Red Velvet Cake with a Fraction of the Food Colouring | Shifting Roots

Red Velvet Cake with a Fraction of the Food Colouring

Red Velvet Cake is like that girl at the party who laughs a little too loud, wears a little too much make-up, and tries just a little too hard to be your friend. She’s really an awesome person, she’s just overcompensating.  If you got to know her a little better, you’d really like her.

Maybe I’m reading too much into a cake.  Anyway. . .

Looking for a the Goldilocks of Red Velvet cakes with cream cheese frosting?  This one is made with beets, very little food colouring, and without buttermilk.  It's an easy, from scratch recipe that's perfect for your Valentines day baking. #redvelvetcake #creamcheesefrosting #beets #fancycake #Valentinesday #baking #valentinesbaking #bakingwithbeets #bakingwithvegetables

The Problem with the Typical Red Velvet Cake

I’ve never tried baking a red velvet cake before because it felt like too much. Too much sweetness and way too much red food dye! It practically tastes like chemicals. The thought of putting a whole bottle of red food dye in a cake had me running the other way.

But when one of my best friends asked for a red velvet cheesecake for her 40th birthday, I resolved to find a compromise. Die hard red velvet fans are probably not going to like this cake. But if you’re like me and looking for a simple solution to all the food dye, this is it.

Related: Lucious Lemon Cake and Strawberry Zucchini Cake

Looking for a the Goldilocks of Red Velvet cakes with cream cheese frosting?  This one is made with beets, very little food colouring, and without buttermilk.  It's an easy, from scratch recipe that's perfect for your Valentines day baking. #redvelvetcake #creamcheesefrosting #beets #fancycake #Valentinesday #baking #valentinesbaking #bakingwithbeets #bakingwithvegetables

The secret ingredient is pickled beets. Say what?!?

I promise you won’t taste the beets or the vinegar they are pickled in. Traditional red velvet cakes that use beets make you peel them, cook them for 40 minutes, then make them into a puree and then add vinegar. You also have to find cocoa powder that is not Dutch Process. Basically, this means you’ve lost an extra 40 minutes of your life to a cake and you have to carefully check a health food store or order on line to get the right cocoa powder.

Let’s be real, I’m probably not going to do these things.

You'll never guess the secret ingredient of this Red Velvet Cake. A fraction of the food colouring and perfect results.Click To Tweet

Looking for a the Goldilocks of Red Velvet cakes with cream cheese frosting?  This one is made with beets, very little food colouring, and without buttermilk.  It's an easy, from scratch recipe that's perfect for your Valentines day baking. #redvelvetcake #creamcheesefrosting #beets #fancycake #Valentinesday #baking #valentinesbaking #bakingwithbeets #bakingwithvegetables

The Compromise for Perfect Results

However, the chemical reaction between the cocoa powder and the vinegar is what gives it the right shade of red. Mess it up and your cake will either be too purple or too brown.

So what’s the solution? Pickled beet puree, regular cocoa powder, and only 1/2 tsp red gel food colouring to ensure you get it right.

If you love this cake, you’ll love No Bake Saskatoon Berry Cheesecake and Cheesecake Brownie Bars.

Looking for a the Goldilocks of Red Velvet cakes with cream cheese frosting?  This one is made with beets, very little food colouring, and without buttermilk.  It's an easy, from scratch recipe that's perfect for your Valentines day baking. #redvelvetcake #creamcheesefrosting #beets #fancycake #Valentinesday #baking #valentinesbaking #bakingwithbeets #bakingwithvegetables

I’m super pleased with the results. The recipe is still a little finicky because you need to make two icings: a thicker one for the middle to mimic the cheesecake centre of the cheesecake factory version and hold the cake together, and a thiner one to decorate the cake and provide some contrast to all the thickness.

But it’s totally worth it.

Looking for a the Goldilocks of Red Velvet cakes with cream cheese frosting?  This one is made with beets, very little food colouring, and without buttermilk.  It's an easy, from scratch recipe that's perfect for your Valentines day baking. #redvelvetcake #creamcheesefrosting #beets #fancycake #Valentinesday #baking #valentinesbaking #bakingwithbeets #bakingwithvegetables

P.S. I did not edit the saturation in any of these photos, so this is the red you should end up with.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Icing


2 hours
Serves 16

Cake:
2 1/2 cup flour,
3 tbsp cocoa powder,
3/4 cup salted butter,
2 tsp baking soda,
2 cup sugar,
4 eggs,
1/2 cups pureed pickled beets,
6 tbsp pickled beet juice,
1/2 tsp red food colouring,

Filling:
1 pkg cream cheese,
3/4 cup salted butter,
1 tsp vanilla extract,
1 1/2 cups icing sugar,

Icing:
1 cup whipping cream,
1 tsp vanilla extract,
1 pkg cream cheese,
1/4 cup salted butter,
2 cups icing sugar.

Cream eggs, sugar, butter, food colouring and vanilla. In a blender, puree pickled beets and 6 tbsp pickled beet juice. Scrape the sides of the blender to get any larger pieces in the puree. Add to the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. This makes quite a thick cake batter for a denser cake.

Divide the batter among two greased 9 inch circular pans. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Let cool.

To make the filling, mix the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and icing sugar in a mixer until smooth. Pipe on one layer of cake and put the other cake on top.

Start the icing by whipping one cup of whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks. Set aside. Mix the vanilla, cream cheese, butter, and icing sugar in a mixer. When smooth, fold in whipped cream.

Decorate as you wish, or eat and enjoy!

Looking for a the Goldilocks of Red Velvet cakes with cream cheese frosting?  This one is made with beets, very little food colouring, and without buttermilk.  It's an easy, from scratch recipe that's perfect for your Valentines day baking. #redvelvetcake #creamcheesefrosting #beets #fancycake #Valentinesday #baking #valentinesbaking #bakingwithbeets #bakingwithvegetables

Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Kristen

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