Finding a natural solution
Cake decorating has always been a part of my life. For birthdays and holidays my family and I always make creative cakes. From a butterfly to an island to a funky geometric design, we always have a theme for our cakes.
I won’t lie — baking the actual cake is always the boring part for us. But desserts are meant for eating, not just viewing. Last year, we used fondant on my sister’s polka dot birthday cake. It was adorable, but her friends were actually picking the fondant off the cake in order to eat it!
For Fourth of July we’re making themed cupcakes, and we want them to taste as good as they look.
Confession: I’ve never made cupcakes from scratch before. This recipe may look a little daunting, but if I can do it, you can do it!
We did a test run Wednesday night, and they turned out great. The combination of sweet and tangy makes these cupcakes unique. The proof? We gave my dad just a piece of one to try because he’s usually not a fan of cupcakes, and he immediately requested a whole cupcake instead!
Red Velvet, White and Blue Cupcakes
If time is short, you may need to buy an organic cupcake mix. We made these red velvet cupcakes from scratch. I modified the ingredients in this popular red velvet cupcake recipe to make them more organic. Often, organic foodies stay away from red velvet because of the excessive amount of dye.
Historically, red velvet originated in the South, and before the 20th century, it got its reddish hue from the chemical reaction between the cocoa powder and the acidic buttermilk. This is how we achieved our red velvet.
If you are looking for a natural way to get a redder hue, try organic beet powder. Most stores will not carry this item, so plan ahead and order it online.
1/2 cup organic butter
1 1/2 cups organic raw cane sugar
2 organic, cage-free eggs
1 cup organic buttermilk
1/3 cup beet powder (in the spice section of most grocery stores)
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon organic distilled white vinegar
2 cups whole wheat or organic flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 24 unbleached baking cups in muffin tins or grease the pan. (Do it over the sink so you don’t accidentally dump an entire bottle of vegetable oil in your muffin cups like I did!)
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in the baking soda and vinegar. Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt; stir into the batter just until blended.
The batter looks a bit funky, but it tastes really good. As a recent organic convert and picky eater, I’ll admit it seemed a bit grainy to me at first, but after a few “taste tests” I was on the bandwagon! Photos By Samantha Schwartz
Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly. You will only need to fill the cups halfway. They rise beautifully.
Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 18-22 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack.
Cream cheese frosting is an old favorite with red velvet cupcakes. This recipe is adapted from a popular recipe to be made with organic ingredients.
2 (8-ounce) packages organic cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup organic butter, softened
2 cups organic powdered sugar
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
Mix butter and cream cheese until creamy. Stir in vanilla. Add sugar gradually.
Decorate your cupcakes as cute, mini American flags.
3 small packages organic blueberries
2 packages organic strawberries
Wash the blueberries and drain them in a colander. Dry with a cloth. Runny blueberries will ruin the white frosted background! Set aside.
Hull (remove the tip and white inside from) the strawberries. Put the strawberries in a food processor and pulse until strawberries form a liquid mixture. Make sure there are no huge strawberry chunks that will mess up your stripes. Pour the mixture into a pastry bag. Set aside.
Frost the cupcakes in white.
Take a huge dollop of frosting so that when you spread it, you are only touching frosting, not cake. This way, you’ll avoid getting cake crumbs in your frosting.
Line up blueberries in a grid in one “corner” of the cupcake. Try to make the sides that face the inside of the cupcake straight.
The smaller your blueberries, the easier this will be. You may find that turning the blueberries on their sides helps them fit.
Draw horizontal stripes using a small tip on your pastry bag. While an authentic flag has 13 stripes, that many lines could overwhelm the cupcake. Four or five stripes can give the desired effect.
And we’re done!!
Fun and festive, these red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and fruit are made with all organic ingredients.
Let me know if you give this a try. Also, if you have an organic Fourth of July recipe or delicious organic dessert recipe you’d like to share, please leave a comment!
For more recipe ideas, try one of Natural Home’s favorite cookbooks.