Just my 2 cents here. Good point on the type of food color you use. I found that different brands of the cheap liquid stuff are different shades of red, too. The last RV cake I made was with a different brand that I'd used in the past, and I was worried about it being too dark so I cut back on the coloring. It did get a little darker in the baking process, but the client loved it. And the batter was technicolor red! It literally was the color of blood when it came out of the oven. I use cheap food coloring in RV cake because I usually make a large batch of it. The gel is too expensive for that.