Red Velvet Cake and S’mores Cupcakes


Red Velvet Cake

I doubled the quantities and made a slightly ridiculous three-tiered birthday cake.

Makes: 12

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

You will need

60g unsalted butter at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 egg
20g cocoa powder
40ml red food colouring
½ tsp vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk
150g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½ tsp white vinegar
1 x 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases

For the frosting:
300g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold

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Method

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

2. 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.

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3. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a very 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.

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4. 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 bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes.

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5. Meanwhile, make the frosting by beating the icing sugar the remaining 20g of the unsalted 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 it until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least five minutes. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.

6. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, 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. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the cream cheese frosting on top.

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Tips: To make a red velvet cake instead, double the quantities below, divide between three 20-cm cake tins and bake for 25 minutes at the same oven temperature.

S’mores Cupcake

For the sponge:
30g (1oz) dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), chilled
5 digestive biscuits
80g (3oz) unsalted butter, softened
280g (10oz) caster sugar
200g (7oz) plain flour
40g (1 1/2 oz) cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
240ml whole milk
For the topping:
200g (7oz) caster sugar
4 egg whites
100g (3 1/2oz) dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids),
broken into squares, to decorate
Blowtorch (optional)
Mine didn’t work as the sugar hardened too quickly so I made vanilla frosting instead.
1. Preheat the oven to 170C (325F), Gas mark3, and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.  Use the finest blade of a cheese grater to shave the chilled chocolate, then set aside.  Crush the biscuits in a food processor with the blade attachment or in a plastic bag using a rolling pin.

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2. Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt on a low speed until resembling fine breadcrumbs.
3. Mix the eggs and milk by hand in a jug, then pour three-quarters of this into the dry ingredients and mix on a low speed to combine.  Increase the speed to a medium and mix until smooth and thick.  Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the remaining milk mixture and keep mixing until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth.

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4.  Fill each paper case two-thirds full with batter.  Sprinkle the chocolate shavings and three-quarters or the crushed biscuits on top of the cupcakes, reserving the remaining biscuit crumbs for later.

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5. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until well risen and springy to the touch.  Leave to cool slightly, then remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

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