The original plan was a guest post on red velvet cake by my talented older cousin, Martha. Earlier in the year, she was on the road to becoming the world’s first, foremost and possibly only red velvet cake expert, having been set the challenge of perfecting it for a friend’s wedding cake. However, that experience all became too much for her and she began developing post-traumatic stress-like symptoms at the sight of a bottle of red colouring.
On top of that, she got distracted by some kind of race, started writing her own blog (more on both of those in a later post) and red velvet went out the window.
Fast forward to Halloween: I wanted to make something gory and festive to mark the occasion. Red velvet cake, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, is supposed to be layered with cream cheese filling and basically tastes like chocolate cake. Don’t be freaked out by the use of vinegar, it and the buttermilk are supposed to bring out the red colour even more. It is actually quite a useful recipe for novelty cakes: you could adapt the decorations for Christmas, for example, or a “We love Cork” party. The first I ever heard of it was in the film Steel Magnolias, which had the ugliest cake in the world, a red velvet monstrosity in the shape of an armadillo.
Anyhoo, here is my recipe for worm-infested bloody red velvet cupcakes. Enjoy, if you dare!
120g unsalted butter (softened)
300g caster sugar
2 large eggs
20g cocoa powder
40ml red food colouring liquid/heaped tsp of paste/goop
1 tsp vanilla essence
300g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp wine vinegar (I used red because that was what I had)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the topping (almost the same as the frosting for Guinness and chocolate cupcakes):
100g unsalted butter (softened)
600g icing sugar
250g full-fat cream cheese
Red jelly string sweets (like these), chopped into worm-like lengths
Preheat the over to 190 degrees Celsius and line your muffin tin (I got 18 cupcakes out of this recipe).
With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until they are completely combined. Break the eggs in one at a time, beating the mix between additions and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
In another bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, food colouring and vanilla essence to make a paste. If you are using the red colouring goop, you might need to add a couple of teaspoons of water to make the paste come together. This is the messy step, very satisfying but caution is advised if you are working on a pale surface. Whoever thought white was a suitable colour for a countertop! Add the paste to the batter, mixing thoroughly.
Mix the flour and salt together in another bowl and then add to the batter in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk and mixing thoroughly after each addition.
In one last bowl, mix the vinegar and bicarb of soda by hand and add to the cake batter. Give it another good mix.
Spoon the batter into the paper cases, so that they are about two thirds full. Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when you poke it. Once out of the oven, allow them to cool for a while in the tin and then on to a wire rack while you make the icing.
Beat together the butter and icing sugar until you have a sand-textured mix. Add the cream cheese and mix together slowly until everything is combined, and then pump it up a notch until the frosting is nice, soft and fluffy.
Use about 2 tablespoons of frosting for each cake and smooth it on top with a knife. I always have far too much frosting left over, but have seen people eating entire spoonfuls straight from the bowl, so it won’t go to waste.
And here is the finished product, with the “worms” coming out of the frosting.