babycakes comes home – Red Velvet Cupcakes

babycakes comes home – Red Velvet Cupcakes

I’m a cookbook lover, and I buy them for a few reasons. Some have great practical recipes that I can use repeatedly. Others come out for special occasions and casual get-togethers. Then there is that very important group—cookbooks that I find inspiring, whether from the author’s story, the presentation and photos, flavor combinations, or special ingredients that propel me from just reading to standing in the kitchen checking the pantry and creating a shopping list for my version of the recipe.

Ever since my friends have increasingly become vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free consumers, I naturally have become interested in the alternate baking. But I’ve been disappointed by most of these butter-free, eggless bake goods I’ve tried—they’re tasteless and have the lightness of a brick.

Then Erin McKenna appeared on the Martha Stewart show, promoting her new book and making beautiful cupcakes. Given the fame of Erin’s Babycakes Bakery, I thought that maybe she had a better approach. I immediately ran out to purchase the cookbook.

Babycakes Bakery Cookbook fell into the category of inspirational recipes, but ones I didn’t jump up to try. Although the cupcakes on the show looked heavenly, I had never tasted one at that point. In addition, if I took the recipes literally, I had none of the ingredients required to produce these goodies and would need to build up a vegan pantry from scratch. Since most of the ingredients were more expensive than their classic baking counterparts, I hesitated.

Then, we set foot in the Babycakes wonderland in Oct. (See previous post from October 16th, 2009). After my first taste, I ran out to get the ingredients to recreate the Red Velvet Cupcake.

The recipe required a couple of adjustments. As I discovered, coconut oil comes in solid form and needs to warm up slightly to a liquid stage before you can incorporate it into the recipe. Then came the challenge of the frosting. The recipe said the vanilla frosting needs six hours to set, so I intended to make it in the morning and bake the cupcakes in the afternoon—in time to bring them to my vegan friends as a surprise treat. The cupcakes looked and smelled amazing when I pulled them out of the oven. After the cooling stage, I proceeded to take the frosting out of the refrigerator to paint these babies. Surprisingly, the frosting was still at the stage of wobbly custard, much too runny to top a cupcake. I decided to put the frosting in a small container and allow my friends to spoon it on the cupcakes like a preserve or jam.

They were wowed. As they passed the spoon around to scoop into the frosting, something miraculous happened. The frosting started to thicken. I thought that it was the room temperature that made the frosting come together, but if so, why was six hours of refrigeration necessary? On my way home, I got it. I took the remaining frosting from the fridge and started to stir it vigorously. Thick vanilla frosting.

Making these vegan bake goods is like learning to bake for the first time. It’s exciting, full of small revelations, and completely worth any momentary confusion.


Red Velvet Cupcakes


Red Velvet Cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup of rice milk
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3-1/4 cups whole spelt flour
  • 1/3 unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1-1/4 cups agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons natural red food coloring, or more, do not exceed 6 tablespoons or batter will be too wet.
Vanilla Frosting/Vanilla Sauce

Note: This frosting is thick and creamy, and left unrefrigerated it becomes a vanilla sauce. Babycakes also recommends using the frosting as a sweet butter on savory bites like corn bread and biscuits.

  • 1-1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk
  • 3/4 cup dry soy milk powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour (this is essential as a thickener for the frosting)
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups coconut oil (warm slightly to achieve liquid state)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Red Velvet Cupcakes

1. Preheat the oven to 325℉. Line 2 standards 12 -cup muffin tins with paper liners. Pour rice milk and apple cider vinegar into a small bowl, but do not stir, set aside to develop into ‘buttermilk’.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla. Pour wet ingredient into  the flour misture and stir to combine. The batter will be thick. Using a rubber spatula, add the ‘buttermilk’ and mix just until combined. Slowly add red food coloring by the tablespoon till you get a deep red color.

3. Divide batter into each prepared cup, almost filling it. Bake the cupcakes on the center rack for 24 minutes, rotating the tin 180 degrees after 14 minutes. The finish cupcakes will bounce back slightly when pressed, and toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.

4. Let cupcakes stand in the tins for 20 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely. Using a frosting spatula, gently spread 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla frosting over each cupcake. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Vanilla Frosting/Vanilla Sauce

1. In a blender or a food processor (I use my trusty Blendtec blender), combine soy milk, soy powder, coconut flour, agave nectar, and vanilla. Blend the ingredients for 2 minutes. With the machine running, slowly add the coconut oil and lemon juice, alternating between the two until both are fully incorporated. Pour the mixture into n airtight container and refrigerate for 6 hours or up to 1 month.

*If you plan to use it as a sauce, store the mixture at room temperature for up to 1 week.

recipe adapted from babycakes