When I was trying to decide what kind of cake to make for the party, I had a flashback of a fabulous cupcake I had while visiting my daughter and her family last Christmas in London. It was a cold, crisp December day and I took Lilly's older sister, Annie on a "date". I picked her up from school and we hopped on one of the shiny red, quintessentially London, double-decker busses. We got off in the vibrant bustling Kensington area of London and set off on foot to find the legendary Hummingbird Bakery. I'm not sure what I expected, but we actually walked past the small store front three times before seeing the tiny sign above the door with it's beautiful namesake bird.
Though the outside is quite plain and unobtrusive, it's true what they say about not being able to tell a book by it's cover ........... when we entered the shop, it was like walking into a cupcake wonderland! Beautiful, perfect cupcakes of every shape and variety piled high with swirls of lovely, buttery icing and decorated to the delight of every imagination. It took Annie and I quite a while to make our choice but, with hot chocolate and cupcakes in hand, we found a little table and enjoyed a sweet time together.
I chose the Red Velvet because... well, just because it was so pretty but I was a little skeptical; in the past I have often found this variety to be somewhat dry and lacking in flavor. One bite of the Hummingbird Bakery cupcake, however, had my tastebuds exploding with delight - it was a moist, chocolatey and light - all at the same time. It was, to me, the perfect Red Velvet Cupcake!
- 1 ½ sticks butter 12 tablespoons, at room temperature
- 2 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 pound bag powdered sugar
- 2-4 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese on high speed for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl down as necessary. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and 2 tablespoons of the milk, mix to combine. Increase the speed to medium high and whip for a few minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary and adding more milk if needed to make an icing that is easy to pipe or spread over cupcakes.
- ½ stick 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons red food coloring
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons distilled white vinegar
Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Line a standard muffin/cupcake pan with liners.
On medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to high and add the egg. Scrape down the bowl and beat until well incorporated.
In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and red food coloring to make a thick paste. Add to the batter and mix on medium speed until completely combined. You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter gets color.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk. Add half of the flour and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining milk and flour. Beat on high until smooth.
Again, reduce the mixer speed to low and add the salt, baking soda and vinegar. Turn to high and beat for another couple of minutes until completely combined and smooth.
Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a thin knife or skewer inserted into the center of the largest cupcake comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes and then remove cupcakes from the pan and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.