Friday, October 15, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes and Scarlet Yarn

This scarlet yarn is my second spinning project I've completed thinking, 'ohhh, I really want to make myself a sweater with this.' It's a natural colored wool I spun into a three-ply yarn, and then dyed a wonderful scarlet red velvet color -I absolutely love it. Unfortunately, there is not enough of it (probably not enough) to make a sweater big enough for my full-figured self.

It's OK. I have gotten over my dissappointment and am now spinning a new yarn that I really think will (probably) be enough to finally knit myself a sweater. I really love this red yarn which makes me think of Red Velvet Cupcakes. Last summer at the Snohomish Farmer's Market for several weeks, my yarn booth was placed next to Mr. Pinks Sweets and Treats booth. The baker and owner, Ashley, who's baked goods are absolutely adorable and so is she, told me her Red Velvet Cupcakes are her most popular item.

There's nothing like unpleasant manual labor on my horizon to seriously bring on the urge to bake, so yesterday, despite having a nasty cold and with my barn cleaning chore looming over me, I decided to finally make these cupcakes.

I had never made a Red Velvet Cake before, so I decided to halve a recipe for a 2 layer cake to make just a dozen cupcakes. These were super easy to make and the cupcakes baked beautifully. This recipe is everything you want in a cake or cupcakes: tender, moist, flavorful and visually quite lovely. I am a serious chocolate lover (more and darker is my usual attitude) but the understated chocolate taste here is really good.

Many recipes use a basic cream cheese frosting on these cupcakes, which sounds perfectly yummy -and that's just what I'm going to do the next time I make these. The recipe in my cookbook uses an old-fashioned cooked vanilla frosting, the traditional one for this cake. Being a bit low on cream cheese, and not wanting to drive to the store, plus really being in the mood for some seriously old-fashioned baking, this quirky old recipe appealed to me and I proceeded. It sounded simple: mix milk and flour, cook and stir it till it thickens, then cool it before adding it to A LOT of butter beat with powdered sugar. I'm not sure what, but something went horribly wrong after I added the milk mix -and the frosting seperated. This caused me to say some BAD WORDS. Rather pissed, I put it all in the fridge. After some thought (I'd softened the butter in the microwave and maybe that was my problem), I decided I'd MAKE the frosting behave. I added all the powdered sugar I had in the cupboard and beat the daylights out of the now chilled frosting, which eventually resulted in a workable and quite tasty frosting. Next time though -I'm going to use a cream cheese frosting.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from: Great Cakes by Country Living (A really great cookbook despite my frosting debacle)
makes 12 cupcakes (double recipe and bake 30 minutes to make a 2 layer 9-inch cake)
1/4 c. soft butter
3/4 c. sugar
2 egg yolks
Scrape. Beat. Add:
2 T. cocoa
1 1/2 T. red food coloring
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
Add alternating:
1/2 c. buttermilk or (I used) 1/4 c. each yogurt and milk blended together
1 c. + 2 T. cake flour
Scrape. Mix. Dissolve:
1/2 t. baking soda in 1/2 t. white vinegar
Add and blend until smooth. Fill 12 paper-lined muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake 350 degrees for 16 minutes or until toothpick tests done. Cool on wire rack. Frost.

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