Everything old is new again: red velvet cupcakes

by Patricia on April 5, 2009 · 13 comments

Red velvet cake. It’s a Southern classic.  But one of those classics that I took for granted all those years growing up in the South. (I am from Savannah, Georgia and it doesn’t get much more Southern than that.)  But my mom is Korean and so I never really thought of myself as “Southern”.  At least not until I moved to California. It seems like the absence of things I took for granted made that Southernness start to surface. Things like: Chick-fil-A, good biscuits, fried shrimp (don’t get me started talking about Savannah shrimp vs just about any other kind.  Really, just don’t), barbecue and red velvet cake.  

I watched as Krispy Kreme doughnuts swept the nation.  People would rave about the new doughnut shop that opened, but I was just excited to be reunited with the reason I was late to high school at least a few times a week. Once I was old enough to drive myself to school, my chronic tardiness began to shine through.  It’s one of those things I’ve fought as an adult because in business it is less acceptable.  But it is a lot of work for me because I am naturally wired to be 5-10 minutes late.  Add a Krispy Kreme with its beautiful red “Hot Now” sign conveniently on my way to school, and well… let’s just say I’ve eaten a few doughnuts.  I also had to serve detention for racking up so many tardies.  But it was worth it. 

So a couple years ago, when I started to hear about red velvet cake as the new “it” cake.  I just had to smile.  I love red velvet cake.  And Sprinkles has a mighty fine one.  But my mom’s will always be my favorite.  My mom went through a baking phase when I was in high school.  She had her 3: carrot cake(her favorite), pound cake (my favorite), and red velvet cake.  I can remember coming home from school to find one of those three in the cake dome on the table.  Everyday.  (Well, everyday in my memory doesn’t necessarily mean it was everyday in reality.  But it was a lot of days for sure).  Between the Krispy Kremes for breakfast and big slice of cake for an after school snack, it is amazing I didn’t gain weight, but I guess that is one of the wonders of being a teenager.

I was home for a visit when my cousin was pregnant a couple of years ago and she was having a big craving for red velvet cake.  She had gone to Publix and tried their red velvet, but it wasn’t good enough.  She wanted my mom’s red velvet cake.  So my mom obliged and made her a cake.  And it was as good as we all remembered.  I’m lucky to have my mom’s 3 cake recipes tucked away.  I’ve tried to make all three and have been happy with the results.  The recipes are tried and true, but when I make it it lacks that little extra something that you can only get when it comes from your mom’s kitchen… but then I’m not sure how to replicate that.  I’m just happy to be be able to make a close second.

My afternoon snack

Red Velvet Cupcakes (adapted from “Teri’s Red Velvet Cake” aka the recipe my mom uses)

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 ounce red food coloring (about half of a small bottle)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa, sifted
2 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1 1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl (the batter will be very liquid).

3. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 – 3/4 full.

4. Bake for about 18 minutes.

5. Frost with cream cheese frosting (and if you want to be really classic, add pecans to the frosting).

Makes 15-16 cupcakes

Note: I sprinkled the tops with chopped dark chocolate.  I also stirred some of that chocolate into the last bit of batter (I had already baked off 12, and had a little batter left).  The dark chocolate chunks mixed into the red velvet cake was magically delicious.


1 Maree December 20, 2009 at 7:16 am

There is a little hole in the wall place in Savannah that I just discovered last week and they make a Red Velvet Cupcake that is to die for…….and I’m not kidding! It is called Just Desserts at Skidaway and Derenne area. I HIGHLY recommend you try it, if it is Red Velvet you are looking for. You won’t be disappointed…..that is if you can get one before they sell out for the day.

2 Patricia April 14, 2009 at 6:00 am

@Gaby – let me know how they come out. My diet is forever on hold…

@Molly – I have heard of Magnolia… heard good things about their cookbooks but I’ve never been or tried anything from their books. I put some chocolate chunks in a few of the cupcakes I made and they were really good. I do like the classic red velvet cake with pecans in the icing but I’m not necessarily a purist. Besides I’m open to chocolate with just about anything :)
[I switched to wordpress because I wanted to host my own blog so I could have more control… I’m only kind of a control freak. haha. I’ll take a look to see if there’s a way to add a preview for comments]

3 Molly April 8, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Oh, man. I *heart* red velvet. Here’s another one I’m gonna have to try.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it, but there’s a famous bakery in NYC called Magnolia Bakery. (I believe it was featured in “Sex and the City”.) When my family and I were there, we tried different goodies from Magnolia, including their “famous” red velvet. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed. On the other hand, there’s a chain here called Nothing Bundt Cakes, and I do like theirs. It’s moist and yummy. They actually put a few chocolate chips in, too, which I think is good. (Not sure if you’d think that’s a no-no, though!)

I’m looking forward to your mom’s carrot cake recipe! A good carrot cake is at the top of my love list, too. :-)

[BTW, it’s kinda weird how WordPress doesn’t let me preview my comment before submitting. I hope HTML tags are acceptable! Out of curiosity, why did you switch?]

4 Gaby April 8, 2009 at 12:32 am

YUMMMM… red velvet is my favorite! I am going to try these soon…GOODBYE DIET!

5 Idgie April 7, 2009 at 6:40 pm


Dew on the Kudzu is an Ezine for all things southern. We have a recipe section for Southern yummies. But your post is also a story, which we also love!

Take a look at the Dew and send me an email – I’d be interested in using this piece over there.


The “Dew”

6 Patricia April 7, 2009 at 5:33 pm

@qudz104 – Thank you so much. I think I’m blushing now :) I hope you find a little time to relax and if baking is relaxing for you then bake as well. Definitely let me know how the recipes work out for you. And good luck with school!

@Karlene – You are absolutely right. There is no replacing your mom’s love. No one else notices if I make my mom’s recipes, but I can always taste a subtle difference. Even a sandwich seems to taste better when my mom makes it. haha.

@RecipeGirl – My mom got this recipe from a friend of hers in Savannah about 20 years ago. There’s no telling how long it was kicking around in their family before that. I made a couple of small adjustments to make cupcakes instead of a layer cake but the taste is the same. Let me know how it turns out for you. :) (I saw your cheesecake recipe and bookmarked it to try. I may have to try that soon)

7 RecipeGirl April 7, 2009 at 2:54 pm

My ABSOLUTE favorite cake ever. Every time I see it in a bakery, that’s what I try out :) Love to have a tried and true from a Mom, so thanks! I did a Red Velvet Cheesecake last Christmas that was quite unique and delicious as well.

8 Karlene April 6, 2009 at 6:31 pm

What is missing is what is missing when I try to make my mom’s pie crust…LOVE. You can’t find that in any store. I have developed my own recipe over the years. My kids say it is better then my mothers. I think it is because there is no substitute for the chief ingredient my love. I like my pie crust, I think my mom’s is better. I guess we never take for granted our mother’s love. Not really.

9 qudz104 April 6, 2009 at 4:52 pm

hi, i just wanted to say that im sooo happy i found your blog, its excellent!! ive been saving your recipes, and while i havent tried to make any yet (pharmacy school!! aahh) im def going to during my summer break. i love your blogging style, and ill def comment on the recipes i attenpted.. i hope they come out even slightly like yours! keep up the good work!! <3

10 Betty R. April 5, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Ok… where’s my cupcakes???

11 Patricia April 5, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Dan ate them all. Haha :)

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