Traditional red velvet cakes are a speciality of the American south: rich cocoa sponge dyed red and topped with lots of cool cream-cheese frosting. Try Victoria Threader's cupcakes with reduced-sugar frosting
110g vegetable fat such as Trex
300g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
260g self-raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp good-quality cocoa powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp red paste food colouring (Victoria used Sugarflair’s Christmas red colouring)
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp baking powder
For the icing
60g plain flour
Pinch of salt
110g vegetable fat such as Trex
110g unsalted butter
220g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
For the butterflies
50g flower paste
Red food colour paste (Victoria used Sugarflair's Claret)
White hundreds and thousands (to decorate)
Large drop-flower piping nozzle (Victoria used a Wilton 1E)
Large piping bag
Butterfly patchwork cutter (Victoria got hers from eBay - search for 'butterfly patchwork cutter')
If you can't find buttermilk in the shops, just add 2tbsp of lemon juice to 240ml milk and leave to stand for 5 mins.
Preheat your oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas Mark 2 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cake cases. There will be enough cake batter to make 2 more cupcakes - if you don’t have 2 muffin trays you could use silicone or card baking cups for the extra batter.
Cream the vegetable fat and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then add in the eggs and beat again.
Sift the flours, cocoa powder and salt together and add 1/3 into the mixture at a time along with 1/3 of the buttermilk. Beat until combined and repeat until all the flour and buttermilk has been added.
Add the vanilla extract, red colouring, vinegar and baking powder and beat again.
Fill each cupcake case to 2/3 full and bake for 30 minutes or until done - they will be springy to the touch when ready. Leave in the tray for 10 minutes before popping onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile make the butterflies. Colour the flower paste with the claret colour by adding a touch of colour on a toothpick and kneading it into the icing. Keep adding until you have the desired colour. Remember to wear plastic gloves if you don’t want red fingers.
Roll the icing quite thinly and leave to dry for a few minutes.
Make a zigzag with kitchen foil to pop your butterflies in, this will give the butterflies a more realistic shape. To do this, fold a large piece of tin foil in half, then in half again. Fold in the middle, then fold the outside pieces down to create an 'M' shape. When you sit the butterflies in there to dry, it holds them in that slightly folded position.
Grease the butterfly patchwork cutter with a little of the vegetable fat then use it cut and emboss the butterflies. Place the butterflies in your foil 'zigzag' and leave to dry for a while.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan, over a gentle heat, Whisk the flour and salt into the milk and continue to heat gently while whisking continuously (to avoid lumps), until the mixture takes on a thick pudding-like consistency. Leave to cool for 30 minutes.
In a separate bowl, cream the vegetable fat, sugar, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy.
When the pudding has cooled add it to the creamed vegetable fat and butter mix one spoon at a time, beating with an electric whisk until all the pudding has been added. It will be very light in texture and quite white when it’s ready. Cool in the fridge for 15 minutes, this helps stiffen it slightly so it’s ready to pipe.
Attach your piping nozzle to the large piping bag and place it in a large glass (pint glasses or tall picnic glasses are great). Pull the bag down around the glass and fill the bag by pushing the buttercream down into the bag as you fill. Then lift the bag up from around the glass, and from where the cream stops push all the air up out of the bag and twist the bag right at the top of the buttercream.
Hold the twist between your thumb and forefinger and pipe a swirl by applying pressure to the top of the bag. Starting in the middle of the cake, work your way out to the edge of the paper case and, using the edge as a guide, follow it around the cake and build upwards into a swirl. When you reach the end of the swirl press down slightly, release the pressure and pull up quickly. After you have piped a cupcake twist the bag again so the twist is always at the top of the buttercream.