I am not a baker. Many baking expeditions of mine end up in a dump. Baking is scary and cumbersome and tricky for me.
But ironically I am dessert person… with a such a big sweet tooth, that I am surprised I don’t end up baking and playing with chocolates more than I do.
Cakes, cupcakes, chocolate, fruits.. make the bestest photographs. The look menacingly inviting, decadent and SINFUL! Without trying hard, they offer beautiful pictures which turns even a sour-grim-faced-hardly-surviving non human to human! I’m sorry non sweet lovers. Don’t mean to offend… just magnifying the magic of chocolates/desserts.
Red Velvet Cake. It wasn’t much around when we were growing up. We had black forest, pineapple, plum cake, Japanese cake(Ooh!), Traditional decadent moist chocolate cake and even the world famous(In Bangalore) Honey Cake. No sign of Red Velvet there.
Beaten with beets
I had my first bite when we were living in the US, some 7 years back. Blissfully pregnant with Milee, my sweet cravings took double triple leaps. I would feast on treats from Cheese Cake Factory n Haagen Daz n Ben n Jerry’s n countless more.
Red Velvet is a cake with either a dark red, bright red or red-brown color. It’s traditionally prepared as a layer cake topped with cream cheese or cooked roux icing. The reddish color is achieved by adding beetroot or red food coloring – Courtesy, Wiki.
The Goodie Box
I could not imagine plaguing my food with coloring agents. So Beetroot it was. But trust me I was very very skeptical. Although umpteen number of recipes promised me that the Beet wouldn’t taste in my cake, I had serious doubts. Still bitten by the baking bug that day, I decided to be brave.
Well, I went all out in courage.
- I went eggless.
- I made the cream cheese frosting with hung curd and cottage cheese(Yea, I know… sounds BIZARRE).
- and I put Beets in my cake.
Phew! You must be dying to hear the verdict.
Red Velvet Cake, sans the frosting
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour/maida
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp dark cocoa powder, they say not to use dutch processed.
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 cup fresh pureed beets
- 1/3 cup butter, I used salted butter.
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Wash the beets, peel and slice. Cook them till they’re well done – important, else your batter will stink of beets. Cool and purée the cooked beets along with about 3 or 4 tbsps of water, in a blender till smooth. Keep aside.
To make the cupcakes, first whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa and baking powderin a bowl till well mixed. Keep aside.
Put the puréed beets, butter, lemon juice and vanilla extract into another bowl and lightly whisk together till mixed well.
Pour this into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix just enough to combine. Pour into cupcake moulds or a cake tin and
bake them at 175C for about 20 to 25 minutes. A skewer/ toothpick inserted into the centre should come out clean once they’re done.
Cool completely and decorate with frosting of your choice. The usual choices are butter roux (boiled) frosting or cream cheese frosting.
Recipe adapted from here.
Now for the Frosting:
You could frost the cake with your usual favorites like butter cream or whipped cream.
But I was going BOLD remember. So tried the cream cheese one. But Cream cheese is difficult to lay your hands on here in India, and if you happen to get some, they are insanely expensive.. a small container costs 400 bucks(20US$).
Hence, your truly decides to whip up some of her own:
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1/2 cup hung yoghurt
- 1/2 fresh crumbled paneer
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup whipped cream
- 1 drop vanilla essence
Blend yoghurt and paneer to fine smooth paste. Fold in whipped cream, vanilla and sugar. Beat till soft peaks form. Use as required.
Now if you see the pictures here, the frosting is a bit runny. I did not have any whipping cream, so I used normal cream(Amul’s) which refused to add any body to the frosting. Hence the drooly look.
If you are lucky to get some real cream cheese itself, use 3/4 cup of it with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup whipping cream in it.
Okay. So I dolloped my little red cupcakes with this awesome frosting. And since I was being playful, I added cherries to beautify it. But I had also baked the extra batter into a small cake. So I got naughty again. Chopped up a cup full of cherries, I layered them with the mock cream cheese and some sugar-water syrup.. to make a layered Red Velvet Cake with cream cheese and cherries!
Sounds Fancy? I was just going with the flow of how things had turned out.
Life as you see it.
Well…I have many varied reviews for this one:
1. My take – a little different from our conventional cakes, there was a hint of bitterness in the cake itself. But the frosting was creamy, sweet and tangy and along with it, it tasted pretty good. The cake was yummier than the cupcakes, since it had that little extra sugar water syrup added to it, along with a bite of cherries.
2. Husband’s View – He did not like it. He likes his desserts just as they should be “SWEET”. He is not a fan of bitter and dark stuff.(I am the EVIL one here…hahaha)
3. Milee’s Take – with a slightly bizarre palette, she kinds of diggs food with different flavors. She gave me a big Thumbs Up.
4. My friends – Most did not like it much. Except for one, who said, it tastes marvelous like wine!..
5. Friend’s Husbands – Most Liked it. They enjoyed the alcohol flavor it imparted. super pleased that I had made a rum-wine cake of some sort.. no one could ever imagine I put BEETS in it.
Final Verdict: The frosting was a big hit, no matter what. But the cake itself, had slightly different opposing views.
So you’re call basically. If you are in for an alcohol like cake, sans the stuff, then this might just be the one for you.
Saying it with flowers
1. The redness of the cake is enhanced by lime juice, baking powder and chocolate mixed. It does some chemical reaction inside and produces the vibrant redness that we see.
2. If you want to try it out, bake a very small batch without the frosting. See how it tastes, then decide to invest time and effort on the icing.
Plain Red Velvet in all its glory.