Sunday, March 27, 2011
Beet Velvet Cake
On Friday, I harvested the remaining beets and carrots from last year's crop, which we ended up leaving in the ground after it froze. For the most part, there was little loss, though I don't plan to do it that way next year. This variety of carrots, with red skin, is called "Dragon".
We ended up with a number of very small beets that were really too little to do much with, and I decided to try something I had seen on Working Class Foodies: making dye for red velvet cake from beets.
I thought that their cake didn't really look red enough to me, and I figured that was because they couldn't use much of the dye, so I decided to use the beets to dye the milk instead. I simmered my beets in milk, peeled the beets, chopped them up and let them sit overnight to continue to allow the color to soak into the milk. I then used my typical method of substitution for buttermilk -- adding a cup of milk to a tablespoon of white vinegar. In this case, the milk was beet-colored. I didn't use as many beets as they did, but I got the milk to be fairly dark, and the batter was dark pink like cherry pie filling. Not as dark as I would have liked, but dark enough that I was ok settling for it.
The baked layers had only a hint of pink color, but I thought that might be just be the outside, and the inner cake might be different.
When I trimmed the dome of to make the layer flat, I found that the cake was a slightly different color inside -- it was the color of brown sugar, without a hint of pink, let alone red.
I have never made a decent looking cake before, so I used this opportunity to try making my cake look professional. I used this tutorial on how to assemble a layer cake and this tutorial on how to frost a cake. She says to save the trimmings because you'll figure out something to do with them. I think I'll try something like this.
With the crumb coat, my cake looked like a stack of pancakes, didn't it? I don't have a turntable, so I improvised one using an overturned bowl as a pivot point.
Here's my final result. I didn't worry about getting it perfect, but it is still the best looking cake I have ever made. I think I did well, especially considering the fact that I don't have a bench scraper -- which seems to be the key to this tutorial -- and I only have a 4" offset spatula. I probably shouldn't have made a cream cheese frosting for my first attempt at this, and I should have at least used the maximum amount of sugar to make it stiffer, but I didn't think about it until already frosting the cake.
I think I would have liked the frosting to be a bit thicker, and the cake was not red at all, but it was tasty, and you couldn't taste the beets -- but we probably got the nutrients that simmered out of them. Tasty, tasty nutrients.
In retrospect, I should not have been terribly surprised that the cake wasn't red, given what happened with my beet green quiche that started out pink. Beet color from the juice just must not stand up to baking.