And my love for my nephews and niece is as fierce and passionate as the color red. They are the best part of everyday of our lives ever since each of them was born. All of you who have nephews and nieces will know exactly what I’m talking about. Every woman has a maternal instinct, for some it’s stronger than others and one does feel love for one’s own child there is no doubt about that. But what an aunt feels for her nephews and nieces is something altogether special. I love them in an indescribable way and they love me back with so much enthusiasm and energy that it’s hard, nay impossible, for me to deny them anything….anything at all!
So when my eldest nephew, Zuhayr, asked me to bake him a red velvet cake or cupcakes, I did just that :). It was an Eid surprise for them as we were leaving them in Dubai to spend Eid all by themselves while we had a whirlwind trip to Doha. My sister later told me that my niece, Naa’irah took my words literally and didn’t let anyone touch the cake till Eid morning! Kids! But no worries there since the boys devoured the cupcakes as soon as I brought them in through their door, boys! The three cake toppers of “Love you” were one for each of my nephews and niece. Mr. Mazhar walked into our kitchen, saw the cake with the cake toppers and said, “You made this love-you cake for me?”. I was so wrapped up in packing for our trip to Doha that my thoughtless response was, “Of course not, you don’t like cake!”. Really bad move on my part but I tried to make a quick recovery by telling him that I had made his favorite biryani for dinner! That brought the smile back on his face… Phew! dodged a close one there 😉
Back to business… I’ve tried out a couple of red velvet recipes, from the Food Network, BBC food, allrecipes.com, even Nigella but I have to say my favorite results come from the recipe shown in Masterchef Australia; I forget which season. It’s moist and not too dense in the center. I’ve tweaked around with the ratio of cocoa and red food color just a little because some recipes asked for way too much color and it’s never a good idea to have too much of an unnatural product. Most of my family and I, we don’t like too much icing on cakes so the real test that this recipe passes for us is that we don’t need much of the cream cheese frosting to make this cake palatable. In fact we pretty much do with out it and the cake is just yummy on its own. For us any ways! Do give it a try for your loved ones. It is a special treat. Enjoy!
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups castor sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 2 large eggs (approx. 70gms), room temperature
- 2 tbsp red food color
- 1 tsp white distilled vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract OR 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenhiet and line 2 muffin pans with cupcake cases or butter and line with baking parchment one 23cms round springform baking tin.
- Sift together all the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
- In a large bowl, gently beat together all the wet ingredients with an electric beater.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix until smooth and throughly combined. The batter may seem a bit runny but don’t worry. Pour the batter into the baking pan of your choice. In the case of cupcakes bake them for 20-25 minutes and turn the pans halfway through the baking time. If making a cake then bake it for about 40-45 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the center comes out dry. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the sides of the springform. Carefully remove the cake from the base onto your serving platter.
In case you can’t find buttermilk at your grocery store, you can make your own in just one simple step. In a measuring cup pour 1 tbsp of white vinegar and then measure out milk to the 1 cup mark. Let this mix stand for five minutes. It’s absolutely important that you let the mix just stand. Don’t stir it with a spoon or even swivel it around the cup. The vinegar and milk need to get to know each other in complete silence. Five minutes later you have buttermilk. I usually start the recipe by turning on the oven and making the buttermilk. Then I measure out the rest of the ingredients, by which time the buttermilk is ready. It works every time.
If you and yours truly like icing on the cake, here is the basic recipe for cream cheese frosting.
- 450gms cream cheese, softened
- 220gms un-salted butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 4 cups icing sugar, sifted
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the vanilla essence and fold through.
- Sift in the icing sugar while beating the mixture on a low speed until it is well incorporated. Then increase the speed of the beater to high, mix until light and fluffy. Using a spatula frost the cake on top and around the sides. If you like you can cut the whole cake through the middle and use some of the icing to create a layered cake.
Happy baking, everyone!