natural red Velvet Layer Cake.
I’ve done a lot of research into getting that bright red colour naturally. Beetroot powder instead of red food colouring and un-dutched cocoa powder instead of the usual alkalised type found more usually in the shops.
You see, this cake is all about chemistry. It’s the pH magic that’s created when the acid of the non-alkaline cocoa powder, the buttermilk and the vinegar are introduced to the bicarbonate of soda. As an aside, our local supermarket was out of buttermilk so I had to make my own. It’s really simple and a good tip to remember. Add a tablespoonful of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup (235ml/8⅓fl oz) of milk, allow to stand for 5 minutes – there’s your home-made buttermilk!
The cake wasn’t the radioactive shade of red that you get when using food colouring. I think I’d add a little bit more beetroot powder next time to get a slightly redder shade however – my Natural Red Velvet recipe is work in progress! Some people comment on an ‘earthy’ taste to their cake when using beetroot, but I can’t say I noticed any. A delicious taste was detected that’s for sure!
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- 200g/7oz unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
- 420g/15oz plain flour
- 75g/2¾oz cocoa powder
- 50g/1¾oz beetroot powder
- 375g/13oz golden caster sugar
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1½tsp vanilla extract
- 335ml/11¾ fl oz buttermilk
- 1½tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1½tsp white distilled vinegar
- 75g/2¾oz unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 450g/1lb icing sugar
- 190g/6¾oz full-fat cream cheese, chilled
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
- Grease 4 x 20cm sandwich tins and line with baking parchment
- Combine the flour, cocoa and beetroot powder in a large bowl and set aside
- In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together
- Slowly whisk in the beaten eggs, then the vanilla extract
- Start adding the flour mixture to the butter mixture in batches, whisking well but slowly after each addition
- Add the buttermilk and stir until smooth
- Working quickly, combine the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in a small bowl, then fold it into the cake mixture
- Once incorporated, divide the batter between the prepared cake tins
- Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean
- Remove and cool slightly in the tin before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely
- Trim the cakes so they're level
- Rub the butter into the icing sugar to resemble fine breadcrumbs
- Add the chilled cream cheese and beat until smooth
- Stir in the vanilla extract
- Fit a large piping bag with a plain nozzle and fill with the frosting
- Place the first cake on a cake stand or plate and pipe large pearls of frosting on the top, starting at the outside and working your way inwards
- Top with the next layer of cake and repeat until all the layers are lined up and the top is fully decorated with frosting
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