I thought everyone in the world had had their fill of red velvet by now, but it turns out my delightful coworkers were very taken by the colour of the cake and the cream cheese frosting.
Among the reactions were:
“When I move out into my own apartment, you’re going to be my roommate”
“I think I love you!”
“This is ridiculous.”
“Is that really the last piece?”
At the other end of the spectrum, my Organic Aunt, whom I gave five mini cakes to last evening, said no to the cream cheese frosting and took a microscopic bite (a crumb, perhaps) out of her husband’s cake, hemmed and hawwed while clutching her belly and said,
“hmmm…not bad, but Cedele’s one was so much better.”
Family. Always wanting the best for you.
Most of my cakes are hits or misses – definitely mostly misses. However, when I was baking this, I instinctively felt that it would come together really well. I wasn’t entirely sure if it was because I was following the recipe to a tee, or because the recipe is that amazing.
Hummingbird Bakery has become something of an institution in central London, having opened its first store in 2004. It is literally 20 feet from South Kensington station, and perpetually crowded, mostly filled with rich English housewives having a cupcake with a cup of tea, with their little sugar-saturated children in tow. I often preferred the vanilla cupcake (always with green frosting) for its simplicity and lack of overwhelming flavour.
Three years ago, on my roommate and her twin sister’s birthday, they both requested a red velvet cake from Hummingbird. Because it was her birthday, my other roommate and I obligingly said ‘yes’ despite our (now non-existent) aversions to sweets and got Rajeev to hand-carry the monstrous, seemingly overweight cake (in the grey rain, no less) from the bakery to the restaurant the party was at. Because the party was so small and each person could have easily had five pieces of cake, we had an endless supply of leftover red velvet.
As a result, I have never touched a bite of red velvet since. It has unabashedly taken me three years to overcome the red velvet overdose.
Three years. Until yesterday.
“That’s not a hamburger, Hamburglar”
Hummingbird Red Velvet
Taken straight from The Hummingbird Bakery – Cake Days: Recipes to make everyday special
Makes 12-16 cupcakes
- 120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 300g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 20g cocoa powder
- 40ml red food colouring (colour may vary)
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 240ml buttermilk
- 300g plain flour
- 1sp salt
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Cream cheese frosting
- 300g icing sugar, sifted
- 50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 125g cream cheese
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (375°F)
- Using a hand held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and flurry. Break in teh eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition and mixing in the scrapings from the side of the bowl.
- In a separate, small bowl, stir together the coca powder, food colouring and vanilla essence to form a paste. Add the paste to the batter, mixing thoroughly until the paste is completely incorporated.
- Sift together the flour and salt in another bowl, then add the flour to the batter in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk and mixing thoroughly after each addition. Lastly, in another bowl, mix the vinegar and soda bicarb together by hand and add it to the cake batter, mixing it in until it is fully incorporated.
- Spoon the batter into the paper cases so that they are two-thirds full, using any remaining batter to fill up to four more cases in another tin. Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until sponge bounces back when lightly pressed. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a short while in the tin, then place on a wire rack to cool completely before frostig.
- Using an electric whisk or mixer, mixing on low speed, beat the butter and icing sugar together until no large lumps of butter remain and the mixture is sandy in texture. Add the cream cheese and mix together slowly until everything is incorporated, then increase the speed to medium and beat the frosting until soft and fluffy.
- Cover all but one of the cupcakes with 2 tbsp of cream cheese frosting, smoothing it down with a palette knife and making a swirl in the middle for a decorative touch.
- Place the remaining cupcake in a food processor and blitz into fine crumbs, then sprinkle over cupcakes with the red crumbs. Or you can also use coloured sprinkles.