Not long ago, Ben asked me what my favorite type of cake was.  Such a funny question.  You see, I make birthday treats all throughout the year for coworkers, friends, and families, always asking if they have a favorite flavor or what new type they want to try.  It is so much fun, and I enjoy nearly all of the flavor combinations that people pick.  Then when my birthday rolls around I tend to bake my own cake for the joy of trying some new, über decadent treat.  As a result, I just don’t tend to think about what my own true favorite is.  When Ben asked me, I really had to think hard about it for a while (okay, a few days).

It came down to a close decision, but red velvet with cream cheese frosting won out in the end.  I have made these cupcakes countless times this year, including as a three-tiered wedding cake plus 140 wedding cupcakes, and I’m still not sick of it.  That must mean something.  Some may think of red velvet as a Valentine’s treat, but for me this is a year-round type of love.  If you’ve never tried red velvet cake, you need to.  The flavor can’t really be adequately described, you just need to taste it to know.  I’ve made many versions but this is my favorite for sure, both for flavor and the perfect red coloring.  (And yes, I use the artificial coloring and I have no qualms about it.)  One thing I learned during the wedding cake and cupcake adventure is that using clear vanilla extract in the frosting makes for a prettier color and a better texture.  Normally I’m all about the natural stuff, but in this case I go for the clear kind.


For the cake:
2½ cups cake flour
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp. (1 oz.) liquid red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

To finish:
Cream cheese frosting 


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar.  Beat on medium speed until well blended.  Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

  • 02

    Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes.  Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • 03

    Prepare the frosting according to directions.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. (I used a large, unlabeled star tip to frost these cupcakes.)  Enjoy!