Monday, July 27, 2015

Red Food Coloring

A few weeks ago I posted about making red velvet cupcakes for the 4th July! The cupcakes were delicious and I was very happy with them but it was pointed out to me, quite correctly, that they weren't that red.

Sure they are a bit red, just not bright red. So as a tribute to the great american dream, it doesn't quite look like the classic red velvet. Therefore I decided to do something different and just research an ingredient for a change, namely red food colouring.

I should start by stating my bias - as a rule I am not a big fan of food colouring. Why? I can taste them, and they taste me. The first time I ever tasted red velvet was at a party where I had been asked to bring some red velvet cupcakes, so having never had them before I made a batch and brought them along. My first taste was at the party and I had a panic attack because I found them absolutely disgusting!! I could not eat my cupcake and I lost my mind thinking that I had done something wrong and everyone at the party would hate me.
Then to my shock people started coming up to me and complimenting the red velvet. They said it was "delicious" and "the best they had tasted." ..........Erm, what????? This made no sense to me, so I pulled my boyfriend (who is brutally honest with me about these things) and asked him for his honest opinion. He too said that they were delicious and then I knew it had to be me and my hatred of food colourings.

After that I left it a little while before revisiting the red velvet, then decided to switch to natural food colours and never looked back. Natural food colours taste miles better, in my humble opinion. They are much healthier for you, with less dangerous E numbers. However they do come with the down-side of a more subtle colour in baked goods.

So today I am doing a direct comparison between natural food colouring and the americolors gel color.
I started out with the same red velvet recipe I used in this post and here it is sans colouring.

I divided it into two batches

Then added the Americolor to one batch

Then the natural food colouring to the second batch

Then baked them into cupcakes, right beside each other. I should also note that it took 3/4 of a bottle of natural food colour to achieve this batter, but just a teaspoon of the americolor gel.

So how did they turn out

Let's check the inside

You can see that there is a noticeable difference in the colour, with the americolor coming out much more distinctively red. You can also see the effects of the increased liquid in the natural food colouring as the inside took longer to cook. For the sake of equality I baked them for identical times, at 150'c in the center of the oven for 18 minutes.

With milk to cleanse the palate
Finally the taste test - to keep things equal I asked my partner to conduct the taste test, his only horse in this race is deliciousness. And the result - He said that each of the cupcakes were very delicious but that the natural food coloring just tasted better!!

The difference is clear and the choice is up to you, color or taste? I know what I choose, but you'll have to make your own decision!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Trying to fondant a carrot cake

Recently I have been given the challenge of putting fondant on a carrot cake. I thought; easy, right?! So I went to an expert and asked about it. The answer I got surprised me; no, no, absolutely not, you don't put fondant on a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, it's too soft, it will break under the pressure, you need a denser cake and a stable frosting, cream cheese will destroy the fondant and go off before anyone can eat it and it will be awful ......................oh!

But.....but....I love carrot cake
But I was determined, I would make this carrot cake, and cover it in fondant, and it would be delicious. So like any good food blogger, I turned to the internet. There I saw watched beautiful videos by Cake-style about filling and ganaching cakes. They fill the center with buttercream and then seal with ganache, then ganache the whole cake. It occurred to me that this could work with carrot cake. The white chocolate would provide structure and an airtight seal that would keep the cream cheese from going off too quickly, while the cream cheese filling provides that classic taste.

So here's my cake -

And the inside

And a close up -

Delicious carrot cake filled with oodles of cream cheese and a thick layer of white chocolate to make it air-tight, sturdy, fill in the gaps (that can't be carved away) and protect all the delicious moist cake and filling. Obviously there is no fondant on this one, yet!

So then you cover in fondant, let dry and then cover in cling-film to return to the fridge

Take out on the day of the event and add decorations. Et voila!

And the finished product, let me know what you think?

Image of baby = public domain image

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Celebrating this fourth of July with a lot of red, some white and a touch of blue

Here in the UK there were very few celebrations for the fourth of July, understandably. There were a handful of American bars full of people, visible displays of American pride flying from a few apartment windows and funnily enough there was a fireworks display, which it kind of hilarious considering that Independence day originated as freedom from the British. Either way, the whole thing made me wish I was in the states. I never had the whole Independence day experience as I didn't have much family over there to celebrate with but the friends and BBQs, the sun and the over-powering aromas emanating from other people's BBQs mixed with smoke from fireworks. It's a lovely time over there.

To celebrate this year I prepared the most American of sweet treats; the red velvet cupcake! Topped, as it should be, with oodles of delicious cream cheese frosting

The roses you see here are piped a little differently to the usual ones I like, each petal is piped individually, which gives you a) a more realistic flower and b) more frosting ;) These are not as crisp and clean as they have been before but they were piped with cream cheese frosting in 30'C/86'F weather so considering the conditions I think they came out nicely. I have been watching a lot of cakestyle videos lately and have been inspired to up my piping game, and then share it with you =)

So as you can see there is red and white in the icing, red in the cake but very little blue. I chose to put them in royal blue cupcake cases, but you could easily choose to put blue into the frosting, I just wanted the roses to look as natural as possible, which doesn't include blue.

Red Velvet Cupcakes (makes 12-15)   (recipe adapted from Alton Brown) 

205g    Plain flour
1 tbsp  cornflour
10g      good cocao
1 tsp    baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
240ml milk
1 tsp    lemon juice
1 tbsp  white vinegar
1 tsp    vanilla
28 ml  natural red food colouring
298g   dark brown sugar
56g     butter 
2         eggs

1 -  Preheat oven to 150'C/300'F. Add the lemon juice to the milk and let sit for 2-3mins
2 - Whisk together the flour and corn flour, then add the cocao, baking powder and salt and whisk together well
3 - Heat the milk for 30 seconds in the microwave, or allow to sit until room temperature, 
4 - Add the vinegar, vanilla and red food colouring to the milk and stir well. 
5 - In a cake mixer, or with an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until it lightens in colour.
6 - Add the eggs one at a time with one tablespoon of the flour mixture with each, beat through well.
7 - Alternate additions of the milk mixture and flour mixture until fully incorporated.
8 - Put cupcake cases in your muffin tin and then fill them half way up with mixture
9 - Bake for 15-20 minutes and then let cool with a clean tea towel sitting on top.

Cream Cheese Frosting    
This cream cheese was adapted for the heat

120g Butter
190g Cream cheese
400g Icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract.

1 - Beat together the butter and sieved icing sugar
2 - Add the vanilla extract and beat well
3 - Add the cream cheese slowly and beat well to combine.
4 - Chill in the fridge to firm.
5 - Pipe

To get the multiple colours that you see here I added 3 things to my icing bag, a strip of food colouring along one side, followed by a mix of the cream cheese with extra icing sugar and food colouring along that side, followed by filling the rest with white cream cheese. I piped onto a plate until i had the desired colour stripping and then piped my roses.

So try these out for yourself and enjoy =)

So.........that went well......but I'm back with a bang!

At the start of the year I said that I would try to post more regularly and......yeah....that didn't happen =/ Finishing this doctorat...