Red Velvet Cake with Fresh Beet Puree

by Maria Barlett

Why would anyone use a bottle or red food coloring when pureed beet add not only every bit of the vivid color, but the moistness that is so characteristic of the great classic, Red Velvet? I researched the idea and combined elements of several recipes I found. I have made it for birthdays and it is as vibrant (if not more so) in color, flavor and texture as other recipes made with food colorings.

Red Velvet Cake with Fresh Beet Puree

Makes 2 9" layers or 2 8”PLUS a 6 inch mini layer (for chef’s pleasure).

Ingredients and Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease, line and dust two 9” cake pans.
Technique: Using a paper towel or pastry brush, butter entire pan. Press parchment circles in bottoms, then brush butter over paper. Dust with cocoa or flour.

Stage 1- Mix dry ingredients
2 ½ cups cake flour
3 tablespoons Hershey’s cocoa powder
1 teaspoon fine Himalayan pink salt (or whatever salt you have).
2 teaspoons baking powder

In a bowl (not your stand mixer bowl!) whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder.

Stage 2- Make beet liquid
1 ¼ cup cubed fresh beet
¾ cup orange juice
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons vinegar
4 eggs (reserve 2 for stage 3)

Make beet puree/liquid: Pierce and roast fresh beets ‘til soft, and at point where skins easily peel off. Cool, peel and cut beets into ½ inch cubes (good to do this the night before baking!). Measure 1 ¼ cup cubed beets and puree in a blender. You may add the orange juice to assist in the puree, and then gently blend/whisk together the rest of orange juice, milk, vinegar and 2 eggs. Set aside.

Stage 3
1 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract, or 1 t. vanilla & 1 tsp. almond extracts.
2 ½ cups sugar
2 remaining eggs

Cream the butter and sugar. When fluffy, add flavorings and the two remaining eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then blend in alternately 1/3 of beet liquid followed by 1/3 dry ingredients, mixing well until all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes, (if making a small cake check it after 20) or until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops look firm. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting (see frosting recipe below). You may freeze the cooled cakes at this point.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Mix together in stand blender:
• 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
• 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
• 2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
• 1-2 tablespoons milk
When frosting the cake, spread a thin crumb coat. You can crumb-coated layers in the fridge for 1/2 hour to harden if you like- then continue to frost.

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