“When the Red Velvet cupcake first hit the market about eight years ago, it was a quiet little sleeper,” said Bobbie Lloyd, president and chief baking officer of Magnolia Bakery. “But now it’s picked up a huge following.”

Magnolia is one of many city bakeries to offer customers Red Velvet cupcakes and cakes — sold whole and by the slice.

“They are always available and always selling,” said Lloyd.

Magnolia’s cake is topped with a whipped vanilla icing that complements the cake’s delicate texture. Other bakeries use buttercream frostings.

Magnolia uses a combination of vinegar, cocoa and baking soda to achieve the cake’s brick red color.

A little history:
Way before becoming a NYC bakery staple, recipes for Red Velvet cake were popping up in 19th century cookbooks.

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Though there’s no consensus on where exactly it came from, Red Velvet cake is believed to be a Southern specialty, with the red color often coming from beets (now most bakeries use food coloring).

Some credit the crimson-colored cake’s popularity to the Waldorf-Astoria, where it was a signature dish in the 1920s. If rumors are to be believed, the hotel charged a guest $100 for its Red Velvet cake recipe — she responded by publicly exposing this recipe.

Recipe: Magnolia Red Velvet Cake with Whipped Vanilla Icing

3 1/3 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. Grease and lightly flour three 9 x 2 “round cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper circles (or wax paper). If making cupcakes, line 2 dozen cupcake liners with paper liners.

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 until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat 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. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

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 overbeat.

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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 to make sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.

Cakes: Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

If making cupcakes: Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.


Magnolia Bakery Whipped Vanilla Icing

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6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium-size saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and stirring constantly, cook until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to bubble, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Place a piece of waxed paper directly on the surface and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, on medium high speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously for 3 minutes until fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat well.

Add the cooled milk mixture, and continue to beat on the medium high speed for 5 minutes, until very smooth and noticeably whiter in color. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes (no less and no longer – set a time!) Use immediately.

We recommend the red velvet at....

Tribeca Treats
94 Reade St., 212-571-0500

Amy Ruth’s Harlem
113 West 116th St., 212-280-8779

Betty Bakery
448 Atlantic Ave., (between Bond St & Nevins St), Brooklyn, 718-246-2402

Billy’s Bakery
184 Ninth Ave., 212-647-9956

Sugar Sweet Sunshine
126 Rivington St., 212-995-1960

Amy’s Bread
Various locations. Go to amysbread.com

Various locations, go to crumbs.com

119 Seventh Ave., 212-414-1717

Daisy May’s BBQ
623 11th Ave., 212-977-1500

Magnolia Bakery
Various locations, go to magnoliabakery.com