You’ve seen it every where, red velvet this, and red velvet that. If you have red food coloring, you can have red velvet anything, or so it seems. I’m not sure why this bugs me so much. Go ahead and call me a hypocrite, we sell a red velvet cupcake. It seems red velvet is a very popular flavor right now, which got me to thinking, where did it come from?
From what I’ve read, there was a time that food coloring wasn’t actually used in this recipe. The red was attributed to the reaction of the cocoa powder (not dutch processed) and the acid used in making the cake (in this case, lemon juice). During World War 2 they even used beets to add the red color into the cake. In modern times, we use red food coloring, and it takes a lot to turn the cake red.
I’ve been wanting to try and make a red velvet cake without food coloring, so I set out to do just that this weekend. This weekend is a special occasion, our blog is turning 1 year old! I can hardly believe it’s been a year of cupcake experiments! I think a great way to mark the occasion is to share this recipe with you.
I looked at a bunch of recipes online for a red velvet cake using beets, and took the items I liked best from each and created a recipe from that. I’m actually not a fan of beets, I think they smell and taste like dirt, but I like to try new things, and was willing to give this a go. We had a bottle of Boundary Bay’s Irish Red Ale in the refrigerator and decided it would be perfect for this experiment. It’s a great beer, and really, we just wanted to drink it. (But hey, it is red, so it works, alright?) We love our Boundary Bay beers.
These cupcakes turned out interesting, to say the least. They are definitely moist, and also the beets make it very dense. The color is a deep reddish brown, and the taste is… well, it kind of tastes like chocolate covered beets, but not in a bad way! You get the hint of earthiness from the beets (along with the beautiful color), but you also get this soft chocolate flavor that goes well with it. This is probably the most moist cake I have ever baked, which adds to the whole experience. I’m still formulating my opinion on these, but they are definitely not your average red velvet cake.
Here’s the recipe if you’re brave enough to give this a try:
Red Velvet Beet Cake
1 15-Ounce can sliced beets, drained
1/4 cup – 1/2 cup beer
1/3 vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons natural cocoa powder (NOT dutch process)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line cupcake pan with paper liners
2. In a blender (or food processor) combine can of beets (minus the liquid) and 1/4 cup of beer. Blend well until smooth, probably 2 minutes, depending on how powerful your blender is. Add egg, oil, lemon juice and vanilla to blender, blend for another minute until all is combined. If it’s too thick for your liking, add more beer.
3. In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Pour blended ingredients into bowl and combine with a whisk or rubber spatula until mixed well together.
4. Put about a 1/4 cup of batter into each cupcake paper, bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Wait until cupcakes are completely cool, then top with desired frosting. We used cream cheese frosting, which is quite delicious!
This will make about 18 – 20 cupcakes. Happy baking!
- Jackie & Dylan
Our favorite day in March is rapidly approaching, St. Patrick’s day! We started this blog almost a year ago, and to get into the holiday spirit, we made these Chocolate Potato cupcakes, inspired by the traditional Irish dessert.
For the beer this week, we were lucky enough to receive a bottle of Boundary Bay’s Imperial Oatmeal Stout from Dylan’s dad (who lives in Bellingham, where Boundary Bay is located). I wish we could find Boundary Bay’s beers in bottles here, this beer is fantastic! You can find some of their beers on tap around Spokane, so we’ll have to settle for that.
I know we did a sweet potato cupcake last year, so I was pretty sure that a potato version was going to turn out just fine. I was a little worried after last weeks cupcake experiment, I didn’t want two bad posts in a row. Thankfully, the potato and chocolate cake turned out fabulous. These cakes are dense and hearty, pretty sure it has something to do with the riced potatoes that I put in there. Ricing potatoes without a ricer is a bit time consuming though, I had to run those bad boys over our tiny cheese grater to make sure there were no lumps. They have just a slight hint of chocolate flavor, despite the 2 1/2 ounces of baking chocolate I put in them (also grated the chocolate over the cheese grater, when will we ever invest in a food processor?!).
To top them off I went with a classic cream cheese frosting. I was not going to try and get all fancy this time, and I stuck with what I know. It was a good choice. The frosting doesn’t overpower the cake, which lets the cake flavor be the most prominent.
Next week, if you’re in the Spokane area, you should join us at the #foodie tweetup going on over at Launchpad on Monday, March 12 from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm. We’re going to be using you all as test subjects for a new flavor we’re working on, plus there will be all kinds of other cool people there with tasty treats to share (Savor Sweets and Farm Girl Gourmet, plus wine pours from Nectar Wine!). I can’t think of a better way to spend a Monday evening, hope to see you there!
- Jackie & Dylan
This past week Dylan and I were up in Bellingham, WA visiting his family. We wanted to make cupcakes while we were there since his family hardly ever gets to try them, so we baked a (rather large) batch this past Saturday. We wanted to use a local beer and one of our favorite places to go while we’re in Bellingham is Boundary Bay. Their beer is a necessary Bellingham experience whenever we’re over that way. We used their Ski to Sea ESB in a cupcake before, so why not try another one?
We headed over there and got a sampler of beers when (through some tweets & some pints) we got the idea to use Boundary Bay’s IPA in one of our cupcakes. Apparently a lot of people assume that their IPA is too bitter to bake with, but I wanted to prove them wrong. The cake flavor idea came about the next day while we were in a grocery store (can’t remember the name of it) and I picked up a couple bars of Theo’s Spicy Chile. It’s a dark chocolate with that little bite of spicy chile. I used the chocolate to make a delicious ganache and paired it with a basic yellow cake made with the IPA.
I have to add in here that Dylan’s folks have the most amazing oven (a convection oven) and it heats up to temperature in about 10 minutes. My oven at home sometimes takes about 30 to 40 minutes to get fired up to 350 degrees … a little sad in comparison! Anyways, I baked them in the convection oven and I think they turned out slightly overdone, so I will have to make them again (oh darn).
Despite the oven stuff, these actually turned out really well. The basic yellow cake (the batter was SO delicious, by the way, Dylan’s mom can attest to that) really complimented the little bit of heat you got from the frosting. I also sprinkled a little cayenne pepper on the top for added kick.
These cupcakes were a great idea, and I look forward to baking them again. Likewise, I look forward to getting some more Boundary Bay IPA because it is very delicious and one of my favorites that they have on tap. If you’re in the Bellingham area, make sure you stop in and have a pint, it’s so worth it!