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Red Velvet Valentine Cupcakes


Red velvet cake is a southern tradition and since making these cupcakes, I've discovered that it is a favorite among many people, especially my Aunt Phil. I find the addition of vinegar in the recipe a little weird, and have always wondered why it's needed. I decided to go straight to the guru on all things about cakes - Rose Levy Beranbaum.  Rose explains the reason for the vinegar in red velvet cake in her book, "Rose's Heavenly Cakes."  This is an awesome cookbook and I would highly recommend buying it if you love to bake.  

Vinegar, as we all know, is highly acidic. The white vinegar raises the acidity of the batter, and its addition intensifies the red color of the cocoa and of the cake.  The buttermilk in the cake is also highly acidic - but its acidity is counteracted by the addition of baking soda (i.e. sodium bicarbonate).  Rose adds that you can omit the vinegar if you substitute baking powder for the baking soda.  Baking powder is a mixture of dry acid or acid salts (potassium bitartrate) and baking soda, with cornstarch or flour. The acidity from both the buttermilk and baking powder makes adding the vinegar unnecessary. The recipe below is your basic red velvet cake recipe using the vinegar. I plan to try Rose's recipe (without the vinegar) sometime and you should too.

Makes 18 to 20 cupcakes.


  •     1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
  •     1 cup buttermilk
  •     2 large eggs, room temperature
  •     2 tablespoon red food coloring
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     1 teaspoon white vinegar
  •     2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  •     1-1/2 cups of sugar
  •     2 tablespoons dutch-processed cocoa powder
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     1 recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting



Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners

Step 2: In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

Step 3: In mixing bowl of electric mixer, beat oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth and well blended.  

Step 4: Scoop into cupcake papers, about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate the pan after the first 15 minutes of baking to ensure even baking.

Step 5: Allow to cool for one minute in the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 6:  Frost with cream cheese frosting.

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