Grandma Selph's Christmas Cupcakes

Today I want to share a very special recipe with you.  I haven't had this cake for years,  since I was a little girl.  This is my Grandma Selph's Red Velvet recipe.  

This is the first time I've made this cake.  I was afraid I would ruin the memory of Grandma's wonderful cake but I needn't have worried.  Her old, handwritten recipe worked a treat!  If you want to make a two layer Red Velvet cake instead of cupcakes, double the recipe.

This is a seriously RED Red Velvet cake, very light and moist because it is made with vegetable oil instead of butter.   Here are the ingredients you will need:

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons red liquid food colouring
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon cocoa
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the vegetable oil, food colouring and sugar.  Add the buttermilk, egg and vanilla, beat again until well combined. 

Sift the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl.  Mix until all the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet mixture. 

Line a muffin pan with paper cases and spoon in the batter.  I got nine regular sized cupcakes from this amount of batter.  

Bake at 350F/180C for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean.   Cool on a wire rack before decorating.

See how red they are!  Yes, there is an empty case.  It's called Quality Control!

While the cakes were cooling, I made some holly leaves and berries out of fondant icing.  

Grandma Selph would have used a cooked icing on her Red Velvet Cake but for cupcakes, I think Cream Cheese Frosting works best.   Pop on the holly and berries for decoration and you are ready to serve.

These cupcakes are for Sunday's afternoon tea, but I am sure Santa would love one of these, too.  He must get very tired of mincemeat pies!


  1. How wonderfully festive...and I love your Christmassy blog header too. It's so nice you've made your grandma's recipe...I'm sure she'd be very impressed with these! :-)

    1. Grandma was always very supportive and encouraged us to try new things, even when the new things were very old things like her recipe. I think these cakes will become a Christmas tradition at our house. : )

  2. Just beautiful and so festive! This recipe looks super-easy. Hand-mixing allowed!

    I've never worked with fondant. Do you buy it ready-made and colour it yourself?

    The other thing I really like about this Debs is that it just makes 9 cupcakes, perfect for one, er, two people. :-)

  3. Thanks Denise!

    I try to keep the cupcake count down when possible. This cake is fast and easy to make. I used a wire whisk and beat it by hand. The batter is very liquid due to the vegetable oil so no need for an electric mixer.

    I buy the fondant ready made and add paste food colouring, kneading it into the icing. Place the fondant icing between two pieces of plastic wrap and roll it out very thinly before using cookie cutters to make the shapes. Easy Peasy!

    There is enough sugar and food colouring to fuel a rocket in this recipe, but it's SO good! : )

  4. Wow - that is red! Love the simple decoration; you've kept it so clean and classic it looks really high-end

    1. Oh thank you! That is high praise indeed coming from such a talented baker. : )

  5. And there was me thinking red velvet cake was a recent rage! I do like your Christmassy cupcake cases too.

    1. I have tried to find the earliest Red Velvet cake recipe and failed! The Waldorf Astoria in New York was serving a Red Velvet Cake in the 1920s. Some say it goes back much further than that and the red was a result of using beets in the cake batter.

      The origins of my Christmas cake cases can be traced.... Waitrose! : )

  6. I made these this afternoon and iced them with your "no recipe" cream cheese frosting and we absolutely love them. At the last minute my husband asked me to make extra for tea tomorrow for his fishing mates but I didn't have quite enough colouring for double quantities. So they were a little on the pink side, rather than red, but it didn't matter one bit.

    1. Your comment made my day! I have seen blue velvet cakes and green velvet cakes so I suppose any colour would work as long as they taste good.


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