Red Velvet Cupcake

Red Velvet Cake – something just feels special about it, right? Have you, like us, ever wondered why it’s red?

For hundreds of years cakes were more of a bread that was enhanced with fruits, nuts and to be honest not what I think of when I think “dessert”. In the late 1800s, striving to make better cakes, bakers began to add cocoa powder to their recipes to help make the cake’s crumb more soft. To market these cakes, the bakers would often add the word “velvet” to the name/description to indicate that the cake they were going to eat was very soft.

Where does the red color come from? Some argue that the chemical reaction between the acids and cocoa turns the cake red – but if you make this recipe you’ll see that clearly this is not the case. The first time Red Velvet Cake was mentioned nationally was in 1943, in a cookbook called “The Joy of Cooking”. Ironically enough, the author noted that she did not really enjoy the cake but felt it was her duty to share it anyway – and that recipe involved food dye. 

In WWII when supplies were short, some bakers were substituting red food dye for beet juice – which gave it a lovely color and increased the moisture content of the cake. After the war, people began to use food dye regularly again. So there you have it, the name Red Velvet Cake is trying to convey “This cake has chocolate in it, it has a super fine crumb and looks fancy because it’s red”. For more information check out Sunflour Baking

This recipe creates an ultra soft, smooth cupcake and it goes perfectly with a nice glass of milk! One of our favorite things about red velvet cupcakes is that it’s a perfect excuse to make cream cheese frosting! There is inevitably always some leftover and it will hold in your fridge for weeks (not that it will last that long)!

We hope you enjoy this recipe and would love know your thoughts!

Perfect Red Velvet Cupcakes

Zeke Barber
An amazingly light, velvet textured cupcake with an incredible crumb topped with cream cheese icing.
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 18 cupcakes
Calories 358 kcal


Cupcake Batter

  • 2 2/3 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp unsweetend cocoa
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp red food coloring adjust to suit your color preference

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 1/2 cup salted butter room temperature
  • 6 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar


Cupcake Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350° and line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In the bowl of your stand up mixer, beat the eggs for 2-3 minutes on high - until they begin to form stiff peaks. Set the eggs aside and then cream the butter and sugar on medium speed. One creamed add the lemon juice, food coloring, oil and vanilla and combine.
  • Alternating between flour mixture and buttermilk, begin to incorporate the ingredients into the mixer bowl with the mixer on low - be careful not to overmix the batter. Gently fold the eggs into the cake batter until just combined.
  • Fill the cupcakes 2/3 the way full and baked for 15-20 minutes. Insert a toothpick to check for doneness - they will not brown since they are dyed red.

Icing Instructions

  • Place the cream cheese, vanilla and butter in a stand up mixer (or in a large bowl using a hand held mixer) and mix until the cream cheese is smooth.
  • Slowly add the powdered sugar by the 1/2 cup while the mixer is running on low.


Serving: 1cupcakeSodium: 128mgCalcium: 48mgSugar: 37.5gFiber: 0.8gPotassium: 101mgCholesterol: 58mgCalories: 358kcalSaturated Fat: 7.8gFat: 14.9gProtein: 4.3gCarbohydrates: 53gIron: 1mg
Keyword #chocolate, #dessert, #red, cake, creamcheese, cupcake, velvet
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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