A Birthday implies celebration, gifts, cake, candles, balloons, happy birthday song and, if involving adults, champagne. Oh yes, nothing less. Or maybe, there is something else. We’re not talking about the history of the cake and the tradition of candles or we’ll be going through the ancient Greece and Goddess Artemis, or the middle age Germany, the elaborated detail of the 17th century or even the more affordable 18th century period. We all know you can Google that and learn a lot about the evolution of birthday cakes. Here the most important detail of this cake is the color or I must say the chosen pigments are precisely the icing on top of the cake… literally.
Yes, it’s a festival of pinkness, a girly jollification, a party of pink blushing, suitable for the most shining princesses and ballerinas out there. Notably graceful as a tea party center piece as well. Oh the possibilities. This feast included blowing candles and silent wishes, as part of the tradition.
For my part, the challenge was to make it happen without using artificial dyes and still creating different shades of pink. There’s no need to buy food coloring in the store, if you share the concerns that links these additives to hyperactivity and attention problems in children and cancer. Nature offers a wide variety of color choices without health concerns. Something so simple, all natural and very healthy as beet juice has what it takes to make a beautiful pink palette. Safe to eat, eye and taste pleaser and capable to put on the most happy smile. Amusement at its best with no worries, as life should be.
Pink Delicious Birthday Cake
For the cake (Makes two 9-inch cake layers):
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup pure cane sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
butter and flour for the pans
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Coat two round 9-inch pans with butter and flour and set aside.
Mix the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl of a stand mixer (or hand mixer), beat butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until well combined, scrapping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Gradually, add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. At last, on low-speed, add milk and vanilla. Divide batter between the pans and bake until golden for about 28 to 30 minutes (check with a toothpick if the center comes out clean). Alternatively, the batter can be divide into two 8-inch pans with an approximate baking time of 33 to 35 minutes.
Let the cakes cool down in the pans while you prepare the frosting.
For the frosting:
Juice of 1 small red beet
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 to 3 cups confectioner’s sugar (taste it and adjust to your sweetness preference; with 3 it’s very sweet, but I think it gets more fluffy)
2 Tbsp whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Beat together cream cheese and butter until very creamy using a mixer. I like to use the whisker attachment for extra smoothness. Gradually, add the confectioner’s sugar, beating well. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until very fluffy. I usually allow at least 2 minutes on high speed to achieve the desired consistency.
Divide the frosting into three bowls. One is to be left as it is (white). On the second bowl splash a bit of beet juice, until achieving a pale pink color. On the third bowl, add more beet juice until reaching hot pink. At the end you’ll probably have some juice left. Drink it, it’s good for you.
Cover the bowls with a plastic wrap and place it in the fridge until ready to use.
To assemble the cake:
Turn out one cake layer onto a cake stand or plate. Spread some of the hot pink frosting on top. Turn out the second cake layer and place it on top of the first. Spread hot pink frosting all over the cake. Set it in the fridge.
Decorate the cake. I used a pastry tube Ateco 846 with a pastry bag to make all the flowers decoration. Start by making the little flowers around the cake with the white frosting. Then make a pretty white flower making a circle from the outside to finish in the center. If you still have frosting left make some little flowers around this big one.
Fill the pastry bag with the light pink color. To make the roses, start by piping from the center and slowly moving the tip around the center.
To make the little flowers, place the tip on each place you’d like and pipe it until reaching the desired look. Use the hot pink frosting to do a variation of these too.
Sing. Cut. Eat. Have fun!