CakeInMug III: Red-Velvet-ish Delicious! [still Gluten Free!]

 Here is part I in case you have to catch up…  So I made this earlier post— I threatened to reveal a red velvet microwave mug cake.  So today was my first experiment. I did not get the color– I think I needed more vinegar and to mix it better– but I did get a VERY NICE dark chocolate brownie-mug-cake.

modified from wikimedia.. under license cc Share-alike 2.0. Photo courtesy of Stu Spivack

modified from wikimedia.. under license cc Share-alike 2.0
. Photo courtesy of Stu Spivack

How did I think I could do such a thing? I mean, sure you can add a bunch of red food coloring. Yeah, that’s what a lot of people do.  Look below, and see what I mean.

cc-2.0 Generic Share-a-like: Click on it for specific Attributions.

cc-2.0 Generic Share-a-like: Click on it for specific Attributions.

All of these (except maybe the one on the lower left) have a pinky-shade embedded in the red that all modern cakes have– because they over-use the food coloring. These food coloring conspiracy theorists think that this image below is the first red velvet cake recipe.


Sure, it seems plausible at first. So where did this idea come from that the Original Red Velvet Cake [tm] recipe did not use two bottles of red food coloring, and indeed relied on an obscure chemical reaction between cocoa powder alkali and some buttermilk (and usually vinegar) to make that sumptuous dark red color?  Look carefully at the first image of Red Velvet Cake I post and that is closer to the true red velvet color that I remember from childhood.

You see, it’s not merely legend.  My grandmother used to make it for VERY special occasions when I was very small. It was a dark red… in some ways close to a dark brown or black. The texture should be dense yet fluffy but not airy like angel food .. almost like devil’s food only not quite as heavy. If you don’t get everything exactly right, the color looks like burnt chocolate. The result was an ugly brown with an orange foamy fringe. Which is… um, interesting, but the polite southern belles would cover their mouths with a gloved hand and mutter “Well, bless her heart”.

This result was usually blamed on not using the right type of flour (self-rising was unacceptable), or you did not get enough vinegar into the mix. Or you used that infernal modern buttermilk and not slightly warm stuff right from the churn.  That is why we moderns must use vinegar, alas.

As a matter of precaution, my grandmother did used to use a bit of red food color. But honey, not two bottles worth. It was maybe two teaspoons (or maybe a tablespoon), which was considered a bit edgy, but not  using food coloring like Granny put away vanilla extract. The mysterious reaction was what gave it a truly dark mahogany/auburn color with a flush of Red Lake. IMNSHO, the other reds just don’t cover it. That is Red Velour, honey, not Red Velvet.  Red Velvet looks near black in most light, and that is what the name was supposed to apply.  Heck, David Lynch fans know that Blue Velour is NOT the same as Blue Velvet.

So it was in this spirit that I moved forward thinking about my mug cake. However, I did not bother with food coloring at all.  After all I was feeling like a bit of a purist this morning. I think the results were definitely worth it… even if I did not get my deep red color.

One last mention of the grand Original Red Velvet cake: it does taste a bit tangy, as well as a luscious cushion of chocolaty goodness. It has a flavor all it’s own that cannot come from a bottle of food dye.

This is really pretty gourmet for baking it in the microwave!

The recipe is very similar to my last installment, that is–

Margo’s Brown Velvet Microwave Cake in a Mug

  • 3 tbs of gluten free flour (Bob’s Red Mill analog– based on bean flours)
  • 1 tbs of Ameranth flour
  • 1/8th tsp of baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp of salt (I used Real Celtic Sea Salt this time)
  •  3tbs of baking cocoa powder
  • 3 tbs of Coconut sugar
  • 1 Large Chicken Egg
  • 3 tbs of Grapeseed Oi
  •  3 tbs of Cultured Coconut Beverage
  • 1/8th tsp vinegar
  • 1/16th tsp chocolate extract 
  • 1/16 tsp of vanilla extract

Sift flours together. Then add the baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Sift again, then stir well. This is important for texture– especially if you freeze your flours.  Personally, I think that sifting a small quantity of flour is much easier than making big batches for real cakes.  I just put it through my tea- sieve into a separate bowl with a pitcher lip.  Here below is a picture to one of my favorite vessels for making servings for one…

Taken By Me.

Taken By Me. Click for purchasing details.

You have to be kinda careful if you actually beat your egg in this, but it can be done if you are careful. I have berry bowls where I do that, then use this to pour it back into the mug. I am not certain why it is that I can pour the egg from the berry bowl into this without incident, whereas directly pouring from the berry bowl into the mug always causes disaster, but I’m sure physics (or Murphy) is involved.

I also sift the flours into a big bowl, then pour it in this, then pour it into the mug. The reason for that is that the mixing bowl I use for sifting has an extremely wide pitcher lip, so it tends to get flour everywhere but where I want it. For some reason, pouring it into the above vessel is less spurious, because you can use the wide lip above to funnel the material back into the base where it belongs. Then I use that to funnel the flours into the sifter, and it all just works without a fuss.  The second sifting happens directly into the mug.

Then, I beat the egg and pour it into the pitcher thingie along with the pre-measured oil, and the chocolate and vanilla extracts. Then you add the sugar to the mug, then the egg mixture, then you can stir it all up.

Then I measure the cultured coconut beverage (mentioned here previously) and the put it in a different mini-pitcher bowl with the vinegar.  Add to the mug, then stir again, quickly.  This way, you don’t add your acids until later.

 After you stir the second time, you add the chocolate chips. (I could not quite give them up)  I used a fork to distribute them shallowly through the surface of the batter. Then I tossed the pampered micro-cake into Chef Mike and tapped it for 2.5 minutes on HIGH.  This is what I pulled out of the Microwave:

By Me. Mine!

By Me. Mine!

I think the additional 30 seconds was a little bit too much. It was a little tough around the edges on the bottom of the mug.  This toughness is nothing that wouldn’t be a feature in brownies! The mug also took longer than two minutes to cool– so you want to use a mitt. Do that unlike I did. Spare yourself the singed flesh.

Yep, the reason why there is that piece that is partially removed is that it smelled so good I had to restrain myself from eating it!

The Smell of Wonder wafted from my microwave at around :46 seconds to go.  I let it go to the end, just because.  And, that is the result!

Here are more shots to give you an idea of what is happening.

Me. Mine. Yum!

Me. Mine. Yum!   (click to see larger size)

It is interesting that the texture was much better than I have ever had it before– so I think that the additional acid or something in the cultured coconut added something special to the mix. Also the chocolate was much chocolatier than even an additional hit of cocoa powder could adequately explain. The beany-ness I experienced in my last experiment was entirely gone. Not a single trace of it remained, even though I was looking for it with OCD fueled rectitude.

Yum Again!

Yum Again!

Other than being a little bit heavier than before… the flake was more pronounced and the slightly rubbery texture was also COMPLETELY gone. It was tender, despite the “brownie corners” in the ring around the bottom of the mug. And yes, the little jewels of chocolate chips were still melty and wonderful.

Below is a serving suggestion. It goes great with ice cream!

With Luna and Larrys Coconut Bliss "Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge" Yeah, baby!

With Luna and Larrys Coconut Bliss “Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge”
Yeah, baby!  (click to see larger size)

This is hands-down the best recipe yet!  It is moist and tender, with a dense crumb.  The flavor was very chocolaty– much more pronounced and delicious than ever before! It does not have quite the tang that I’d hoped, but the extra acid most definitely added something critical to the mix.

I might shave a few seconds off the cook time (maybe amp the acid slightly, too) next time.

I will of course let you know the results.


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