My granddaughter desperately wanted to make pink, as in 'VERY PINK' cakes today. We made some last weekend but they were not quite pink enough. I tried really hard to get some food colouring which is stable in baking but does not contain any of the dreaded 'E' numbers. I would have settled for good old fashioned cochineal, but I couldn't find any.
Which is a shame because I just happen to have stumbled across a recipe for home-made food colouring based upon
those little cochineal beetles.
To make Colouring
One ounce of cochineal, boil it in half a pint of water, five or ten minutes the add half an ounce of Cream of Tartar and half an ounce of Alum* add two ounces of loaf sugar, give it a boil, let it settle then pour it off and bottle it for use.
*Alum is also used in Baking Powder, so I suppose we have all ingested it at some point and it is considered to be safe.
Cochineal is a scarlet dye made from the crushed dried bodies of a female scale insect. Sounds yummy, but on balance I think I'd rather use cochineal than some of the awful artificial colourants and E numbers which are put into modern food dyes, but that is my personal preference.
We made pink cakes, following a handwritten recipe in another one of my old books.
Rose Almond Cakes
4oz ground almonds
Essence of Almonds
No method or baking instructions were given. I simply followed the usual method of creaming the butter and sugar, gradually beating in the eggs, then add the flour, almonds, 'cochineal' and Almond Essence.
We baked them in a mix of cupcake wrappers and silicone heart-shaped moulds, at about 160 degrees. However, you know your own oven.
She was very happy with the results, the cakes are definitely pink on the inside. The big heart-shaped ones are for daddy and Grandpa, of course.
This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!
The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.
I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.