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Topic: Red Velvet Cupcakes end up as liquid pink evil  (Read 3143 times)
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teraspawn
« on: September 06, 2007 12:31:50 AM »

Okay, Wikipedia says that to replace buttermilk in a recipe you can put a tablespoon of vineager in a cup of milk and leave it to stand for ten minutes. Is this a horrible, horrible lie? I tried to make this recipe for red velvet cake and the batter ended up tasting like liquid evil (I mean sour). What went wrong?

And I used self-raising flour instead of cake flour - what difference does that make?

Also, the only red food colouring I could find was pink. I don't mean too-dilute-doesn't-look-like-true-red pink, I mean fuchsia. That's mental.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2007 12:32:28 AM by teraspawn » THIS ROCKS   Logged

Gwydion
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2007 11:06:19 AM »

Oh dear! You're in England, aren't you? 

OK, in the recipe you're looking at, the buttermilk, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and vinegar all work together to raise the cake. 

You used self-raising flour, which already has a leavening agent (baking powder)-- so your batter probably ended up very, very bitter, especially after you added the milk-and-vinegar, the baking soda, and c. of tartar.

"Cake flour" is just a particularly light and fluffy plain, NON-self-raising white flour.  You should be able to use ordinary flour instead (you might want to use about 1 tbsp less than is called for, but I wouldn't worry too much about it)

Buttermilk is iffy.  Sainsbury's USED to have it, sometimes, but it wasn't at all like American buttermilk (it was more like American yoghurt).  And, to be honest, since it's part of the leavening in this recipe, I'm not sure how the milk-and-vinegar substitution will affect things.

I've got a couple of recipes for red velvet cake.  I'll check when I get home tonight and see if I have one that will be easier to find ingredients for in the UK.

As for the food coloring, it will look a bit darker after cooking.  If it's still fuschia, call it Pink Velvet cake.  Cheesy

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Parilla
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2007 09:18:28 AM »

While I can't comment on this, I can tell you one thing...

...if you should have the premade cake-powder-in-boxes in England as we do in America, don't even bother with the Red Velvet cake ones.  They look beautiful, but always have this really funky, nasty aftertaste.  Something about Red Velvet doesn't translate into powder.  At all.  No matter the brand.

As for the color...you could always add more cocoa.
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sleepybunny
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2007 11:05:46 AM »

I sometimes use a soda bread recipe that lists buttermilk amongst the ingredients: never having come across it in the supermarket I substituted half and half natural yogurt and milk, and it seems to work out fine.  Not sure if it will work for your cake recipe though...
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McJulie-O
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2007 01:52:28 PM »

Okay, Wikipedia says that to replace buttermilk in a recipe you can put a tablespoon of vineager in a cup of milk and leave it to stand for ten minutes. Is this a horrible, horrible lie?

I tried to make this recipe for red velvet cake and the batter ended up tasting like liquid evil (I mean sour). What went wrong?

And I used self-raising flour instead of cake flour - what difference does that make?


Yes, indeed, that combination of vinegar and regular milk makes a passable substitute for buttermilk, especially for baked goods such as red velvet cake and quick breads..... the acid in the buttermilk is what activates the baking SODA to make the tiny bubbles which makes your cake rise.

Your substitution of self rising flour for cake flour is what got you into trouble....self rising has baking POWDER AND salt added to it already so using it in your mix and then adding soda really compounded the leavening (Baking soda + baking powder), No wonder it was yucky!

Here's a tip if you NEED self rising flour and want to make it yourself:
   1. Using a dry measure, measure the desired amount of flour into a separate container.
   2. For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
   3. Mix to combine.

If you HAVE self rising flour, but not all purpose flour:
   1. You can use self-rising flour in yeast bread recipes, but you'll need to omit the salt.
   2. If you use self-rising flour as a substitute for all-purpose flour in a quick bread, omit salt and baking powder (and I guess, baking soda, too, as you discovered).
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teraspawn
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2007 12:51:58 AM »

Thank you for your help everybody! If I ever come across cake flour in a recipe again, I'll know what to do!
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Gwydion
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2007 08:05:08 AM »

Well, I looked through every cookbook and index card in the kitchen and couldn't find a recipe that didn't call for buttermilk, so I'd just go with with the milk-and-vinegar substitution. 

As to the other vinegar called for in the recipe, my grandmother's recipe note tells me to "Reserve baking soda and vinegar until all other ingredients have been mixed.  Make a small hole in the batter on one side of the bowl, add baking soda, make a small hole on the other side, add vinegar, mix well." (I honestly don't know WHY you're supposed to do this)

Interestingly, my grandmother's recipe does not use any food coloring at all.  Just 1/4 cup of cocoa.  I understand the vinegar and the cocoa is supposed to react to produce a red color, but I remember her red velvet cake as being more of a rusty brown.  My mother's recipe calls for only 2 tbsp of cocoa and an entire bottle (!) of food coloring.  The last time I made it, I used 1/3 cup cocoa and only as much food coloring as was absolutely necessary to get a sort-of red color, because I really do think food coloring gives it a weird aftertaste. 
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McJulie-O
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2007 07:11:57 PM »

I remember the first time I ever heard of a red velvet cake....and the person who baked it said it called for a WHOLE BOTTLE of red food coloring!  Shocked

Mostly I just liked the cream cheese icing. Yum!
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« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2007 06:46:41 AM »

Sorry your attempt didn't go well.  Whenever I have red velvet cake, I just buy the Betty Crocker box mix.  It tastes fine to me!

It would be interesting to make one from scratch, though...
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« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2007 04:37:48 PM »

I have a couple of frequently used recipes that call for buttermilk, but instead of vinegar I've always used lemon juice.  This has worked for me every time.  As for cake flour, I'm sure I read that you can make a substitute by using plain flour, minus a couple of table spoons per cup, replaced with a couple tablespoons of corn flour (corn starch).  You may want to give that a try.
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BeccaJaneStClair
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« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2007 01:50:27 PM »

I remember the first time I ever heard of a red velvet cake....and the person who baked it said it called for a WHOLE BOTTLE of red food coloring!  Shocked

Mostly I just liked the cream cheese icing. Yum!

Yep. Our recipe calls for a whole bottle, too.  THEN, we usually dye the icing - At christmas, it's green, and at valentine's day, pink. 

IF anyone's interested, here's the "family recipe" we use:

Red Velvet Cake
From the Kitchen of: Jane Sweitzer
Ingredients
 
1 1/2 Cup Sugar    2 Eggs    1 Tsp. Salt    1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Shortening    1 Tsp. Vanilla    1-2 Tbs. Cocoa    1 Tbs. Vinegar
2 oz. Red Food Colouring    2 Cups Flour    1 Cup Buttermilk    
Instructions
Cream sugar and shortening until fluffy. Add colouring, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until snooth. Sift flour, salt, and cocoa - 2 times. Add alternately with buttermilk. beat until smooth, combine soda and vinegar, blend gently into batter. Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes.

Frosting For Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients
1/4 Cup Flour
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup Shortening
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1-2 Drops Almond Flavouring
Instructions
Combine flour and milk. Cook until thick. Cool. Cream sugar and shortening. Add Flavouring. Add Sugar to cooled mixture. Beat until fluffy enough to spread.
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MirthFairy
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2007 11:22:44 AM »


As to the other vinegar called for in the recipe, my grandmother's recipe note tells me to "Reserve baking soda and vinegar until all other ingredients have been mixed.  Make a small hole in the batter on one side of the bowl, add baking soda, make a small hole on the other side, add vinegar, mix well." (I honestly don't know WHY you're supposed to do this)


I'm not certain why you would want to reserve the baking soda, but the reason why you would reserve the vinegar is so I won't prematurely react with the baking soda. If you put it in to early and stir the batter, the delicate bubbles caused by the soda-vinegar reaction will pop and your cake won't be as fluffy. You also won't want to mix this sort of cake in a metal bowl. The acid in the vinegar will react with the metal causing a nasty metallic taste.

For fun, just pour some baking soda into a bowl with some vinegar and watch it foam. I sometimes use this reaction to clean my drains (1/2 c baking soda down the drain, add 1 c of vinegar, plug drain and leave for 10 minutes. Chase with 5 cups hot water.)

FYI - Baking soda requires an acid to react, baking powder is soda with an acid already added, so all you need is a liquid. Cream of tartar is an acid, so sometimes it'll be added to baking soda only recipe that has no other added acid.

See also Wikipedia:
Cream of Tartar
Baking Soda
Baking Powder
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Muria
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2007 08:18:17 PM »

Chemically, milk plus vinegar is a decent substitute for buttermilk, but the real thing almost always produces superior results for me.  I've used half  plain yogurt/half milk a few times when I've been out of buttermilk, but it still doesn't come out quite the same (though better than my experiences with the milk/vinegar combination, as it doesn't thicken enough). 

Another good substitute for cake flour (if it's carried locally) is White Lily all purpose flour.  They use exclusively soft wheat in the flour, which produces a much lighter product (soft wheat has less gluten, which is good for yeast bread, but weighs down quick breads, cakes, and biscuits). 

I have a great book called "This for That: a Treasury of Savvy Substitutions" that tells you good substitutes when you don't have the required recipe item (including the milk/vinegar substitute, and the self-rising flour information).  The best way to fix what you had would have been to taste the batter, realize the problem, and add in extra ingredients to account for the extra leavening.  Once it's baked, I'm not sure there's anything you can do about it.  Undecided
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