Beet Red Velvet Cake with Chèvre Frosting (Project 1609112)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Finally, a recipe for red velvet cake that actually tastes great, and is devoid of chemical colourants.
Beet plays a starring role here, not only to tinge this cake a lovely deep red, but also gives it a healthy dose of iron and a multitude of other nutrients: vitamin C, fiber, potassium and manganese. Definitely a good way to sneak in, or incorporate, produce in your desserts ;)

This was Max's birthday cake, one of four cakes that I made for the quad's birthday. The theme this year was veggies, yes, veggies. For the cakes, I mean. Not the party, LOL! Max's designated colour was pink, and so red velvet, being red, was appropriate. And so it was only natural that the cake would 'naturally' be beet red, not Red 40 red. The other cakes were German's Chocolate Cake (with coconut), Zucchini Chocolate Cake, and Vegan Chocolate Cake (with applesauce). See, really isn't hard to fortify your desserts with produce.

This cake was moist, was delicious, and the mild tartness of the goat cheese in the frosting was perfect with this cake. Sadly it was much too late to take pictures when this cake was sliced, and I was leaving on a jet plane the very next day, so no pictures of cake innards this time. You're just going to have to take my word on how amazing it is.

Yes, there's a lot of acidity here, if only to cut through the cocoa and actually make the cake a light shade of burgundy. Also, cocoa matters. Get the best natural cocoa you can find. I used Camino, a dark red coloured cocoa, which made the cake a lovely red. Dutch processed, or darker cocoa will not take you anywhere near red. Speaking from experience, of course ... having made a brown velvet cake before.

So if you're looking for a natural red velvet cake, this one is it. If you're adventurous enough, make the chèvre and cream cheese frosting with it. And please, don't forget to douse it with rum cake syrup to bring it to the next level.

Beet Red Velvet Cake
5 medium sized beets, washed, and trimmed of stalks and leaves.

270 ml (1 cup + 2 tbsp) buttermilk
1 large lemon, juiced (about 3 tbsp)
20 ml (4 tsp) white vinegar
3 tsp vanilla extract

300 g (scant 2-1/2 cups) cake flour
35 g (5 tbsp) natural cocoa powder, not dutch processed
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

260 g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) butter, at room temperature
400 g (2 cups) light brown sugar
4 eggs + 1 yolk, at room temperature

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set the oven to 175C or 350F.
2. With a sharp knife, make shallow cuts (2cm) deep into the center. This will help cook it faster.
3. Place them on the baking sheet, and bake for about 90 minutes, or until a knife cuts through clean and smooth.
4. When cool to touch, peel, and chop. We'll need 1-1/2 cups for the purée.
You can prepare the beets a day before and refrigerate it in an airtight container.

5. Preheat the oven to 175C or 350F.
6. Grease and flour 3 9-inch cake pans, and set aside.

7. Place the 1-1/2 cups of beets, buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar, and vanilla extract in a blender or food processor, and purée till smooth. Set this aside.
8. In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set this aside.
9. In a stand mixer, or a large bowl, beat the softened butter with the sugar until creamy and lightened in colour.
10. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the yolk, waiting until it is incorporated before adding the next one, and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
11. Alternate adding the flour, in 3 additions, and the beet purée in 2 additions. Begin and end with the flour.
12. Divide the batter between the 3 cake pans, smooth the surface with a spatula, and tap it on a towel-lined counter lightly to remove the air pockets.
13. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
14. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
15. Brush with rum cake syrup, then frost with cream cheese frosting.

Chèvre and Cream Cheese Frosting
This recipe makes enough to sandwich and cover a three layered cake. If you want to just sandwich the cake, like I did, make half the recipe. The cake I made in the picture above is frosted with Italian Meringue buttercream, recipe here, which I find holds its place especially in warmer weather, which is when we have all our birthdays ;)

240 g cream cheese
240 g chèvre (goat cheese)
240 g (1 cup) butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 - 3 tbsp milk, or as needed

1. In a stand mixer, or a large bowl, beat the chèvre and the cream cheese until smooth.
2. Add the butter in 3 additions, followed with the salt, then the vanilla extract.
3. Slowly add the icing sugar at a low speed, a cup at a time.
4. Once all the sugar is mixed in, turn up the speed and whip it for 5-6 minutes to 'fluff' it up.
5. If it seems a bit thick to spread out, add the milk as necessary.

Rum Cake Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup rum (optional)
Boil water in a saucepan, then stir in the sugar until dissolved. When cooled, add the rum.
This amped up simple syrup will keep your cakes moist and fresh.

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