Inspired by my new baby girl, I'm starting a monthly series in my journal exploring new recipes and natural ingredients outside the wedding wheelhouse, beginning with this classic pink birthday cake.
Not that my baby is eating cake anytime soon, but she will, and in the meantime, her parents will have to be the guinea pigs for new ingredients like this all natural food coloring I’m using for a classic pink birthday cake.
If you're familiar with my baking, you already know that I regularly use fruit purees and beet juice to add color, but it can be a little labor intensive to reduce fruits and veggies enough to concentrate colors as brightly as I'd like. Also, I don't always want flavors impacted by fruit and veggie reductions; sometimes I just want the color. Also, as lovely a pink as cochineal can make, I'm not interested in adding dried bugs to my baked goods thank you very much.
Here are the recipes and steps to recreate this all natural, classic pink birthday cake:
BASIC VANILLA CAKE
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons
3 large egg whites
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prep three 4” round cake pans with butter and flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In a small bowl, combine milk and vanilla.
In an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and pour into a separate bowl.
Using cleaned whisk and electric mixer bowl, beat softened butter until pale and fluffy, then add sugar. Next add flour and milk mixture just until combined.
Finally fold in egg whites gently to lighten batter, and then divide mixture equally into three pans.
Bake ~20 minutes until tester comes out clean and cakes are lightly golden on top. Allow cakes to cool completely before removing from pans and frosting.
VANILLA SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
5 large organic egg whites
1 pound organic, unsalted butter, softened
1 cups organic white sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
In a medium, heat-safe metal bowl, combine egg whites and sugar over a pot of simmering water.
Heat sugar and egg white mixture until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture reaches 160 degrees farenheit on a candy thermometer, and then remove bowl from heat.
To remove any bits of cooked egg white, pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl of an electric mixer and let cool ~5 minutes.
Once cooled, using the whisk attachment of your electric mixer or electric beaters, beat the meringue mixture until you have stiff, shiny peaks.
Next, add butter, a few tablespoons at a time until completely incorporated and smooth. (FYI - the mixture might resemble runny cottage cheese at first, but keep mixing and the buttercream will come together.)
Add vanilla extract and continue whisking until combined.
Finally, switch to a paddle attachment and beat buttercream for a minute on medium speed to work out air bubbles for the smoothest consistency.
TO COLOR YOUR FROSTING NATURALLY
Empty contents of pigment into a small bowl. (I used "Pomegranate" from Go Supernatural, but I've still got some other brilliant shades to play with like orange, yellow and magic blackberry)
Add 1 tablespoon water and stir to dissolve (or as they say, "bloom" the color)
Once fully dissolved, I added 1/2 teaspoon to the buttercream to the vivid, rosey pink I was after.
Lastly, frost, add sprinkles (I used white soy-free, gluten-free sequin sprinkles also from Supernatural kitchen), a beeswax candle, and voila!
Too easy, huh?
I found the pomegranate to be super concentrated and had several teaspoons of color leftover, which was also probably due to me going for more of a pink than a red. Next time, I may try to save a bit of the color powder for another day or better yet, prep extra batter, so I can color the actual cake, too!
If you look at the cake slices closely, you'll see faint specks of yellow and orange. I actually added some Starfetti sprinkles to the batter to attempt a more natural funfetti cake, but discovered that these sprinkles are better suited for cake toppings in case anyone else has the same idea;)
Have you used Natural food colors or sprinkles before?
Please comment below and share your favorites for me to try!