Life would be meaningless without a little red velvet cake. The tang of this one, with the pop of the icing, is truly a marvel. The food coloring is optional, but the cake is just plain velvet without. I get the best results with gel or powder food coloring, as some liquid red dyes will look pink. (If you do use food coloring, don’t forget to pack a toothbrush and a tube of whitening toothpaste to get rid of the red devil-tongue effect that is part of the deal.) I make these in jumbo-size muffin cups for that extra- big effect.
BIG RED VELVET CUPCAKES
Butter, for the pans
21⁄4 cups Blackbird Bakery Cake & Muffin Blend
11⁄2 cups granulated sugar
1⁄2 cup packed light brown sugar
1⁄3 cup plus 11⁄2 teaspoons cornstarch
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
11⁄8 teaspoons kosher salt
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1⁄4 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 cup (120 ml) 2% milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Red food coloring (optional)
1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting
MAKES 12 JUMBO CUPCAKES OR ONE 9-INCH (23-CM) DOUBLE- LAYER CAKE
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line two 6-cup jumbo muffin tins with paper liners.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift together the Cake & Muffin Blend, sugars, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, and vanilla until they are uniform. Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture and mix on low speed until the combination is pudding-thick. Add the buttermilk, milk, and vine- gar and mix on high until the batter is smooth.
If desired, whisk in 1 tablespoon (or more, if needed!) of the food coloring, until the batter is as red as you’d like it.
Evenly divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling them three- quarters full. Bake them for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
Cool the cupcakes in the pans on wire racks for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the racks to cool completely.
Transfer the icing to a pastry bag fitted with a 1⁄2-inch (12-mm) star tip and pipe a generous portion onto each cupcake.
The cupcakes will keep, covered, at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
FOR THE CREAM CHEESE ICING:
1⁄2 cup (1 stick / 113 g) unsalted butter, softened
11⁄2 pounds (680 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
21⁄2 cups (250 g) sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is pale and smooth. If there are any lumps of butter remaining, your icing will be lumpy, so remember: Not enough o’s in smooth. Add the cream cheese and keep mixing until you no longer see streaks of butter, about 1 minute. Turn the mixer off and add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Starting on low speed and slowly increasing to high, whip the icing for 3 minutes, or until it is so fluffy that it could not conceivably be fluffier. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl so anything that is sticking to the sides of the bowl is turned back into the bowl around the paddle.
Transfer the icing to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe a dollop onto each cupcake, then using a knife, spike the icing so you get these lovely peaks.
Serve immediately for the best results. Will keep with total moisture for up to 5 days in an airtight container.