Red Velvet Cupcakes

Photo of three Red Velvet Cupcakes with sprinklesGrand Old Flag
I think it’s fair to say that most people will be celebrating the Fourth of July next Monday. How they are celebrating is a totally different question. Some will have backyard BBQs with family and friends. Some will watch parades and wait for the fireworks in the evening. Others will look forward to some downtime in the pool and a day of doing nothing. If they happen to catch a few fireworks in the sky, so much the better.

Not sure which camp I fall into. All of them sound good. But, I can’t deny the appeal of the latter. The last couple of weeks have been a bit crazy. As of this moment, there are no set-in-stone plans. We may go to our local parade if only to absorb a little small town Americana. Or not. There might be a BBQ with friends. There may also just be my husband and me sharing a rack of ribs al fresco. What I do know for certain is that there will be a flag cake. It might be small. It might be big. But, there will be a flag cake.

In my family, it’s not Fourth of July without a flag cake. The type of cake varies from year-to-year. But, the frosting on the top is always cream cheese. And, there are always berries—raspberries and/or blueberries.

Because plans are sort of up in the air this year, I might go with red velvet cupcakes instead of a sheet cake and arrange them to look like a flag. The recipe is the same, but the cooking time changes a bit. This way if it just ends up being the two of us, I can make a smaller batch and finish them with a couple of blueberries on top so the red, white, and blue is covered.

Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Yields about 24 cupcakes

For the Cake
Nonstick baking spray
2-1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 whole eggs
1-1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1-1/2 ounces red food coloring
1 cup shortening
1-3/4 cup granulated sugar

For the Frosting
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar (not powdered sugar!)
Red, white, and blue sprinkles or raspberries and blueberries for decorating

For the cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line two muffin tins with paper or silicone cupcake liners.

Make the batter
Sift together the cake flour and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowle stir together the buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda, and eggs. Add the vinegar and stir. Set aside.

In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa and red food coloring. Set aside. Cream together the shortening and sugar until fluffy. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk/egg mixture until all combined. Pour in the red mixture and beat until combined.

Bake the cupcakes
Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pans about four-fifths of the way full. Use the back of a spoon to even out the surface.

Bake for 11-13 minutes and check for doneness for standard-sized cupcakes. They may need to go back in the oven for a couple more minutes. (Adjust a couple of minutes down for mini cupcakes and up for jumbo cupcakes.)

To tell if your cupcakes are done they should have risen nicely, a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, the top springs back when gently touched, and the kitchen should smell amazing!

Remove the pans from the oven and allow the cupcakes to cool in the pans until they are easy to handle. Then remove the cupcakes, still in their wrappers, and allow them to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting
Make the frosting
Combine the flour and milk in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk constantly until thick. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Add the vanilla once it has cooled.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cooled milk mixture and beat very well. If it looks separated, continue beating until fully combined. It should be fluffy and light, similar to whipped cream.

Frost the cupcakes
Frost the cupcakes by piping the frosting through a pastry bag and top them with sprinkles or berries.

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