Martha Stewart’s Red Velvet Cupcake

by Shirley@Køkken on June 21, 2012 · 37 comments

in cake, Cupcake, Sweets

Post image for Martha Stewart’s Red Velvet Cupcake

The Red Velvet cake, to me, is quintessentially American. I became especially fascinated by it after I learnt about how the red colour of the cake was traditionally developed. Simple molecular food science harnessed brilliantly! Most avid bakers would have already celebrated this classic recipe in various ways and I have eyed this recipe in Martha Stewart’s Cupcake cookbook for the longest time.

For those who may be curious, the crimson hue of the Red Velvet cake was originally achieved through the natural chemical reaction between an acidic component, such as buttermilk/ vinegar and cocoa powder. The acidic environment created by the acid promotes the manifestation of the naturally occuring red pigment, Anthocyanin in cocoa powder. What I am curious about is the intensity of the reddish hue that was originally developed through this chemistry.  It is common nowadays to find red velvet cakes in an intense chili red colour that screams food colouring – I guess just like red lipstick, the scarlet hue in a sweet has its irresistible allure, whetting one’s appetite with passion, boldness, sin and of course sex….

Martha Stewart’s Red Velvet cupcake recipe is not spared of any food colouring. Even though the dose of colouring is already more than what I would normally use in a recipe of this scale, it did not even come close to yield the ruby shade I so very often see in this American classic. What I got was more of a burgandy brownish red hue. The colour could have developed better if I had used non-Dutch processed cocoa powder which is less alkaline or if I had used buttermilk instead of normal milk but nevertheless, it does make you conscious of the amount of colouring in that slice of Red Velvet – but what the heck, we can all afford to live a little dangerously once in a while.

I have no complaints about this recipe. Loved the moist fine tender crumbs and because it uses liquid oil instead of butter, the texture was light and was perfect with the rich cream cheese frosting. Definitely another keeper from Martha Stewart’s cupcake book.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Martha Stewart’s Red Velvet Cupcake

Recipe type: Sweets, Cake, Cupcakes

  • 2½ cups(280g) Cake flour
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1½ cups (340g) sugar (I used 200g)
  • 1½ cups vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • ½ tsp red gel paste food colour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk ( I used normal milk)
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp distilled white vinegar
  • Cream cheese frosting
  • 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter
  • 12 oz (340g) cream cheese
  • 4 cups (453g) powder sugar (I used 300g)
  • ¾ tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift togehter cake flour, cocoa and salt.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla.
  3. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 batches alternating with 2 additions of milk and whisking well after each addition. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl and add the mixture to the batter and mix on medium speed for 10 seconds.
  4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each ¾ full.
  5. Bake for 20mins until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Transfer tin to wire rack to cool before frosting with Cream Cheese frosting.
  6. Cream Cheese Frosting
  7. Whisk together cream cheese and butter until creamy and fluffy.
  8. Add sugar in 3 batches and continue to whisk until pale. Add vanilla extract and mix to combine.



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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris June 21, 2012

Awesome cake….. and nice clicks.


2 Shirley@Køkken June 22, 2012

Thanks, Chris!


3 June 21, 2012

I love how dark and deep this one looks! Amazing!


4 Shirley@Køkken June 23, 2012

Thanks, Anh! I almost missed out your comment as it went to SPAM…


5 July 5, 2012

i was thinking what happened! So i re-commented :)


6 Mel June 21, 2012

Mmmmph…..delicious and beautiful red velvet cupcakes! Martha Stewart’s recipes is always the best.


7 Shirley@Køkken June 22, 2012

Indeed, Mel. The recipes from her Cupcakes book have not failed me yet… :)


8 Deb June 22, 2012

Martha Stewart recipes are always so much fun! The cupcakes look scrumptious! I’ve only indulged in Red Velvet recipes that use food coloring or a bakery emulsion which includes the food coloring. I am intrested in trying the historical method as well. Another great excuse for baking!


9 Shirley@Køkken June 22, 2012

Totally, Deb. If I can get non-Dutch processed cocoa powder, I would most likely want to try this again.


10 Camilla June 22, 2012

Fascinating to hear the chemistry behind the red velvet cupcake, something I’ve never tried through lack of inclination (natural chocolate colour appeals to me much more) and the fact that the style has only recently made it to the UK.


11 Shirley@Køkken June 22, 2012

Camilla, I hope you get to try this soon – I can’t wait to do a traditional 3 layer Red Velvet cake….


12 Pei-Lin June 22, 2012

Hi, Shirley.

The cupcakes look adorable. I like how the frosting is placed atop. Yeah, cakes made with (flavorless) oil rather than butter stay moist even in the refrigerator.

I recently made cupcakes, too — carrot cupcakes — with lemony cream cheese frosting. I personally don’t have problems with how they turned out; I found the sweetness to be all right overall; however, most of those whom I’d shared these cupcakes with told me they don’t like the frosting, as it was too sweet for them. And what I’ve learned from this, factoring in my “food testers” back in the States, is that the majority of the people here simply are not made for (cup)cakes smeared with (American “buttercream”) frosting. How sad. Oh well.

Anyhow, keep up with the fabulous work.


13 Shirley@Køkken June 22, 2012

Hey Pei Lin, good to hear from you again! I think there is still a market for cupcakes here but the taste and level of sweetness needs to be adjusted. I do too with this recipe. I practically cut down the sugar qty by half.


14 Jeannie June 22, 2012

Yes, lovely to look at but my family won’t touch them the first and last time I made this! I am drooling over yours:) Maybe I should make some and try to get the family to eat them this time lol!


15 Shirley@Køkken June 22, 2012

Jeannie, but why? They were scared about the red colour? 😀


16 Holly | Beyond Kimchee June 22, 2012

I’ve checked out the same book from the library couple of years ago and remember seeing that cupcake. For me the red velvet cake is either hit or miss. I have had very good ones and extremely bad ones. I haven’t tried Martha Stewart’s cake yet though. Good to know about the chemical reactions. I always wondered how some are so red and the other are more dull. Love the cute piping work of frosting on top of the cake. You got me into the mood of cupcakes. Yum!


17 Shirley@Køkken June 22, 2012

Holly, actually I haven’t had that many Red Velvet Cakes and so far, I have not experienced any really bad ones…yet… I am pleased with this one :)


18 Meg June 23, 2012

Hi Shirley,
Thanks for sharing about the chemistry behind the red velvet. I’m actually quite hesitant about making this coz of the coloring, but I really am tempted now! And recently I tasted one from twelve cupcakes which was surprisingly good, very tender crumbs and moist. Will be baking this weekend to see how it turns out :)


19 Shirley@Køkken June 23, 2012

Meg, do try it out and let me know how it turns out.


20 Glenda June 24, 2012

If you have left-over frosting, can you freeze it?


21 Shirley@Køkken July 20, 2012

Hello Glenda, I believe you can. What you need to do is to defrost it and beat it again to get the right fluffy consistency for piping.


22 Sally June 24, 2012

Try “Mystery Icing” for your next Red Velvet Cake. A simple google search will get you the recipe. We were raised on Red Velvet with Mystery Icing in the South and would never think of using a cream cheese frosting.


23 Shirley@Køkken July 20, 2012

Thanks for sharing Sally! This is most interesting!


24 Riley June 26, 2012

I love Martha’s red velvet cupcakes! They are always a hit!


25 Sonia June 27, 2012

I like your red velvet cake without adding any colouring, sound good !


26 July 5, 2012

your cuppies look amazing! I have to try a real red velvet cake soon!


27 Edith July 12, 2012

Been missing your blog post. Hope you are having a blast in Europe.


28 Shirley@Køkken July 20, 2012

Hi Edith – just got back this morning… so tired.


29 Vera Zecevic - Cupcakes Garden August 6, 2012

I adore red velvet cakes! Its always have perfect color! This recipe is adorable to ! I’m planning to showcase it on my blog!


30 Veronica November 8, 2012

Your cupcakes look fabulous. Loved the beautiful colour too.


31 gtyuty November 14, 2012

how much does it make?


32 Shirley@Køkken December 8, 2012

Hi Gtyuty, Martha Stewart’s book says it makes 24 cupcakes


33 Angela February 25, 2013

Hi Shirley, I enjoyed your web page and thanks for posting all those interesting notes and the recipes. Can you substitute red yeast rice power instead of the red food coloring? Please share your experience and advice. Thank you


34 Shirley@Køkken March 3, 2013

Hi Angela, sorry I missed out on your comment. I am not familiar with red yeast rice powder but I suppose you can, though I am not sure how the colour would develop.


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