Red velvet cupcakes

Vanessa Greenwood’s Christmassy red velvet cupcakes. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography

Vanessa Greenwood’s Christmassy red velvet cupcakes. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography

Wed, Mar 14, 2018, 14:48

  • Makes: 12
  • Cooking Time: 60 mins
  • Course: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American


  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp natural red food colouring paste (or gel)
  • 100g butter, cubed, room temperature
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 250g plain flour, sieved
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bread soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 200ml buttermilk
  • Red and white icing
  • 120g butter, cubed, room temperature
  • 120g cream cheese
  • 400g icing sugar, sieved
  • Zest of an orange
  • ¼ tsp natural red food colouring paste (or gel)


1. Preheat the oven to 170°C fan. Fill the muffin tray with paper cases.

2. In a bowl, mix the cocoa powder, vanilla essence and red colouring together, then gradually add as much buttermilk as required (about 50ml) to form a loose paste. Set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually mix in the eggs, then add in the coloured cocoa paste to the mixture. Sieve the flour, baking powder, bread soda and salt together and gradually fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.

4. Gradually whisk in the remaining buttermilk to a smooth batter. Fill the 12 paper cases evenly with the coloured cake batter, about two-thirds full.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until nicely risen and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool fully in the tin before icing.

6. To make the icing, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together until lump free. Add in the sieved icing sugar in three batches, beating till smooth, lastly mix in the orange zest. If you only have one piping nozzle set aside a third of the icing which will remain uncoloured.

7. Then colour the remaining two-thirds of the icing by mixing ¼ tsp red colouring into it, and fill a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle before piping from the outside inwards to give a peaked effect. Clean the nozzle and place it into a second piping bag with the white icing and pipe a base rim, then a single bobble on the centre of each peak.

Variation: Instead of red icing, make mini cupcakes and use fresh strawberries to create a Santa hat with a quarter of the amount of white icing for the rim and bobble.