This has been a crazy week. Thursday was my son’s birthday and today was his party. Since his second birthday I have been making him cupcakes or a cake for his birthday. His favorite color is red and he usually requests something with red for his birthday treat. Last year I attempted to make red icing…. you wouldn’t believe how much red food gel I used and it still only came out a magenta like color. It made him happy, but made me worried… it was too much food gel, it couldn’t be healthy. Since then, I have come to learn that I was right. This article and this article discuss briefly the link between food dyes and ADHD. We made a lot of changes since then and searching for right cake was even more important to me this year.
I knew my kiddo was going to want something red again, so I started my research early. Last year I tried an awesome vegan beet red velvet cupcake some friends got from a bakery, and I thought maybe I could find a recipe close enough to make myself. The first recipe I tried did not come out very “red” and tasted too much like beets to me. I called it a fail, even though my husband liked it. So I did more research, and discovered a few things. In order to bake a nice red cupcake or cake with beets, the beets need to maintain an acidic pH. Otherwise this will lead to a brownish color. So baking soda should be avoided. (The first cake fail recipe called for baking soda… makes sense now!) You also want to avoid the Dutch Process cocoa witch is processed with alkali. Natural or raw cocoa powder is best.
With all of the knowledge I needed, I found another recipe and it was so yummy! But since I used gluten free flour at first, they seemed to sink just a bit, so I had to add a couple things to help with the rise a little. (I prefer not to use xanthan gum) Here’s what I came up with…
- 3/4 cup freshly puréed organic beets, about 3 medium beets (see directions below)
- 1/3 cup organic coconut oil
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp organic vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp organic Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
- 1 tbsp organic ground flaxseed
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp organic cocoa powder (NOT Dutch Processed)
- 1 1/2 tsp aluminum free, gluten free baking powder
- 1 cup original unsweetened Almond milk
Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:
- 1/2 cup organic coconut oil
- 1/2 cup soy free earth balance, soft
- 1/4 cup from refrigerated can of organic unsweetened coconut milk (we want the cream to settle to the top and thicken)
- 1 tbsp organic vanilla extract
- 3 cups organic powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash beets, and cut off any attached leaves at the base. Place in a roasting dish with an inch of filtered water. Place a piece of parchment paper on top, then cover with aluminum foil and seal tight.
2. Roast beets at for 90 minutes or until they are very tender. If they need more time, go for it.
Cupcake/ Cake Recipe:
4. When baking cakes, I use Wilton’s Bake Even Cake Strips. You can get them at any craft store that sells Wilton’s supplies. They help the cake bake with a nice even rise. Follow the directions for soaking and placing them on the outside of your pans. (If you are making cupcakes, disregard this step)
6. Divide among cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. If making a cake, pour all of the batter into one greased pan.
One batch made about 17 cupcakes or about a 1″ thick 9″ round cake.
These cupcakes were so good, I’m telling you that you won’t be able to taste the beets! I made these for my son’s class and got many compliments the next day from the teachers who had the extras. They all asked for the recipe! The best part…. not only is the beet a better alternative to food dyes, but you are also giving your kiddos some healthy vitamins and minerals in their treats! That’s a win win in my book 🙂