Ladies in Red – Red Velvet Babycakes with Cream Cheese Icing

red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
The BS is coming up this weekend. That’s BS as in bridal shower, silly. Ah, well, bull poo-poo, bridal shower, same thing, right?

Last week, we tried on Espresso Mocha Babycakes with Vanilla Cream Frosting for the uber sugar and spice and everything nice little girlie charade just around the corner and it fit quite perfectly. Not a single alteration required. This week, I’ve got Red Velvet in the dressing room.

red velvet cupcakes
red velvet doesn’t taste like red

“Oooohh! I adore red velvet cake!” they coo in their very cutest Hello Kitty voices, but I don’t understand why people, especially the ladies, get their tastebuds tangled up in knots over red velvet cake. It certainly can’t be for the taste, for red doesn’t taste like anything. It’s neither chocolate nor vanilla. It’s not fruit. Red velvet is named after…a fabric? It must only be the incredibly unexpected red color. Totally unnatural, because there is nothing in nature that could make a cake look that cherry Fanta red. *shrugs* But then again, there’s nothing natural about no. 1 fire engine red fingernails, either. Silly girls.

There are two tablespoons of cocoa powder in the recipe, but the cocoa is fairly unnoticeable, as it’s there less for function and more for fashion. The darkness of the cocoa powder tones down the brightness of the two tablespoons of red food coloring. I’m sure if I left the cocoa powder out, there wouldn’t be all that much difference other than the cake would be so glowing bright red it could work as a stop light. If it didn’t have the food coloring, it would simply be light beighe and taste exactly the same – like nothing. But logic doesn’t matter when we’re talking about platform sandals and red velvet cake, because when it’s in, it’s in, and everyone has to have one even if you couldn’t walk fifty paces without getting a blister the size of the Astrodome. *sigh* So I am making red velvet.

After adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, I almost shook the whole thing out into the garbage disposal in the sink because it looked like no cake batter I had ever seen before. Not only was it bright bright bright red, there was a fairly heavy ring of oil around the edge where the batter met the bowl, and little pools of oil gurgling across the surface. It looked like blood red lava.

But what the hell do I know? Maybe it’s supposed to look like some horrifying creature was about to emerge from the red sea in my mixing bowl. I ladled the oily batter into the cupcake holders and slid the wicked looking little babies into the oven. I was eventually going to have to taste one, so why not get a headstart on trying to undo the aftermath? I sure did a lot of situps in 17 minutes. But damn my burning abs were relieved when the timer went off.

red velvet cupcakes, naked
you can’t go naked to a tea party
red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting
and you can’t have red velvet sans cream cheese frosting

I’m not sure what I was expecting behind the oven door after the gurgling goo. Surprisingly, the ugly duckling batter had blossomed and baked into normal-looking cupcakes. Even the extraordinarily bright maraschino had toned down to a little more natural Bing cherry red. They tasted good (for red velvet) and I didn’t want to put frosting on them. The cake alone was pretty sweet and the most delicious part was the somewhat sticky, lightly crispy layer on top. I have aboslutely no idea how that happened, but my guess is that with all that oil, the cake was basically oven-frying. LOL!

Well, fine, you can’t go naked to a tea party, and you can’t go unfrosted with cupcakes to a bridal shower, so I gave in and did the cream cheese frosting, which incidentally, was a little softer than I would have liked; more like an icing rather than a thick, stiff frosting. But *eh* who the heck cares when it’s just a test batch that you’re giving to your office?

Red Velvet Cake Recipe

from Paula Deen on

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces red food coloring
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition.

Mix cocoa and food coloring together and then add to sugar mixture; mix well.

Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla.

In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture.

Pour batter into 3 (8-inch) round greased and floured pans.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from heat and cool completely before frosting.

Next up: Lemon Ginger Babycakes with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting.

Oh yeah, and if you’ve been paying attention… That’s a giant box from Tiffany that they’re sitting on (the lid is propped up as the backdrop), which was a very bad idea, because now, the gift box has three little oil stains on the bottom of it, LOL!

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nic August 28, 2005 at 10:31 pm

Great photo, Sarah. Looks tasty!


2 Sylvie August 28, 2005 at 10:39 pm

How funny. I just finished making red velvet cupcakes myself. I posted them on my other siter, Food Got To Love It.


3 Rachael Ray August 29, 2005 at 12:43 am

where am I?


4 Anonymous August 29, 2005 at 12:40 pm

Did you doctor your photos at all because the cake looks really really red. Is it supposed to be that day glow red?


5 Fatemeh August 29, 2005 at 5:51 pm

So lookit… why do people get so excited about red velvet cake?


An unparalleled one, I might add. Carrot cake is all good and well, but it’s too distracting, because the cake itself has too much flavor.

Besides, you don’t have technicolor bodily functions after eating carrot cake.


6 sarah August 29, 2005 at 6:41 pm

hi all! thanks for compliments on what the little babies look like. good thing that they didn’t taste all that bad, either, lol!

lacheesemonger: what song are those lyrics from??! i can hear the melody in my head, but can’t figure it out. it’s killing me!

anonymous: didn’t do anything except crop. isn’t that crazy?!?! yes, they are that day-glo red!

fatemah: you are so right. i do love cream cheese frosting, but i don’t need a delivery system. i’ll just stick the giant wooden spoon right down in the mixing bowl and eat it straight up, lol! (btw – carrot cake is my favorite cake of all time)


7 Gloria August 29, 2005 at 11:25 pm

LOVE red velvet cake. I’m not quite sure how I got addicted to it, as I’ve never spent any time in the deep south, but I always seek it out. Doughboys, on 3rd, makes a good one. The red velvet cupcakes at Toast across the street aren’t bad either. I’ve had friends make it for me, but for some reason never made it on my own.

Yours look great. Love the colour contrast against the Tiffany box.


8 augustusgloop August 30, 2005 at 5:53 am

Red velvet cake has yet to hit our shores in spite of my insatiable curiosity ever since that ice cream episode in The Apprentice.

That’s a great pic though.


9 sarah August 30, 2005 at 8:58 pm

hi gloria! thanks for cruising through! i really do wonder what it is about the red velvet that everyone loves, lol! what does it taste like?!?!?

ag: maybe you can try making it, and be the first to have red velvet in Oz!


10 Nush May 8, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Hi Sarah! Your Red Velvet pictures look amazing! Here in Denmark it’s non existent :( Was wondering if you would be willing to share your recipe please? I would love to try baking it!


11 Sarah J. Gim May 8, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Hey Nush!

The recipe I used for these cupcakes has been added to the post, and here’s a copy of the Red Velvet Cake from the famous Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook:


12 Nush May 10, 2009 at 3:50 am

Thanks for your reply Sarah! So you used the Lee Brothers recipe? I can’t seem to see one in the post?!


13 Nush May 10, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Okay, really cannot seem to see a recipe posted here (other than the link you sent me for the Lee Brothers one). Could you please send it to me via email? I’d really appreciate it & sorry for all the trouble!


14 Sarah J. Gim May 11, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Nush: the recipe is on the post. For some reason I thought I had linked to Paula Deen’s full recipe over on, but I guess not. Here it is, so you don’t have to click twice :)


15 Nush May 12, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Thank you so much! Will try baking over the weekend! Will let you know how they turn out :D


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