Right....so what does Obama have to do with Red Velvet cupcakes? Not much, but bear with me, this is not a shameless attempt to attach the Obama name to my cupcakes just to attract attention...maybe.
Okay, so yesterday, Valentine's Day, was also tax day for me and Joe, our first year doing our taxes as newlyweds (exciting stuff). Something about Joe is that he's one of those guys who has "a guy" for everything; realtors, mortgage guys, accountants, contractors, etc. Well for his taxes his "guy" is actually a very nice woman, who works in Hyde Park (our President's previous home), which is in the south side of Chicago.
So at 9 am, yesterday morning, we were headed down to the south side to get our taxes done. Over time, I've grown to be more skeptical of Joe's "guys". Add the fact that I had to wake up early on Saturday morning and drive to the south side, let's just say I was not a happy camper. We get there and the tax lady is late for our appointment, we're told she'll be there in an hour.
Now I'm even more annoyed - I tell Joe I just want to go home and go the H&R block that is in our neighborhood. He convinces me to wait for her and now we have an hour to kill, and suggests that we find a grocery store to buy the ingredients for my cupcakes. Fine, whatever.
We start driving and immediately realize that getting around is not going to be easy, since Obama was back this weekend - there are police barricades all over the place. Turns out we were just a block away from his house.
Now, I'm just really laying into poor Joe about the whole thing. We get around the barricades and find a grocery store and Joe tries to turn things around by saying "I bet Michelle Obama used to shop here Mel, this was probably their grocery store! Your cupcakes are going to be special Obama cupcakes."
Whatever....he was trying, and I finally came around. The tax lady was fabulous and so were the cupcakes!
I found this recipe on The Way the Cookie Crumbles, Bridget had this amazing red velvet recipe comparison, so I followed her advice and chose the recipe from Apple a Day.
I followed the recipe exactly except:
1) I added a tbl spoon of baking soda instead of a tea spoon - on accident of course. The cakes puffed a bit more but otherwise this didn't have a big effect.
2) Instead of buying cake flour, I substituted with all purpose after doing some research, removed 2 tbl spoons per cup of the flour and added 2 tbl spoons corn starch. I'm not sure I'll do this again, because I could taste corn flavor in the final product.
3) Original recipe, below, is for a whole cake, so it needs less baking time, probably 15 - 20 minutes.
For the cake:
2½ cups cake flour
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
For the frosting:
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 ounces butter, softened
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1½ cups chopped pecans (optional)
1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt into a medium bowl.
3. Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
4. Divide batter evenly between 3 greased and floured 8″ round cake pans.
5. Bake cakes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let cakes cool 5 minutes, then invert each onto a plate, then invert again onto a cooling rack. Let cakes cool completely.
6. For the frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add sugar and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes.
4. Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate, level off with a serrated knife, and spread one-quarter of the frosting on top. Set another layer on top, level, and repeat frosting. Set remaining layer on top, level, and frost top and sides with the remaining frosting. Press pecans into the sides of the cake, if desired. **Tip: after leveling cake, turn it upside down to reduce numbers of crumbs. I also did a crumb coat on the outside, let it set for ten minutes, then finished with remaining frosting.
5. Chill for 2 hours to set frosting.