Sunday Sweets: Red Velvet Cupcakes (Hummingbird Bakery style)

Story time:

When I went to London in December 2011, I had one of the greatest food experiences of my life. My friend had told me that I absolutely had to go to Portobello Road and buy a red velvet cupcake from the Hummingbird Bakery. I originally thought, ‘if I get there I get there, if I don’t I don’t, it’s just a cupcake.’ BUT OH how wrong I was.

I knew for my first time in London that I wanted to go to Portobello Road, probably because of that song in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, a movie that I adored when I was younger. Anyone know what I’m talking about?

red velvet cupcake

Anyway, as I was strolling down Portobello Road I walked straight past a bakery, but then backtracked and thought, ‘Hm, this is cute, I’m going to check it out.’ Low and behold, it was the Hummingbird Bakery. I’d completely forgotten that I was supposed to go there, but obviously the cosmic gods decided that it was imperative that I find it.

After one bite of their red velvet cupcake I was a goner. It was too delicious for words. Especially the cream cheese frosting. Drool is currently escaping from my mouth as I think about it.

So when I came across an adapted version of the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook on Brown Eyed Baker’s  website, I knew without a doubt this was something I had to make. I almost cried with joy. Almost. I was skeptical that the Hummingbird Bakery red velvet cupcake could never be created in a mortal kitchen. And I was right. BUT, this recipe is still pretty darn good.

Please, for my happiness and for yours, try this recipe. AND if you ever travel to London (which you all really should do), please I beg of you, go to the Hummingbird Bakery and try one of their red velvet cupcakes. I promise, your life will be changed.

Ingredients for cupcakes

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons red food coloring
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup + 2 tablespoons plain
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons distilled white vinegar

Ingredients for the Frosting 

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups powdered/icing sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C (350 F). Line a standard muffin/cupcake pan with liners.

2. On medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer to high and add the egg. Beat until well incorporated.

3. In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and red food coloring to make a thick paste. Add to the batter and mix on medium speed until completely combined.

4. Slowly add half of the buttermilk. Add half of the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining milk and flour. Mix until smooth but do NOT OVER MIX.

5. Add the salt, baking soda and vinegar and mix until totally combined.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the largest cupcake comes out clean.

7. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove cupcakes from the pan and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting (I’m impatient and put them in the fridge to cool so I can get to the icing process faster!)

8. To make the frosting: Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese on high speed for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl down as necessary. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Increase the speed to medium high and whip for a few minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary.

9. Use a spoon or a piping bag to add the frosting as desired.

red velvet cupcake


Well … they’re no Hummingbird Bakery. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t delicious! What I love about red velvet is that it’s not overly sweet. There’s not a lot of sugar and most of the flavour comes from the cocoa. Now, loyal followers would know I love sugar, and lots of it. However, the cocoa and sugar balance in these cupcakes is quite delicious.

AND the frosting … oh my the frosting is amazing. The recipe I followed said 2 1/2 cups of icing sugar but I’ve amended it for you guys to just 2 cups as the extra half a cup was a bit too sweet. I did find that the frosting was a bit runny so I couldn’t pipe it onto the cupcakes and make it all pretty. But that’s OK, it’s the taste that counts, right? I’ve read around the wonderful interweb that this frosting has the tendency to be a little runny and it just takes practice.

Either way – great recipe, yummmmmy cupcake – please try!


6 thoughts on “Sunday Sweets: Red Velvet Cupcakes (Hummingbird Bakery style)

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