Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Hidden Veggies

Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers' challenge host.  She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results!

I made red velvet cupcakes, using beets for the color instead of a bottle of red food coloring.  It took two tries to get the color right.  I started off with my basic chocolate cake recipe, removing all but one tablespoon of the cocoa powder, most recipes call for at least one tablespoon of cocoa.  It must be unprocessed cocoa, because dutch processed is too alkali and will cause the cake to turn brown.  

For my first try, I used a third of a cup of pureed roasted beets that I cooked in an foil pouch. I reduced the liquid by 1/3 cup.

I also used a teaspoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for rising agents.  The first batch didn't come out red at all so I scoured the internet to see what others had done.  Some bakers had success with baked beets and others suggested using raw beets.

For the second batch, I used a half cup of packed, raw grated beets that I pureed and mixed into a half cup of water.

I also learned that baking soda is also very alkali so I switched to baking powder and I added a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice for added acid.   

The brown cupcake below on the left is the first batch the red one on the right is the second one.  You can plainly see the difference.

The one downside to the raw beets is that you can taste them in the cupcakes.  There is a slight beet taste that wasn't there in the first batch.  If your objective is to feed veggies to kids without their knowing it, I would use roasted beets.  If  you really want to make a red velvet cake, then I would use raw beets but I would cut the amount back to a third of a cup.   

I do wonder if roasted beets would have worked if I had just changed the baking soda to powder and added the lemon juice, but I ran out of time for a third batch.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with "Cream Cheese" Frosting
Makes 12 cupcakes - Use organic ingredients whenever possible

1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or sub ww pastry flour)
1 cup unbleached sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup grated raw beets
2/3 cups water, divided
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350˚
Line a cupcake tin with papers.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
Put the grated beets in a food processor with half the water.
Process until the beets are smooth.
Add the remaining water, lemon juice, oil and vanilla and pulse a few times.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and gently stir until combined.
Divide the batter equally into the twelve papers.
Bake for 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out cleanly.
Cool before frosting

For the non dairy "Cream Cheese" frosting:

2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter substitute, softened
2 tablespoons Spectrum buttery palm shortening
1/4 cup Tofutti non dairy cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar

Beat the butter substitute, palm shortening and non dairy cream cheese together until smooth.
Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating with a hand mixer until smooth.
Pipe or spread on the top of the cupcakes.


  1. Lovely cupcakes and interesting research too :)

  2. Wow, what a difference in color! Great job on the challenge!

  3. No sugar or other sweetener?

  4. Thanks for catching that error Anonymous! Yes, there is a cup of sugar in the recipe.. I've made the correction.