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
Ah, holiday weekend! You were not long enough.
Since Dylan and I didn’t have any plans this weekend (except relaxing and being lazy), I saved my cupcake baking until Memorial Day. We started early in the morning, had the beer cracked open around 10:30 am! Now that’s how holidays are meant to be spent.
I wanted to make red velvet cupcakes as a test run… because in a few weeks we are making an order of 50 for a friend of Dylan’s at his work! That’s right, a paid cupcake-gig. How exciting!
I’ve been wanting to try Stone Brewing Company’s Smoked Porter, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to give it a go. I find that porter and chocolate go great together, so I used this opportunity to try it out. This beer is really good! The smokiness of the porter made it extra delicious. If you can get your hands on some, I highly recommend it.
The recipe I based my own recipe on called for the cupcakes to be baked at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. I put in my first batch and thought that was a really low temperature for baking, but I’d give it a try. After the 25 minutes I took them out and they all kind of fell flat! I was a little scared I hadn’t cooked them long enough (like some cupcakes in the past), but it was too late to do anything about them. For the next batch I upped the temperature to 350 degrees, baked them for 25 minutes and they turned out much better. It’s kind of weird what a difference 25 degrees can make, but it really made them taste much better. Also, I had no idea how much food coloring it takes to get the cake red. It’s a lot! I’ll have to get some more before I bake these again.
I’ve read that cream cheese frosting isn’t the traditional red velvet topper, but I went for it anyway. I had a lot of cream cheese in the fridge, plus it’s pretty much the best frosting ever. I do have a traditional red velvet frosting recipe, and I will have to try it some time (in the future).
I was trying to figure out what exactly makes red velvet cake different from just a non food colored chocolate cake, and I’m still unsure. There were a few ingredients that I haven’t been using in my recipes before, there was vinegar in this particular one, and maybe that makes a difference?