Stop Lookin'. Get Cookin'.

Serving up simple food, inspiring ideas and connecting along the way.

Guest Post – Baking with All Natural Ingredients

My friend Candice is a talented cake decorator living in Green Bay, WI.  Awhile back she wrote up this guest post for me outlining her first experience baking with all natural ingredients.  If you’ve been wondering how all natural compares to your typical conventional ingredients – read on.  I found it very interesting!  She even included the recipes she used.  Thanks Candice!

To see what Candice can create for you – head to her website, All Occasions Green Bay for more information or follow her on Facebook and you’ll get to see all of the sweets she creates for her clients.

Cake Complete

By Candice Kunesh

The other day a good friend of mine asked me if I could make a Baby Shower cake with matching cupcakes using as many all-natural and organic ingredients as possible.  At first I thought, “No problem!  How different could it be from using typical ingredients?”  Then I started over-thinking things and started getting scared.  My recipes using typical ingredients are tried and true, but I had no clue how using different ingredients would make things turn out.  What if the texture didn’t come out right?  What if it didn’t taste right?  What if I couldn’t get my frosting techniques to work well?  Would my reputation as the go-to cake maker be ruined?!?

My friend was going to supply all of the ingredients to make the cake, cupcakes, and white frosting, so that wasn’t a problem.  My first hurdle was to find all-natural dyes to color the frosting.  While I was researching all-natural dyes I found many recipes that would potentially work.  However, some of them involved boiling cabbage and evaporating down the liquid.  My first thought about this procedure was, “Will this make the frosting taste like cabbage?”  Blech!  Thankfully, after doing some further research, I found a supplier of all-natural dyes and was able to have them shipped in time.  Whew!  After I received the dyes, I read the label and found that a couple of them used cabbage extract.  After I opened the bottle and smelled them, I got worried about the taste of the frosting all over again!  Yikes!

On baking day I started opening the all-natural and organic baking ingredients and started to worry even more.  Some of the all-natural and organic ingredients had unique, distinct odors and bore no visual resemblance to main-stream ingredients.  For example, the organic coconut sugar consisted of large, hard, dark brown crystals.  The crystals also had a mocha-like odor to them.  These buggers were so large that I decided that I needed to grind them down in a food processor because I was afraid that they would not dissolve enough in the cake batter.  Also, relative to main-stream sugar and salt, the organic evaporated cane sugar and pure Himalayan natural unprocessed culinary salt had a light brownish color and large crystals.  However, these two ingredients were close enough the main-stream that I decided no special treatment would be needed.

Ingredients Sugars

After mixing up all of the ingredients for the all-natural/organic chocolate cake, the mix looked the same as my typical chocolate cake mix.  However, for the yellow cake, it was obvious that the mix (on the right) was extremely different from my typical yellow cake mix (on the left).

Cake Mixes - labeled

Upon adding the wet ingredients, both the chocolate and yellow batters were thicker than I was used to so I ended up adding some water to bring the consistency where I wanted it.  Both the chocolate and the yellow batters baked as expected.  Upon breaking open the cupcakes, the chocolate cupcakes looked exactly like my typical cupcakes but the yellow cupcakes looked quite a bit denser.

CC Batter CCs

CC Yel CC Choc

The yellow cakes baked as expected, but unmolding them from the cake forms proved to be a bit more difficult.  I needed to cut around the edges of the forms to loosen the edges and did quite a bit of tapping, pounding, and flexing on the cake pans to finally get the cakes out.  As you can see from the pictures, although I didn’t successfully get one of the molded cakes out in one piece, they had the same density as the cupcakes.

Cake Unmolded Cake Cut

I attribute the lack of unmolding success to one or two things. First, I didn’t use my CK Pan Grease.  CK Pan Grease is awesome! (I agree – Pan Grease is awesome