Beet It, or Beet Velvet Cake

Slaveboy was really sweet to clean one of my baking drawers. I had spilled meriwhite in there and in a head-in-the-sand ostrich way, I simply abandoned using the drawer. Not long after handing the task of organising my baking stuff back to me, I had to call him back to fix a plastic bit of the Kenwood mixer that I broke in my mad, panicked cleaning frenzy. Slaveboy is the superglue pimp. It is the answer to everything. We have a special surface where all the children put deposit broken toy cars, dolls' limbs and eyeballs, broken spine of a favourite book, busted belt buckle, snapped handbag clasps. All waiting to for the special glue. Other families have special ouchy cream. We have superglue. So in my mad, cleaning frenzy, I found my Steenbergs jar of beetroot powder. I am a sucker for jars. The only time I have used this powder was when I made beetroot pasta.

It got me thinking about red velvet cakes, and my love/hate relationship with it. I reckon Spiker thinks I am a cake heathen for even eating it but I am drawned to the colour. The thing that puts me off from making it is the fact that some recipes tell you to use 2 fl. oz. of red food colouring. Waaaay too crazy amount. Seeing that Google is a friend to ALL of us, I had a look for alternative recipes and found this one. It sounded feasible enough. I wasn't too sure that the cake was going to taste like red velvet cake seeing that it called for a hefty amount of beetroot powder. But it was Friday, and I was feeling brave, plus I'm getting a new oven. And I bought two tops I actually liked yesterday. In a smaller size. It felt like the stars have aligned themselves right today. So off I went to dirty the kitchen some more and mess up my orderly baking corner.

So the egg yolks and half the sugar and the buttermilk goes into a bowl over pan of simmering water.

I'm really bad as I never write down the recipes I try out, I just rest my ipad against the toaster and cover it with cling film. This photo is prior to the cling film fetish adornment.

You whisk the egg yolks, and sugar and buttermilk til they mix almost triples. I actually didn't have buttermilk so subbed with equal amount of milk with vinegar added to it.

I think at some point, I added my home made vanilla extract. I try to remember to not add it to anything too warm as that will affect the extract.

Add the other half of the sugar to the egg white and whisk it. Don't forget the cream of tartar.

It was all a blur, I tell you.

I love these guys. They look like butter wouldn't melt in their mouths. So prim and proper.

This is what they look like after a really good night out.

Add the egg white mixture to the yolk mixture. At this point, it looks absolutely delicious. Gloopy, glossy and made a whack-whack sound when folded to fast.

The flour, cocoa powder and beetroot powder mixture. I strongly recommend sifting the mix. Beetroot powder appears like it clumps easily. Just fold it into the wet mixture.

I assure you, the mix this look like this. Bright and almost luminous. In the oven at around 175c, or if you've got my oven, just throw salt over your shoulder, cross your fingers and hope that the temperature stays relatively constant.

20 minutes later, they ought to be ready.

I wasn't too happy about the browning around the edges and tops. I think next time (if there is one, I would probably use a baking strip or wet folded newspaper and cover it. I'd have to bake it for longer but it would mean that the cakes would colour less. I whipped some double cream with vanilla extract and icing sugar and sandwich the cakes together. I didn't have cream cheese in the house and in retrospect, I think cream cheese frosting would soften the beetroot flavour. It tasted earthy, and I certainly think it would benefit from being a tad bit buttery (the recipe doesn't call for butter so I might rework the recipe). As opposed to conventional red velvet cakes where I struggle to taste the cocoa powder, you could taste it in this recipe.

Texture was beautiful. Moist, light and fluffy but not wimpy. You know what I mean by wimpy cakes, so light that it's made with just flour and air. But you wanna hear about the colour, dontcha? It was definitely red. Just not bright red. However, I liked this red. It looked edible. Would I bake it again? Hmmmm. Not unless I plan to rework the recipe. Slaveboy loved it for its earthiness. The children didn't really ask for seconds, the Small Shouty one said it tasted too red and Potato Bottom claimed that it was slightly akin to chilli chocolate (??). I also thought it left a strange, dry tingle in my throat, despite the silky cream filling. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


I forgot something..

You know I told you about the burglary we had? Well, I forgot one minor detail.. They almost went off with my Willie's Cacao block. For those who don't know what it looks like, I googled a photie for you.

It's usual residing place was next to my Kenwood mixer on my baking work surface. We found it on the windowsill. In their drunken haze, for they must have been drunk to have taken my washing up liquid, they must have taken it thinking it was something else. The cold Southern softie winter must have knocked some sense into them and they must have come to the realisation that it'll be a long time before anyone would start selling gold foil wrapped wacky baccy hash in Waitrose.


Making Whoopees

Sigh. Whoopee pies. So what is the big deal? I LOVE the idea of cupcakes. Done well, they are just frivolous and flamboyant. So much avenue for creativity, from the choice of cases, to the cake flavours to the piping of the frosting and selection of decorations. Whoopee (?Whoopie) pies on the other hand is a bit bleuurgh. They look like someone had overfilled their muffin tins, ended up with muffins that wouldn't shift from the tin and they ended having to be lopped off in order to extract the bottom half of the muffins. I thought I would give it a go anyway, and I have been working on some ideas of fillings and cake flavours. I felt it would be prudent if I started my experiment with a tried and tested cake recipe. As always, I forgot to take photos of the process. I would encourage you to try out this cake recipe as it is easy peasy and I doubt many would struggle to find the ingredients. You don't even need eggs for it so it's practically vegan/dairy-free. Get yourself some Pure spread and add to the buttercream mix some home made caramel syrup extract and you would have a really scrummy vegan treat.

Woo hoo. Check out my new cooling rack. 7 years of baking and I've just got my first cooling rack. Who knows, next year, I might splash out on a balloon whisk!!

Aesthetically, I would like rid of that muffin top rim. My children on the other hand loved its crunch factor.

The filling was piped using a 1M tip. Apologies for the rubbish photo, the flash kicked in obliterated the dark cakes in he photo.

I am not happy with how the tops have volcanoed. I think it has got something to do with the fact that my oven has a dodgy temperate gauge and I have been relying on an oven temperature.

Aawwww, it looks like lips!!! It had a lovely brownie type slight crunch to the outside and the inside was light and moist. The filling was not too sweet and it just melted with the whoopee pie beautifully. A bit like eating a pavlova, you know you are eating a good one when you don't know when the meringue stopped and when the cream started. Recipe (borrowed from David Lebovitz and adapted a little) 1 cup of water 1/3 of vegetable or sunflower oil 1tbsp of white vinegar 1tsp of vanilla extract Mix the above in a measuring jug. 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour (use plain flour and sub the last 1 1/2 tbsp. with cornflour - why exactly I don't know, I reckon Joe Pastry would be able to explain the science) 5tbsp of cocoa powder (please avoid instant drinking chocolate) 1/4tsp salt 1 cup packed light muscovado sugar 1tsp instant coffee Mix the dry ingredients well. Take the wet mixture and fold it into the dry ingredients. Take great care in not over mixing as you'll end up with a dense cake, err whoopee. Buy yourself one of those inexpensive whoopee pies tin from Lakelands or you could pipe the mixture out into 2 1/2inch rounds. However, there are disadvantages two both methods. Use a tin and you can end with a muffin top effect (like I did as I wasn't really sure how much you should fill the holes). If you decide to pipe them on, you gotta be aware of the mixture's flow velocity (yes, that is a real baking term) or you'll end up with rounds that don't match. As I said, I used a tin and tried twice before the baby needed me. The first time, I used just under an ice cream scoop's worth and it did create a muffin top effect and my whoopees didn't dome the way I wanted them (this could be due to the fact that all the print for the temperature setting on my oven has rubbed off and the light in my oven has gone so I couldn't quite read the oven thermometer properly. Set your oven at 180c and bake for 12-15mins. What you are looking for is a pie that has a slight biscuit crust, sorts in between a cake and a biscuit really. Do remember that like any cakes, they do firm up and become crisper so maybe consider when you want to serve them as this should influence your baking time. Leave them to cool before sandwiching them together. As I was just experimenting, I made up a modified buttercream using equal amounts of icing sugar and butter (please people, NOT without salt. I used half unsalted, half salted. If you are using unsalted butter, salt to taste. Fleur de sel would be lovely). I sploshed a glug of milk too just to create a light and p whipped texture. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone