These popular red velvet cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery have deep red sponge and a cool cream cheese frosting. The recipe is a little fiddly: use the exact quantities and mix the ingredients well so the sponge has an even colour and texture
For the red velvet cupcakes:
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
10g cocoa powder
20ml red food colouring (we recommend Dr. Oetker's or a paste colouring as red food colourings vary in strength)
½tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
½tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½tsp white wine vinegar
For the cream cheese frosting:
300g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold
You'll also need:
12-hole cupcake tray, lined with large cupcake cases
To make a red velvet cake instead, double the quantities below, divide between three 20cm cake tins and bake for 25 minutes at the same oven temperature. Frost with 2 quantities of cream cheese frosting and sandwich together.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.
Put the butter and the sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy and well mixed. Turn the mixer up to high speed, slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated.
In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a thick, dark paste. Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly pour in half the buttermilk. Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour, and beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added. Scrape down the side of the bowl again. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes.
Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 mins, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile for the cream cheese frosting: Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 mins. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.
When the cupcakes are cold, spoon over the cream cheese frosting on top.