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!

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