Not So Red Velvet Cupcakes

At the weekend, I attempted some red velvet cupcakes. I’ve heard a lot of good things about these, and they look so pretty so I thought I’d give it a go!

I say ‘attempted’ as they didn’t turn out as planned. Don’t get me wrong, the cupcakes tasted delicious, but they weren’t red – they were just good chocolate cupcakes!

After heading to Twitter to rant, I found out that natural food colouring doesn’t work and actually, I need a much stronger paste. Anyway, I’ve learnt the hard way, and next time they WILL be red! Fellow foodies have recommended a Sugarflair Christmas Red paste so I recommend you use one of these too.

I didn’t take too many photos as they didn’t look very attractive but if you want to make red velvet cupcakes, here’s the amended recipe:

Makes 12-14


  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 40ml red food colouring paste
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 120ml buttermilk
  • 150g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1½ tsp white vinegar

For the frosting:

  • 300g sifted icing sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 125g cold cream cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3 and prepare a 12 hole cupcake tray with paper cases.

2. Add the butter and sugar to a mixing bowl and beat well with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well.

3. In a separate bowl mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a thick paste. Add this to the butter mixture and mix well until everything is combined and coloured.  Slowly pour in half of the buttermilk (60ml).

4. Beat the ingredients until well mixed, then add half of the flour (75g). Mix together and repeat the process until all the buttermilk and all of the flour has been added. Make sure the mixture is smooth and even.

5. Add in the bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar. Beat for a couple of minutes.

6. Spoon the cake mixture into the paper cases (about two thirds full). Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting by mixing the icing sugar and butter together so it combines. Add in the cream cheese and beat well until light and fluffy. This may take 3-5 minutes. Tip: Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.

8. When your cupcakes are ready, check that the sponge bounces back when you touch the top. Leave the cakes to cool before turning out onto a wire rack.

9. When the cakes have fully cooled, spoon over your icing and decorate with sprinkles or whatever you wish!


4 Comments Add yours

  1. NickkiT says:

    It took me a few attempts to get a true red velvet cake – that Christmas red paste is the best shade I’ve tried. Wilton colour paste “Red Red” also works very well!

    1. Kelly says:

      Thanks Nickki, I have ordered the Christmas Red so will try again!

  2. Becs says:

    Last time I made red velvet cupcakes I also used the red paste, even that took a lot of paste to get a good red colour, more than I have used to dye anything else!

    1. Kelly says:

      Hi Becs, I know, I kept adding and adding and nothing was happening!

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