Baking a naturally red velvet cake that contains no artificial food coloring was quite an interesting foray. I do bake with food coloring every now and then as I love the convenience and wide range of pretty colors. But once in a while you want to test if something is possible, and this is one such instance where I wanted to see it for myself.
I made a puree out of red beets to color the cake red, then decorated the cake with macarons filled with raspberry filling. I added a tablespoon of the beet puree to enhance the color of the macaron filling. The addition of the beet puree to the macaron filling did not in any way alter the flavor of raspberry.
This cake was baked in three 7-inch round cake pans. A cross section reveals cake in a natural hue of red as opposed to bright red.
This naturally red velvet cake comes out deliciously moist and pairs well with cream cheese frosting that’s so good it’s like cheesecake in the form of frosting. The cake doesn’t taste like beets, in the same way that carrot cake doesn’t taste anything like carrots.
And then I proceeded to bake another cake this time using 8-inch round cake pans.
The white macarons are plain without any added color or flavoring as I wanted them to match the color of the cream cheese frosting.
The 8-inch naturally red velvet cake came out shorter than the 7-inch cake as expected since there’s more space for the batter to spread in a larger pan. I did add an extra two tablespoons of the beet puree to the batter which made the redness of this cake more pronounced. Naturally red velvet cake paired with cream cheese frosting make for a fantastic combination.
Here’s another look at that 7-inch naturally red velvet cake to show the difference in red tones.
Making the beet puree is really simple. Just slice 3 or 4 beets in half, place them in a baking dish, add a little water, cover the dish with foil and bake the beets for about an hour until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Let the beets cool then peel off the skins. Place the beets in a food processor and blend them together with lemon juice and a touch of vinegar. Measure out ¾ cup of beet puree to add to the cake batter. You can add one or two more tablespoons like I did, if you like. Make the cake batter then mix in the beet puree towards the end. Bake the cake layers. Let them cool completely in the pans before turning out. Fill and cover the cake with cream cheese frosting.
For a quick, no fuss way of frosting the cake, press the back of a spoon all around the surface to give it some texture. Naturally red velvet cake made red with beets is quite a novel approach. It’s an option if you prefer to use all natural ingredients. As for me, this is how I’ll be making red velvet cake from now on.
- 3 large red beets / or 4 small
- 8 tablespoons water
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vinegar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (405 g)
- 4 teaspoons baking powder (20 g)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons Hershey’s natural cocoa powder (not dutch) (6 g)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (2 g)
- 1 cup / 2 sticks unsalted butter (226 g)
- 2 cups granulated sugar (424 g)
- 4 whole eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ cup buttermilk (190 g)
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons beet puree (217 g)
- 1 cup / 2 sticks unsalted butter (226 g)
- 2 packages cream cheese (452 g)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 7 cups powdered sugar (820 g)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 – 2 teaspoons milk
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice the red beets in half and place in a shallow baking dish. Pour the water over the beets. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour until the beets are tender when pierced with a fork. Let the beets cool, then peel the skins off. Puree the beets in a food processor together with the lemon juice. Process until smooth and thick. Add the vinegar and pulse to blend. Measure out¬ ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons beet puree and set aside.
- Spray three 8-inch round pans or 7-inch round pans with non-stick cooking spray.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and ground cinnamon, then whisk to combine.
- Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the flat beater attachment, cream the butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla extract and mix to blend.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients in three parts alternating with the buttermilk. Start and end with the dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl and beat until the batter is smooth and well blended.
- Add the beet puree and beat further to blend just until the batter is smooth. Mix the batter with a few final strokes by hand with a silicon spatula.
- Divide and level off the batter among the three baking pans. Bake for 30 – 32 minutes in an oven preheated to 350°F.
- Remove the pans from the oven and place on a wire rack. Let the cakes cool completely in the pans before turning out.
- Using the flat beater of a stand mixer, cream the butter until smooth and fluffy.
- Add the cream cheese beating further until well combined.
- Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time beating well before adding the next cup.
- Mix in the vanilla extract.
- Add milk only as needed if frosting needs to be slackened.
- Place one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread about ½ - ¾ cup frosting on the surface. Top with a second cake layer and repeat with the third cake layer. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides of the cake. Chill the cake for 15 – 20 minutes>
- Spread the rest of the frosting evenly all over the cake. Press the back of a spoon on the surface to give the frosting some texture.
- Decorate the top of the cake with macarons filled with any red filling such as raspberry or strawberry. Or an easier option would be to sprinkle red M&M’s on top.
- Store the cake in a cake keeper in the refrigerator.
Naturally Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting