Natural Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against food colouring per se, but the thought of adding a bottle or two of bright red to my kids’ food? Forget it. So, after HUNDREDS of test cakes, this is part science experiment, part baking.
They aren’t bright red (but then again, I didn’t really want them to be!) but they are yummy!
As usual this makes 12 cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
200g butter
1/2 cup Beepple Juice (Or apple juice or water)
1/2 cup pureed beetroot (please don’t use pickled beetroot – I think you know why!)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbs natural cocoa powder (this is part of the science bit – see below!)
2 eggs
2 cups self raising flour

1. Put the butter, juice, beetroot, sugar and bicarb in a saucepan, and stir over a medium heat until all is melted and the science of the bicarb starts to do it’s fizzy thing. Turn off heat and leave to cool until lukewarm.
2. When it’s lukewarm, stir in the eggs. (If it’s too warm you’ll cook the eggs, which would just be wrong! So leave it outside (with a lid on) or put in the sink with some cold water (watch out for the tap!) until cool!)
3. Mix in the flour and beat well until there are no lumps left. (My grandmother would have sifted it, I can’t be bothered, frankly.)
4. Distribute into 12 cupcake cases and bake for 20 minutes at 190°C (or 12 minutes for mini cupcakes).
This also makes two 7″ round tins baked for 30-35 minutes, or one 9″ round tin in 50-55 minutes.
5. Cool on a rack until ready to decorate.

Cream Cheese Frosting
100g butter
150g cream cheese
250g icing sugar

1. Beat the butter until pale and fluffy.
2. Briefly beat the cream cheese in until combined. (Too much beating makes it runny.)
3. Add the icing sugar and mix until combined, but don’t overbeat.
4. Pipe, spoon or spread onto cakes and decorate how you like.
If you double the quantity, you can fill and cover the top of the two 7″ cakes.

Science Bit
Well, colour is all about science and pH levels, don’t you know. Remember setting all those batik tie-dyed t-shirts in vinegar. Yup. That science.
Some time back, at the beginning of my quest, I stumbled across BitterSweetBlog‘s page on getting the colour right.
And then got me thinking about the cocoa I was using.
And, to cut things short, keep it acidic and use raw or natural cocoa powder.

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