First, I have to say that I LOVE my new kitchen!
It’s quite a change from my previous kitchen, as seen here .
It was definitely easier to bake in the new kitchen. Mr Shuck could actually come into the kitchen with me. I didn’t have every available counter space covered in baking stuff. An added bonus: all of my stuff fits in the kitchen, so no trips up and down the basement stairs retrieving supplies.
So, I’ve been wanting to attempt a naturally tinted Red Velvet cake since I first started baking. I have never enjoyed Red Velvet because I’ve always felt like I could taste the red dye. Maybe it was all in my head.
I would like to say that I figured this all out for myself, but I wasn’t willing to invest that sort of time for my first baking project in months. Fortunately, Jamie over at Sophistimom had already done the research for me.
For the most part, I followed her recipe, but made a few minor changes: Someone who commented on her post recommended using buttermilk instead of cream cheese, which I did. Many of the comments were that the cake was very dense and I was hoping for something lighter. I thought that swapping out a liquid for a semi solid would help with that. Buttermilk is also pretty acidic, so I thought that would help keep the beets bright. I also ended up with only 1 cup of beet puree from my bunch of beets. I did not use her cream cheese icing recipe. Traditional Southern Red Velvet cake is topped with a light and fluffy icing that’s made with a base of cooked flour and milk (like gravy) that’s mixed into whipped butter and sugar. I first used it to make a lighter cream cheese icing here and later in my Caramel Popcorn cupcakes.
Sophistimom’s All Natural Red Velvet Cake, modified
3 medium-ish beets (which resulted in 1 cup of puree)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 sticks, unsalted butter @ approximately room temperature
2 & 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (homemade)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 and 1/2 heaping teaspoons baking POWDER
1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 heaping tablespoons Hershey’s natural cocoa
1 recipe “gravy” frosting
Sophistimom’s recipe instructed me to “Preheat oven to 350 degrees (165 degrees celsius). Place beets in a small baking dish and add a 1/2 cup of water. Cover with parchment paper and foil, and roast until quite tender, about 60-90 minutes. Allow to cool completely.” I didn’t want to wait around the house for an hour or two, so I wrapped the beets in some foil, dumped them into a mini crock pot, and went furniture shopping for 4-5 hours. When we returned the beets were very tender. After the beets cooled, I chopped them up and put them in the blender with the lemon juice and vinegar and pureed until smooth.
Next, I preheated the oven and started setting out liners in mini cupcake pans. While the oven preheated, I creamed together the butter and sugar using the paddle attachment on my Kitchen Aid. After it was nice and fluffy, I added the eggs one at a time.
While the wet mixture was going, I mixed together the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa. I also poured the buttermilk in the messy blender (after removing the beets) and ran it for a few seconds to get more of the beet pulp out of the blender.
I alternated adding the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl with the now bright pink buttermilk. After this was mixed thoroughly, I added the beet pulp and mixed by hand until uniform.
I added the batter to the tins using a little scoop. Initially, I filled them up only 2/3 full as I didn’t know how much they would rise.
The 2/3 full batch didn’t rise very much…
I unwrapped all of the short ones and have thrown them into the freezer. I’ll make cake pops out of them one day soon.
I’m not really familiar with my oven yet. I thought I set the timer for 15 minutes, but apparently didn’t. I think they baked for about 15 minutes or until the tops sprang back when poked with my finger.
For the icing:
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup superfine sugar
Mix the flour and milk in a saucepan with a whisk until flour is dissolved. Heat over medium high heat until mixture thickens (about 10-15 minutes). Remove from heat and pour into a bowl, cover with waxed paper (or plastic that doesn’t melt) and allow to cool to room temperature, then cool in refrigerator.
Beat the butter well until fluffy using the whisk attachment. (I actually ended up adding about 1/2 of a container of whipped cream cheese…to get it out of the frig). Add the sugar and beat on medium high speed for 6 minutes (or until white and fluffy and sugar is dissolved).
Add the cooled “gravy” to the butter mixture and whip until well combined and fluffy.
I’ll be distributing these at work on Monday and hope to provide feedback afterwards. I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out, especially since I haven’t baked in a LOONG time.
Thanks again to Sophistimom for all of her work! The cake turned out really moist and fluffy. Without the icing, it has a slight “earthy” taste from the beets, but is still very good and definitely very colorful. I’m not sure if it’s red, purple or magenta, but it’s pretty!