All the Colours and no Additives

Sep 3, 2012 by

I have been watching the Great British Bake Off avidly for the last couple of years.  I just settle down and for an hour – I am in heaven!  Last year I jumped up a couple of times when it was over and started baking at 9pm.  It has probably inspired a huge number of people to take up baking.

This season they made a colour-themed showstopper as they called it.  Some of the attempts were really spectacular.  However, they mostly seemed to involve artificial food colouring.  Now I no longer have small children but a substantial number of the ingredients in food colouring have been implicated in adverse reactions in children including hyper-activity.  Tartrazine thankfully has now been banned but there are other nasties used in it’s place.

I decided to have a go at making a cake using all natural colourings.  I chose chocolate (cocoa powder), coffee (coffee extract), purple (blackcurrant purée) and vanilla.  I sandwiched the chocolate and coffee layers with a chocolate and coffee buttercream.  I used a vanilla buttercream between the coffee and blackcurrant and a blackcurrant buttercream between the blackcurrant and vanilla layers.

For the blackcurrant purée I picked 150g of very ripe and juicy blackcurrants (the last of this years crop) and added 50g sugar.  I simmered it until it was syrupy and then pushed through a sieve.  Discard what will not push through a sieve and retain the rest in an airtight container in the fridge.  This method could be used for any strong-coloured fruit including beetroot but you need to add sugar to taste. 

Cake Recipe (Natural Rainbow Cake)

450g butter
450g sugar
6 eggs
350g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, add in one egg at a time and beat well into mix.  Fold in sieved flour and baking powder. This mix yields just over 1.6kg or 1600g so divide into 400g portions.

I only have two sandwich tins so I had to bake in two batches.  To the first I added a tablespoon of blackcurrant purée (30g).  To the next I added just a teaspoon of vanilla extract. I baked both at gas mark 4/176 deg C for about 30 minutes until the sponge sprang back to a gentle touch.

Blackcurrant and vanilla

 For the next two layers I added 30g of dark cocoa powder to make the chocolate layer and a tablespoon of coffee extract for the coffee layer. Both were baked after the first two layers were removed from the tins.

For the pink icing (1 layer and topping)
150g icing sugar and 50g soft butter
I added three teaspoons of the purée and loosened with a little milk.  If you want a deeper pink add more purée. 

After baking

For the Vanilla icing 75g icing sugar and 25g soft butter, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a tablespoon of milk (approx).

For the chocolate and coffee icing 75g icing sugar and 25g soft butter, add 2 teaspoons of cocoa and 1 teaspoon of coffee extract and mix.  A little milk can be added here as well to adjust the consistency.

If you want to make the cake look more professional slice the top peak off each sponge layer to get them to sit together better.  I didn’t as it was just for us to eat here.  If you don’t the cake will be slightly “bockety”.

Cut a big slice, kick off your shoes, sit back and enjoy!

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  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. It tastes great as well particularly the blackcurrant 😉

  3. What a beautiful looking cake, really must try. Thanks for sharing look forward to trying.

  4. He has very good taste 😉

  5. Aoife Doody

    i can verify it was yummy!!! and my 9 month old agreed whole heartidly! he mobbed the half a slice i gave him!

  6. Luckily the bockety look doesn't affect the taste 😉

  7. I think the slightly bockety look lends a certain rustic charm!

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