Baking flail: when things go wrong… (Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing)

Last weekend, I had a baking flail. In fact, the only reason it wasn’t an all-out fail was because I learned a thing or four while I stuffed up. Both taste and look took a hit, I’m afraid – but I am very thankful that not a word of criticism was uttered by the receivers of said baking flail, the morning congregation at our church. Sometimes you have a dud and you just have to make the most of it, so I’m glad that they were still eaten up! I feel that you need to see these pictures, whether you’ve had your own baking failures, or if you’ve never set foot in a kitchen for fear of failing, fear no longer…and join the club!!!

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

I tried a new-to-me recipe for red velvet cupcakes: Garrett McCord’s recipe at Simply Recipes. I used his suggestion of adding a tablespoon of distilled vinegar to a cup of milk to make my own buttermilk. I also roughly followed his instructions for the icing, and needed all 3 cups of powdered (Kiwis read icing) sugar, sifted first. Sifting icing sugar is a good habit to get into – it really helps keep icing/frosting consistent. Garrett’s icing recipe made enough to pipe rosettes onto all the cupcakes.

All up, I was disappointed: the cupcakes were too firm (not velvety) and not really a decent red colour. I’m not ready to recommend this recipe yet. Perhaps some of you could have a go and let me know what I did wrong

I could have accidently over-mixed them using the ‘folding’ function on my mixer; it’s a fairly universal baking fact that small cakes need the barest of mixing to keep them aerated enough to rise into light and fluffy morsels.

Another possibility is that I simply over-baked them.

Colouring the cupcakes was about the only thing I managed to not OVER-do! I didn’t have a lot of liquid red colouring so tried to use my gel colour instead, but found out that it didn’t blend in very well; the ingredients in a mixture like that are too heterogeneous in texture and consistency so the gel didn’t have as much effect. Note to self for next time!

Without sounding like too much of a downer, the icing even when pear-shaped. I made the mistake of using low fat cream cheese for the icing. Taste-wise, I know well myself that low fat cream cheese is always a poor cousin to the full fattier version. So as a punishment for my lesser fat crimes, the icing started to separate due to the insufficient fat content.

Insufficient fat content made the icing separate (not properly mix) and crack along the edges of the rosettes

Isn’t it great that you can learn from my mistakes? 😉

And flailing all, just remember: a multitude of ills can be covered by edible glitter!!! Really popular with kids (little AND big!) 🙂

I promise there will be a less ‘flailing’ post to come shortly to show that success can be just around the corner…



3 thoughts on “Baking flail: when things go wrong… (Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing)

  1. Hey Cheryl – that's a good point, I didn't really say did I! I'll go back and elaborate – along the lines that they were a mix tough (not-so-velvety) from overmixing and the colour wasn't really red enough. I love doing the rosettes, but it was a pity that the icing separated into the coloured sugar and the white cream cheese – kind of ruins the nice smooth effect I was going for. But I'm glad you like the look of them 🙂 I'm sure you could rock something like this!


  2. Ah, colouring a red velvet cake… Lots of colour involved as I recall! Like nearly a whole bottle of the liquid colouring.

    Oh, you know I didn't even notice the lumps in the icing. They kind of look like pearls in the photo. Must be the distraction of all that lovely edible glitter!


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