Cakes have been a part of our every celebration for centuries now. But they didn’t always look like the cakes we are used to today. Cakes only started getting fancier in the Victorian era, which dates to the 1800s. History suggests velvet cakes first appeared during this era when chefs and bakers began incorporating cocoa powder for a rich and sweet flavour. But cocoa was an expensive ingredient accessible only to the creme de la cremes of society.
Did you know that red velvet cakes weren’t always bright red? It was due to an interesting experiment that these cakes got their popular red hue. When the recipe found its way to southern America, buttermilk was added to its recipe. The acidic buttermilk and raw cocoa powder fused with the neutralising baking soda, triggering a chemical reaction that released the cocoa’s natural reddish colour. Even then, the colours were more on the red-brownish side.
Later, Adams Extract, a Texas-based company, popularised red velvet cake in the colour we know today. The company sold food colouring and flavour extracts and was one of the first to use tear-off recipe cards to promote its products.
Allura Red or Red no. 40 are the go-to artificial red food colours to create the mesmerising red in Red Velvet Cakes. But with the market transition from artificial to natural food colours, carmine, paprika, and many more such pigments have emerged as acceptable natural solutions for red baked goods. So let’s dive deep into the options available in the market today.
Beetroot – Anyone would assume beetroot to be the sensible natural choice to replace Red 40. However, the low heat stability of the betanin molecule that gives the substance its red colour restricts its application. This means it may not give out the red shade we are familiar with when it comes to the typical red velvet cake.
Anthocyanins – Anthocyanins can be reddish or purplish, depending on the pH. Given the pH, it is difficult to achieve a vibrant shade of red when using anthocyanins in red velvet cakes. It usually produces a purplish hue.
Carmine – Carmine, the go-to solution for red velvet cakes, is heat stable and imparts a bright red colour. But it is not kosher-friendly due to its animal origin, making it unattractive for most bakers. Additionally, some countries in the Middle East allow the usage of carmine in only a few applications.
Paprika –Though paprika is known to be heat, light and pH stable, it alone cannot impart a bright red hue. When mixed with beetroot, it can give out a pleasant red shade unique to red velvets.
Using a single pigment for red velvet cake is not always the best option for its rich red colour. We at Symega offer pigment combinations for the best performance, thanks to our advanced blending capabilities and stabilisation technology.
Here’s how we make a difference:
- We offer a combination of beetroot and curcumin, which offers good shade and is cost-effective. In addition, it comes in powder form, which is ideal for use in baking premixes.
- We also have a liquid form which is a blend of beetroot and paprika. The liquid form easily mixes with flour and other ingredients, making it convenient for bakers.
It is important to note that we formulate the colour with unflavored ingredients. As a result, there is no impact on taste or flavour, and it is stable at high temperatures such as 180-200 °C. The result is a beautiful red velvet cake that’s delicious, natural and in sync with the modern consumer’s demands.
It has been discovered that blends like these are unquestionably the best option. This allows for more stable colours which are effective and budget friendly. For example, while beet red may fade slightly during baking, when combined with heat-stable paprika, which is more heat stable, the colour loss is less noticeable than when using beet red alone.
Looking for something similar to get your baked goods looking good? Get in touch here to know more about natural food colours and our solutions.