I’m generally not a fan of using food colouring. There’s something slightly off-putting about rainbow-swirled-everything, from bagels to Starbucks to cakes. It tends to feel a little overdone, in a way that has nothing to do with how pretty they look in pictures, and everything to do with the fact that I’m painfully aware it’s all colouring.
A younger me might have been less severe, but age has rendered me joyless and crotchety. #sad
Admittedly, I’ve dabbled with rainbow things in the past. Some years ago, I made a rainbow layer cake for a birthday, and then most recently maybe three years back, my housemate and I tried our hand at these for Valentine’s.
Cute as heck, but far too much work for a regular day. I will come out and say it was really fun to engineer, though! My housemate and I were absolute idiots, and after a long and bitter struggle with our heart-shaped cookie cutter, we admitted defeat and ended up with pride cookies instead.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say, very inarticulately, is this: a little bit of colouring can be lovely, and if it’s right up your alley, go for it. I myself tend to be super forgiving when it’s just one colour – green for grasshopper pies, pink for rose spritz biscuits, red for red velvet cake.
My most recent endeavour started out as a desire to bake something for a friend’s belated birthday dinner. I’m not even sure she likes red velvet, but I’m still on my Althea & Oliver high, and much to-do was made of Althea’s red velvet cupcakes – so much so I started craving one. It’s amazing when you consider the power of literature here, because I don’t even like red velvet all that much.
As far as recipes go, however, this one by Brown Eyed Baker is pretty good! I especially love that the red food colouring is used in tandem with cocoa powder, which means the cakes come out a nice, earthy red as opposed to full-on Carrie at the Prom with the Pig’s Blood. It’s not a natural red for sure, but it sure tricks the mind into believing it is, and that’s what matters.
I baked the cupcakes a night ahead of time and left them to snooze gently in a cooled-down oven. They turned out perfectly fine when it came time for me to frost them, so if you’re pressed for time, it should be fine to prep ahead in a similar fashion.
Admittedly, I’m not very good at piping, and I’d actually used about 100g less sugar, which might be why my icing is a little more liquid. I’d suggest following the original recipe, since the cupcakes themselves aren’t actually that sweet. The great thing about this is that I can actually eat the cupcakes and not get heart palpitations!
Which means I automatically like them 100% more.
Got any good cupcake recipes? Link me!