Beet powder is a natural ingredient made from ground dehydrated beetroot. It provides a mild beet flavor and bright wine-red color in many cake and cupcake recipes. This substance can be unstable in the presence of some common ingredients, however. You can use beet powder as a substitute for food coloring in your baking, as well as to deepen the taste of many desserts. Just make sure you analyze your recipe before you bake to ensure a good result.
Chocolate Beet Cupcakes
Beet powder makes chocolate cakes rich and flavorful. This ingredient's natural red color combines with dark chocolate to produce a deeper color, while its earthy flavor enhances the taste of cocoa powder or baking chocolate. Fresh beets provide increased moisture, but you can include beet powder in any chocolate cake recipe without changing its texture. Just take out an amount of flour equal to the volume of beet powder you add.
Beet Red Velvet Cake
According to the book, "All Cakes Considered," by Melissa Gray, the original red velvet cakes used beets to heighten their reddish color. You can take advantage of the same coloring action to produce red velvet cupcakes without large amounts of artificial dye. Choose a natural-style cocoa powder, rather than dark or Dutch process, to provide a slightly more acid environment. It's also a good idea to use buttermilk or yogurt in your recipe. The active coloring agent in beets turns brown in the presence of alkaline substances like baking powder or soda. You'll need several tablespoons of beet powder, which will create an earthier taste than that of conventional red velvet cupcakes.
White and Yellow Beet Cakes
Adding beet powder to white and yellow cupcakes changes their flavor and their color. It also adds antioxidants and vitamins that are normally absent. If you add beet powder directly to a conventional white or yellow cake recipe, you can expect cupcakes that are light tan or muted pink in color. To get a brighter result, use acidic ingredients like buttermilk instead of ordinary milk.
Chiffon, Angel Food and Pound Cake
These cakes are ideal for coloring with beet powder because they use little to no alkaline chemical leavening. In chiffon and angel food cakes, beaten egg whites provide the necessary lift. Pound cake cupcakes are relatively dense and moist, especially when made with sour cream. All these types of cupcakes take on a pink to red color when you add beet powder to the batter. The Great American Spice Company recommends using a half ounce of beet powder for every pound of flour (about 4 cups), but you can adjust the amount according to the color intensity you prefer.
- The Kitchn: Can I Make Red Velvet Cake with Beets Instead of Dye?
- All Cakes Considered; Melissa Gray pg 177
- The Great American Spice Company: Beet Powder
- The Essential Dehydrator; Susan Palmquist et al. pp 42 and 133-134
- The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions; Celine Steen et al pg 153
- Cakes; Jean Pare pp 46-47
- The Big Bake Theory: NATURAL Red Velvet Cake
- Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images