Magic of Color
BUT, in the Red Velvet Cake – dark chocolate diminishes the bright red color, in fact it was more maroon than red. This is a key feature and needs to be right. I switched to Hershey’s Cocoa and the red really popped.
Now we’ve got the chocolate figured out, how do we get that red? Unfortunately, no matter how much red coloring gel a baker uses, the end product still appears as a hot pink (maybe fuchsia?). Really, no matter how much I added, the color wasn’t red.
After some research on line and reaching out to other bakers, it was recommended I try using McCormick’s Red Food Color. [The image shows a bottle of red food coloring sized at .29ml. I have the 32oz bottle in my cabinet.] Some recipes will call for anywhere from 2T to 6T red food coloring per batch of Red Velvet Cake. It works. The cake bakes red. It’s beautiful.
Typically, I love using gel colors – it doesn’t distort the gentle balance of liquids to solid in the batter; however, I will use the liquid red coloring for its distinctive abilities to achieve RED.
I thought about adding the hot pink layer and decided against it. “Naahhh…, that’s not necessary.” And all of that is ok. I have to say that wasn’t really me talking…that was the 12-steps at work in my life. It’s a program of honesty and integrity. Those little things eventually add up and can make for a big pile of messes; I don’t care for cleaning up big messes so I try to take care of the little things as they come along.
Coloring buttercream was essential for the Superman Cake. The first blue I tried…turned out battleship grey. Epic fail! Too much red (why did I add red?) and then tried to bring it down with brown (whaaa?). I cried ‘Uncle’ and started over. Royal Blue is the base for the iconic blue…and things went uphill after that. Whew!
I am eager to work with an ombré style of frosting..again and again and again. I really love color and the gradiant allows me to “see color move.”
Basic Coloring Tips
- One of the primary differences between White Cake and Classic Vanilla Cake is egg yolks. My White Cake calls for 5 egg whites and a splash of almond extract to pair with the vanilla. The Vanilla Cake uses four eggs. The color of the cake will be even more intense when used with a white cake; determine what flavor you profile you prefer and go for it.
- When adding color to a cake, I used clear vanilla extract. Adding the dark brown vanilla dampens the color/intensity of the cake. Don’t splash your rainbow with a dark brown vanilla cloud.
- Add color as the last ingredient (exception: Red Velvet, it’s mixed with several ingredients in a separate bowl before adding to the batter). The color achieved when adding coloring gel to the wet ingredients of a vanilla cake will change after the dry ingredients are integrated. Wait until the end of mixing.
- When coloring buttercream….wait until all the ingredients have been well mixed as is at preferred consistency. Again, if adding liquid red – keep buttercream stiff as the coloring will thin the icing.
- “Well, Sugary Shrink…what do I do with all this red food gel?” Easy – lots of people love pink cake and icing. I add a small amount of red coloring when I want the pink to pop a little bit, e.g. strawberry cream filling, bubblegum frosting, or pink roses on the traditional Neapolitan.