don’t know why. I have a quart bottle of red food coloring in my cupboard. It’s about half empty at this point, and I bought it… um… recentlyish. (I also love Cash & Carry. Gallon jugs of food coloring! 50lb bags of cake flour!* Giant bags of lemons!)

I love how the batter looks, especially through the lens of a digital camera, like a bucket of blood.

blood or cake batter?

Recipe is from, well, the sticky piece of paper on my counter. Cobbled together from a variety of internet sources, mostly Pinch My Salt.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
 
Cobbled together from a variety of internet sources, mostly Pinch My Salt. Makes 24 regular size cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes
Ingredients
  • For the cupcakes:
  • 2¼ cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp red food coloring
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • For the Frosting:
  • 16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages), room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (one stick), room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups powdered sugar, sifted if you’re feeling ambitious
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Cakes:
  2. – Preheat oven to 350 F. Line either 2 12-cup muffin pans, 2 24-cup mini muffin pans, or 1 12-cup muffin pan and 1 24-cup mini muffin pan with cupcake liners. (again, Cash & Carry – 500 of them for less than $3)
  3. – Mix the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Feel free to sift it if you’re so inclined. I rarely am. Set the flour mixture aside.
  4. – In a ramekin or other small bowl, mix cocoa powder, vanilla, and food coloring into a paste. It will be thick, but make sure it’s smooth. Set aside.
  5. – In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat butter and sugar together until light and very fluffy, 3-5 minutes or so. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly between additions, and scraping down the sides each time. Beat in the red cocoa vanilla paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go.
  6. – Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk – ⅓ of the flour, then ½ of the buttermilk, then ⅓ of the flour, then the last of the buttermilk, then the last of the flour. Scrape down the bowl between additions, and mix each addition in completely before adding the next.
  7. – Do some science to it! In a small ramekin, mix vinegar and baking soda together. When it’s done being fizzy, add it to the batter and stir well with the spatula to combine.
  8. – Fill the prepared cupcake cups ⅔ – ¾ full – I use a medium-sized cookie dough/ice cream scoop and a very small one to fill the cups evenly with minimal mess (which is key when you’re working with BRIGHT RED batter). Bake 20 minutes or so for the big ones and 17-18 minutes for the little ones. Check them early and often, as they’ll go from perfect to totally overdone awfully quickly.
  9. – Cool on a wire rack, and make sure they’re completely cool before you attempt to frost them. Frost with swirls of cream cheese icing. (I put them in the box and then frost them. I use an Ateco 825 tip for the big ones, and either of two Wilton tips for the small ones and either a disposable pastry bag or a gallon size zip lock bag, which is muuuuuuch easier than picking each one up and spreading frosting on with a knife or a spatula. Also? Looks all fancified.)
  10. Frosting:
  11. Cream the butter and the cream cheese together until smooth.
  12. Add the salt.
  13. Add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it’s all mixed in, then add the vanilla.
  14. Beat until light and fluffy, adding more powdered sugar if necessary. (I ended up using almost 3 cups this time around, and I’m not entirely sure why it needed that much)
  15. Use immediately, or refrigerate until needed. If you do refrigerate it, though, you’ll need to allow it to come up to room temperature and rebeat it a bit before using it.
Notes
You can substitute 2 cups of all-purpose flour for the 2¼ cups of cake flour, and ¾ cup of yogurt plus ¼ cup milk for the buttermilk (or so I’ve heard – I haven’t actually tried that one – the flour I go back and forth on, depending on what I have on hand, so I know that works).

*Yes, 50lb bags of cake flour. When you consider the cost of the wee bitty box (2lb?) of cake flour at the grocery store, which I think was around $5 the last time I bought one, the $15 for the 50lb bag seems staggeringly cheap. Especially if you go through quite a lot of it. A big rubbermaid tub with a good seal, and it will keep for AGES.