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Vanilla & Strawberry Basil Cake

March 13, 2015

St. Patrick’s Day is near, so it’s time to celebrate with a little green in your life!

Our lovely intern, we call Ruby the Intern, suggested this delicious recipe for a green-colored cake. I was particularly excited to try it for two reasons: 1)  it involves natural green food dye 2) it’ll force me to bake, which I really…really don’t like doing. 2015 is the year of overcoming fears — can I get an amen?!

First, let’s talk dye:

spinach and basil natural food dye

The cake batter is flavored by vanilla and basil. It may seem weird at first, but together with vanilla and strawberry (you’ll see soon), the basil produces a mellow flavor, which surprisingly tastes a bit like matcha green tea. Not only is it delicious, but it gives the cake a natural green color, without artificial dyes!

natural green food dye

I wanted to go all out with green, but I didn’t want to overwhelm the cake with basil in the frosting, too. So Ruby and I came up with a tasty solution: mix pureed strawberries for flavor to compliment the basil, and spinach as the dye. Unlike basil, spinach is more neutral in flavor, and is easily masked by sugar and fruits! Think about how you may add spinach in your smoothies – you get the nutritional benefits, without a lingering vegetable element.

When making both dyes, puree a handful of their leaves in a blender with a small amount of water. Once blended, pour it through a strainer and into a jar. You’ll get the vibrant coloring agent, without the pulp!

Now onto the recipe (full ingredient list to follow):

dry ingredients

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to mix.

vanilla

Combine butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. beat on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until lightened in texture and color.

egg

Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

flour

On low speed, add half the dry ingredients.

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Beat in the milk or buttermilk, and after its absorbed, add the rest of the dry ingredients.

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Add about 4 tablespoon of the basil dye to the batter. On medium speed beat the batter continuously for 3 minutes.

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Butter the bottom of the cake tins, trace them on the parchment, cut out the circles and place them inside the pan. Then butter the entire pan, and repeat everything with the other pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Test if they’re done by piercing the middle of the cakes with a toothpick. It should come out clean, if they’re ready. Put them aside to cool and work on the frosting.

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Blend a few strawberries with a small amount of water, until smooth. Pour through a strainer and reserve the juice.
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 Combine the butter and 1/2 cup of the confectioners sugar until blended.
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 Slowly add the spinach dye, a tablespoon at a time. Fully blend everything together before you alternate and add the remaining sugar a 1/2 cup at a time.
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 Scrape down the edges of your mixing, and add a few tablespoons of the strawberry juice. Mix again until fully incorporated.
::Important Note:: To prevent your buttercream frosting from separating, be sure to mix well after each addition and alternate small amounts of the ingredients.
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 Frost your cakes, and decorate the edges with strawberry slices! Since I’m horrible at cake decorating, this easy assembly eased my baking anxieties. Phew! Good thing it’s damn tasty!
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 We hope you’ll enjoy this naturally-dyed green cake for your St. Patrick’s day celebration! And if baking makes you crazy, too, then I highly advise sippin’ on a Guinness while you’re at it. Cheers!
Vanilla & Strawberry Basil Cake
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • For the Cake:
  • 1¾ cup of flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 and ½ sticks of butter, plus extra to butter the tins
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ cup of milk
  • basil food dye
  • 2 nine-inch cake pans
  • parchment paper
  • For the Frosting:
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 cups of confectioners sugar (The equivalent of one whole box)
  • 2-3 tablespoons spinach food dye
  • 4 strawberries, blended until smooth
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to mix.
  2. Combine butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. beat on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until lightened in texture and color. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. On low speed, add half the dry ingredients. Beat in the milk , and after its absorbed, add the rest of the dry ingredients. Place the basil in the blender and blend it up until it has a very smooth consistency. Strain, reserve liquid, and add it in to the batter. On medium speed beat the batter continuously for 3 minutes.
  3. Butter the bottom of the cake tins, trace them on the parchment, cut out the circles and place them inside the pan. Then butter the entire pan, and repeat everything with the other pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool
  4. For the frosting:
  5. combine the butter and ½ cup of the confectioners sugar until blended.
  6. Continue adding more confectioners sugar ½ cup at a time, until it is incorporated before adding more.
  7. Add the spinach food dye, and strawberries and blend.
Thanks for the recipe, Ruby!

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