Red Velvet Cupcakes (from scratch!) with Cream Cheese Frosting


Two weekends ago The Whit’s office got a new coat of paint… or paints. We painted most of the room a beige called “Westward Ho” and used “Red Velvet Cake” as our accent color for one and one-third or so of another wall. Needless to say, the rich velvety red inspired me to bake after I got over the shock of seeing it all over my shoes.

I meant to bake these cupcakes last week, to up the already tangible WOW factor in the office and treat the newspaper’s staff. The November slump has hit them too, and I’m hoping the baked goods will be a pick me up. Unfortunately, my work load was not conducive to a leisurely Tuesday afternoon in the kitchen last week. Luckily, this afternoon was. Photos aplenty, along with the recipe, await you after the jump!


Here’s our cast of characters. As can be expected at Hungry Student, I have some ‘splaining to do about them. We have – White vinegar, milk, powdered cultured buttermilk, baking soda, red food dye, salt, two large eggs, sprinkles, shortening, cocoa, sugar, and vanilla extract.

I needed twice as much food dye as I had, but that stuff is so expensive that I just settled for the idea of a bright red cake instead of a brick colored cake. I forgot the flour. Silly me.

And the milk could have stayed in the fridge — the cultured buttermilk gets mixed with water, I found out. Although it would taste about as good as powdered milk does compared to real milk — YECH! — it gets the job done in baking.


The upside to this is that although it’ll take up a little room in your refrigerator, it’ll keep a heck of a lot longer than a container of real buttermilk. It is also a crucial ingredient for buttermilk pancakes, which you can make with the recipe on the back of the container. Mmmmm.

A word about the shortening: It looks harmless…



But turns into oozing fatty napalm if you heat it too quickly!! However, this applies when you’re melting it in a frying pan. So rest easy, your oven won’t be spitting flames.

Some of this lovely stuff, which can make cake mixes taste richer if substituted for the oil, gets this red velvet cake show on the road.


Here you’re looking at a cup of shortening creamed with with two eggs and one and a half cups of sugar.

All the mixing in this recipe was done courtesy of my trusty hand mixer –


It is decidedly less cool than the revered stand mixer, but it gets the job done. And weighs a mere fraction of its behemoth and pricey cousin.

Anywho, In a separate bowl or coffee mug…


we’ve got a WHOLE BOTTLE OF RED FOOD DYE and a teaspoon of cocoa powder. You’ll be surprised just how far this tiny bit of cocoa powder will go in flavoring the cake. It won’t be overwhelming, but who-da-thunk so little could taste so delightful? As mentioned earlier, I should have had two ounces of red food dye, but pushed on anyway.

After pouring this into the cream mixture, it was time to concoct some buttermilk.


Here ’tis. A light powdery substance. But when you follow these directions…


it becomes this!


One cup of what amounts to cultured buttermilk. I blended the powder into the water by holding a whisk the Boy Scout How-To-Start-A-Forest-Fire style. It took about a minute of high-speed whisking before it showed no signs of lumpiness.

Next, I added the flour and buttermilk in a little at a time, alternating to keep the batter from becoming too stiff or too soupy.



Sure. You could argue that this looks very pink. Maybe rose. Or salmon. Even the mixing bowl puts my batter’s color to shame. But food dye is expensive, and the cupcakes still came out delightful. (Hissy fit over color: over.)


See? Delightful little red cupcakes. Ready to cool and be frosted.


Like so! I was very close to making a white frosting from scratch. Don’t worry, it’s listed below for you diligent bakers. But just as I was getting out the necessaries, my roommate Renee came downstairs, opened a container of store-bought cream cheese frosting, stuck a knife in it and slid it across the counter to me. I took it as a sign and got to work.



Added some sprinkles for extra pizazz! And I’ll be sticking these candles…


into each one, since these are to commemorate our office’s “birthday” as a snazzy two-toned workplace.


No, silly. But I did only have enough muffin pans to accomodate twelve and not enough patience to do a few batches. The rest of the batter went into a loaf pan.


I figured it wouldn’t be right to fill the house with yummy smells and whisk ALL the goods away to the office tomorrow.

Here’s to a happy belated birthday for the revamped Whit office!

Red Velvet Cake

1 c. vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. cocoa powder
2 1/2 c. flour (Cake flour, if you have it. Regular flour, if you don’t.)
2 oz. red food coloring (Two, YES TWO, of those little bottles.)
1 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vinegar

White Frosting

2 tbsp. flour
1 c. milk
1 c. unsalted butter
1 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the shortening, eggs and sugar.
  3. In a separate, smaller bowl, mix together the cocoa and food coloring.
  4. Add the cocoa and food coloring paste into the batter. Then, sift together the salt and flour.
  5. Add the flour and salt to the cream mixture a little at a time, alternating. Add the vanilla extract.
  6. Fold in the baking soda and vinegar. If making one cake – pour the batter into two greased 9″ cake pans. If making cupcakes – batter will yield at least 24 cupcakes, or 12 cupcakes and one “loaf” sized cake.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until an inserted knife/toothpick comes out clean.
  8. For the frosting: Heat the flour and milk, blended together first, over medium heat until thickened. Let cool. Then, separately, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the flour/milk mixture to this and beat with a hand mixer.



3 Responses to Red Velvet Cupcakes (from scratch!) with Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Ms. Quigley says:

    That cupcake was amazing. Life-changing, even. I loved it. I scarfed it down very, very fast. So Stacy, if you need any more job references, or perhaps even some cash, I am here for you. Just keep making me these cupcakes.

  2. soulcookbook says:

    Nice job. I really like your blog and you seem adorable. I remember cooking in college and boy, did I make some interesting stuff! Good luck!

  3. […] blog now and I love the sassy-pants writing style. This week she treated the newspaper staff to red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing…a perfect way to increase productivity in the […]

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