Oooo red velvet! Valentine’s Day arrived, and being part of a family—and one with an infant and a child with chickenpox—Nye and I certainly weren’t going anywhere.
Instead, we bought our first ever steak and made cake. Let me repeat that for a moment: we bought our first ever steak…! I had been a vegetarian for 7 years prior to meeting Nye (he corrupted me, what can I say?), but having grown up on a farm, I have had more steak in my life than most. Yet, for the past 9 years that we’ve known each other, Nye and I have exclusively bought steak only when dining out at restaurants. It’s not really any kind of official policy, but not a bad one if we did. At any rate, we had steak, and it was mouthwatering delicious. Nye, however, was the chef of that delectable, so I’ll let you all just dream about it as I’m going to just focus on the pudding!
I made Red Velvet cake. Well, I say Red Velvet, but really this was more of an ultra-moist not-so-red velvet cake. I am a huge fan of The Hummingbird Bakery’s cakes; their Red Velvet makes me go weak at the knees, and I even super-sized their Blackbottom cupcake recipe into my hubby’s full-sized 40th birthday cake.
But, I’m not a huge fan of food dye.
So, I reviewed a number of alternate paths people had taken, and came up with a recipe that involves beetroot. I tried to stick as closely to Hummingbird’s original recipe, but this really is pretty far removed.
To make the dye, I puréed 2 large beetroots. Simples. It turned a nice bright, incredibly permanent red, and was incredibly strong to taste. But, as I added the remaining ingredients, the colour faded (I’m going to blame my beloved cocoa powder) and so, too, thankfully, did the beety taste.
What remained was a not-so-red cake that stayed moist for days — days! — whilst the traditional Hummingbird Red Velvet would dry out in a day or two. I think it may even have improved in flavour.
Now, typically when making cake the expectation is that the cake will be made and consumed all together, almost immediately. We made this just for ourselves, so unless we were going to make ourselves diabetic-in-a-day-full on cake, this cake was going to be savoured slowly over the week. It didn’t actually last beyond 3 or 4 days.
I should mention that this is probably the first time I’ve ever seen sprinkles on a Red Velvet cake. But as the cake wasn’t really red, and I’ve had Molly Yeh’s Sprinkle Cake very much in my mind, and sprinkles are the best thing in the world according to my daughter—I just went with it.
- 215g flour
- ¾ t. salt
- 1¼ t. baking soda
- 80g butter
- 200g caster sugar
- 165g pureed beetroot
- 15g cocoa powder
- 2 t. vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 100ml milk
- 3 T plain yogurt
- 2 T white wine vinegar
- HUMMINGBIRD BAKERY FROSTING
- 300g icing sugar
- 50g room-temperature butter
- 125g cold cream cheese
- Preheat oven to 170ºC/350ºF.
- Line and flour the cake tins. (Don't be lazy and do this later; this recipe is very time sensitive once!)
- Mix together flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
- Using a mixer or bowl with wooden spoon, cream butter and sugar.
- Puree beetroot.
- Mix beetroot, cocoa powder and vanilla.
- Add the beetroot mixture and the yogurt and milk to the creamed butter, alternating between a spoonful of the dry and a bit of the wet.
- Lastly, add the baking soda and vinegar.
- Pour into tins and immediately place in oven
- Bake for 30min, or until the cake springs back when gently touched.
- Cool for 5min before removing cakes from tins.
- Let cool completely before frosting.
- While it cools, cream icing sugar and butter with a stand or handheld mixer for about 30 sec. (Do so with care! The sugar will fly everywhere; I like to carefully wrap a cloth around the mixer until everything is fully incorporated.)
- Stop mixer, add cream cheese, and remix for 5min. Be sure not to overmix as it will get runny.