Easy Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe

easy simple red velvet cupcake recipe with cream cheese frosting home bake instructions and basic ingredients gel food colour

Red velvet is an American-originating fast-becoming cake classic. A lot of recipes make things more complicated than they need be – but these are quick, simple and just as tasty, without the complications of buttermilk, white wine vinegar, or anything else that you don’t know even where to start looking in the supermarket for. Topped with a cream cheese frosting, these are a sure fire hit for all kinds of parties, kids and adults alike, Halloween, Christmas, or anytime in fact for a quick chocolate fix!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ingredients (makes 6 medium or 4 large cupcakes)

60g butter
60g sugar
1/2 teaspoon good quality vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon red gel food colouring – liquid colours will not work
10g cocoa powder
50g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg (medium or large)
Pinch of salt

Method

– Beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
– Add the egg, food colouring and cocoa powder, and beat until well mixed.
– Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl, and carefully fold in.
– Spoon into cupcake cases, and bake at 180 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes, dependent on size, until they are firm and springy when pressed lightly with a finger .

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The tang of a cream cheese icing is a perfect complement to the sweet cupcakes, but you could of course use something else. White chocolate? Milk chocolate? Chocolate chocolate? 🙂

Cream Cheese Frosting

35g cream cheese
10g butter
100g icing sugar

Simply beat together all the ingredients in a bowl. Don’t over mix or the cream cheese might go runny – if this happens just refrigerate for 15 minutes before putting on the cupcakes.
Cream cheese makes for quite a sticky icing so it’s not really worth trying to pipe it. A simple spread over with a knife and you’re done!

I topped mine with some red velvet cake crumbs, you can either trim a small amount off the top of one of the cupcakes, or separately bake a tablespoon full in a spare cake case. Any leftovers are great for taste testing!

red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting icing and matching cake crumb topping easy simple recipe uk ingredients without buttermilk chocolate and vanilla

And inside – a light, fluffy cupcake, vibrant red in colour but with subtle flavours of vanilla and chocolate.

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Allotment Retirement Cake

happy retirement dad allotment celebration cake garden soil pumpkins courgettes carrots and cabbages easy fondant leaves

A couple of weeks ago my lovely Dad finally left his job of many, many years. As we’re still working through the great glut of pumpkins he gave us, what better than to make a cake with his own home-grown produce! He is an avid gardener and I’m sure will be spending a lot more time on the allotment from now on.

I used the same recipe as my Halloween Spiced Pumpkin Cake from a few weeks back, covering it in chocolate buttercream to imitate the soil. The vegetable patch I actually found quite easy to make – colouring up fondant in different greens and an orange, shaping, slicing, scoring the pumpkins, and shading the courgettes with a fine paintbrush.

fondant allotment vegetable patch cake pumpkin courgette carrot cabbage

fondant vegetable patch on allotment cake cabbages carrots courgettes and pumpkins autumn harvest

The finished vegetable patch – with the fondant simply ‘planted’ into the allotment by pressing gently into the still-wet chocolate buttercream.

allotment vegetable garden cake chocolate icing for soil and fondant decorations pumpkins courgettes carrots cabbages perfect for retirement fathers day dad ideas

For the personal message on the cake, feeling less than confident with free-hand writing onto the cake, I used a matching piece of chocolate fondant, pressing in letter stencils before piping over with a light green icing.

happy retirement allotment gardeners cake stencil lettering

And to finish, matching ‘Dad’ personalisation on green fondant leaves set onto the cake board.

happy retirement dad cake with stenciled lettering personalised gardener with fondant leaves chocolate icing

A simple but pretty quick idea that I’m really pleased with the result of, and of course a very Happy Retirement to my Dad! I’m sure there’ll be more garden-produce bakes coming this way as he spends more time nurturing the allotment…

happy retirement dad allotment cake with vegetable patch personalised fondant details

Low Fat Key Lime Pie

key lime pie recipe and method adapted from great british bake off ryan low fat simple

A couple of weeks ago, we had company for Sunday dinner and of course I wanted to make a great dessert. Rob had been watching the 2012 catch up program of The Great British Bake Off, and his eye’s lit up at Ryan Chong’s Key Lime Pie. Of course he then turned to me and asked what on earth a key lime pie was, but that’s another story. As you read through you’ll realise it’s not actually far off a cheesecake recipe – with the addition of the meringue topping.

This is my adaptation of Ryan’s recipe – as “one of the best things the judges have ever tasted” it didn’t need much adaptation, just substituting a few ingredients for their lower-fat counterparts to save a few inches on the waistline! I opted for a biscuit base rather than pastry, I’d like to blame this on time pressures but mostly it was laziness….

Ingredients

Base
300g low-fat digestive biscuits
2 pieces of stem ginger
75g reduced fat spread

Lime filling
2x 400g tins light condensed milk
240ml lime juice – I used 2 fresh limes + some bottled
Lime zest – Ryan suggest 7 limes which seems a lot! I used 2
3 pieces stem ginger, finely chopped
4 egg yolks

Italian meringue topping
4 egg whites
225g sugar

Method
– To make the base, put the biscuits and ginger into a blender and pulse to fine crumbs
– Stir in the melted butter, and press firmly into the base and part way up the sides of a 7-8 inch springform tin
– Bake at 180 degrees for 10 minutes, remove and leave to cool

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– For the filling, simply combine the condensed milk, lime juice & zest, and egg yolks, in a large bowl, and which for 3 – 4 minutes until it starts to thicken

– Stir in the stem ginger pieces, and pour evenly over the base, smoothing the top

key lime pie recipe pouring creamy filling over base low fat showstopper alternative

– Bake at 170 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, until the top is solid, it doesn’t need to be completely set, but not liquid
– Remove from the oven and cool in the tin. Cool in the kitchen for at least an hour, before chilling further in the fridge, overnight ideally. Once completely set it should start to come away from the edge a little.

set lime layer of key lime pie pulling away from edge of tin how to tell if it's done

– Carefully remove from the tin – it should come away easily – and put to one side

key lime pie easy out of the tin well compacted biscuits wavy edged set creamy filling ginger

The Italian meringue topping is made with a hot sugar syrup which cooks the egg whites as you whisk them together, so there’s no need to bake. You do need to multi-task on this bit – the sugar syrup took around 7 minutes to boil, and the eggs maybe 3 or to whisk. The eggs need to be ready as soon as the syrup is hot enough

– Using a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are light and form soft peaks, holding their own shape
– Put the sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan with 6 tablespoons / 100ml of water, over a medium heat. Allow to boil without stirring, until it reaches 120 degrees. It’s not as quick a process as you might think, mine took about 8 – 10 minutes to get hot enough.

kilner sugar thermometer easy to use boiling to 120 degrees hard ball for italian meringue

– Take the sugar syrup off the heat, and immediately start adding to the egg whites. Pour in a slow but constant trickle, trying not to directly hit the whisks or the hot syrup might splash back

italian meringue easy recipe adding boiling sugar syrup to beaten egg whites in a stand mixer

– Continue beating the meringue mixture for 3-4 minutes until it’s smooth, creamy and thick
– Transfer to a piping bag, and pipe on top of the lime base. Whilst Ryan used a ring around the outside edge, I opted instead for a star nozzle and swirl pattern in the centre of the pie

piping italian meringue swirls onto key lime pie cheesecake type recipe easy gbbo low fat adaptation

– If you have one, finish off by lightly toasting the outside of the meringue with a blowtorch. Move quickly across the meringue, don’t hold still in one place or it will burn. If you don’t have a blow torch, the meringue is already cooked so it’s by no means essential. You could finish with a sprinkling of icing sugar, or perhaps some lime garnishes.

using a blow torch on italian meringue atop low fat key lime pie recipe and method with crystallised ginger

blowtorch results on top of key lime pie finishing off italian meringue piped swirls

Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve – I made mine the same day but the leftovers tasted just as good the day after!

Cut inside – you can see the 3 distinct layers, a crunchy base, creamy filling, and rich meringue topping.

slice of low fat key lime pie ginger biscuit base condensed milk filling toasted italian meringue topping