Sunday, April 6, 2008

Brooklyn Flea and Red Velvet

Brooklyn Flea and red velvet cupcakes: these are my two favorite things of the weekend.

Firstly, Brooklyn Flea. This is an incredible artisan market in Fort Greene, and if you live in Brooklyn (or Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, …) then you really must put aside a Sunday afternoon in the near future to stop by. It’s part antiquing and part local shopping with a very strong Brooklyn flavor. Today was opening day, and the variety of merchandise was only eclipsed by the personalities I met there; talking with the various vendors was an experience in itself. And to prove that it’s not just for Brooklynites, I was joined by a good friend who lives in Queens. After today, she has already promised to come down and visit me again soon so that we can return to the flea market. Here’s the website:

My second favorite thing of the weekend (or maybe additional favorite thing…I’m not sure I can give one rank above the other) is the batch of red velvet cupcakes I made on Saturday. In the morning, I found myself at Bed, Bath and Beyond (how very opposite to the ideals of the Brooklyn Flea!) with a store credit and a craving for something sweet. I walked out with a mini-muffin pan, a cake decorating kit, and the resolve to spend my lazy Saturday baking red velvet cupcakes: a dessert that I have come across with such frequency in cafes, bakeries, and cookbooks, that I feared if I did not make it soon, by the time I did, this trendy cake would be passé.

The recipe below is from Magnolia’s More From Magnolia cookbook, and can also be found on a wonderful blog that I frequent, Nosh With Me at

They turned out quite good, except that I found them to be a bit too overbearingly sweet (a phrase I rarely say). A slight decrease in sugar should help that out. Otherwise, they were moist and not too dense, and absolutely adorable as mini-cupcakes (though very yummy as regular-sized ones, also – I made a mix of both sizes). And, presented on a platter, they look positively pleasing to the eye, which I’m sure my co-workers will appreciate tomorrow morning when they see these in the office.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Yield: About three dozen regular-sized cupcakes


3 ⅓ cups cake flour (not self-rising)
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 ¼ cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons red food coloring
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners, or grease and lightly flour.

To make the cake: In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.

In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overheat.

In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cake has cooled, ice with cream cheese frosting.

1 pound (two 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened and cut into small pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat well. Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating continuously until smooth and creamy. Cover and refrigerate icing for 2 to 3 hours, but no longer, to thicken before using.

No comments: