Monday, August 24, 2015

(Dye-Free) Red Velvet Cake

Bobby loves red velvet cake.... but he is allergic to red dye.  Over the last two years, I've experimented and we've ended up with pink cake or a spice-brown cake... But never "red" cake.  Poor Mr. B. begs for "red" cake and each time he asks, I've been stuck saying no. :(

I was discussing this with a friend of mine who is a professional baker and she started researching why this was happening.  She came up with a few sites, one of which mentioned that the cake needed to be acidic in order to keep a red color.  While I didn't care for the original recipe because it was a pound cake base (which my family isn't huge on), I decided to modify my cake recipe but create the "red" as the blogger recommended.

So, I made the cake yesterday and it was huge hit!  Half of it is gone, and it stayed RED!!!!


1.  I roasted about a half dozen beets (varying in size from small to medium), well washed, skin on, and diced in 1/2 cup of water at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.  Once they were out of the oven, they cooled for two hours.  The pieces were put in a blender with 1/3 cup of lemon juice and 1 tbsp white vinegar, then pulsed until the texture of stage 1 baby food. 

2.  In a stand mixer, I created a twist of my standard white cake, sans sugar since beets add their own.  (Want to cheat?  You could use a high quality, white boxed cake mix for your dry ingredients, but it will be sweeter since sugar is already a part of the recipe.  Just make sure the leavening is NOT baking soda based.)  2c A.P. flour, 1tbsp baking powder, 1tsp salt,  6oz plain Greek yogurt, 1tbsp vanilla, 3 eggs, and 1/4 cup of plain cocoa powder (NOT processed- so no alkaline chocolate or dutch processed chocolate... sounds nuts, I know, but the cake needs to be acidic.)  You wont add any water or additional liquid.  Add the beet puree, which will add the remainder of your "liquid".  I found that the puree I made was in between 1.5 and 1.75 cups.  (I'm an awful measurer.) 

I greased three 8" rounds and the cakes looked like a reddish-fuscia when they went in the oven, which was way better than anything I'd done before, but I remember thinking wasn't as perfect as I'd hoped.

Oh me of little faith.  I checked on them at 10 minutes and they had definitely deepened in color.  By 18 minutes, when I pulled them out to cool, they were red.  I let them cool on the counter while I made my cream cheese buttercream frosting, with enough to do a three layer cake.  I mixed 2 sticks of softened butter (1 cup) with 8 ounces of cold cream cheese, and alternated 4 cups of powdered sugar with enough whole (raw) milk to make the correct texture.  (I'll guess between 3/4 cup and 1 cup total). 

When the cake was fully cool, I dirty iced it and put it in the fridge to set for half an hour before removing it and completing the icing.  It stayed in the icebox until dinner started, when I pulled it out to come up to room temperature.  Bobby did the honors by cutting into it and red it was!  The cake was decimated in silence at the table, and I've already been asked to work on a "blue" velvet cake for Maya (purple carrots maybe???).



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