Red Velvet, with beets?!
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