Naked Red Velvet Cake with Beets
Have your cake and eat your veggies too. If there are beets in red velvet cake, then it must be healthy, right? This naked red velvet cake with tangy cream cheese icing highlights the earthy flavour and natural color.
Eating local, seasonal desserts during Southern Quebec winters requires some creativity! When night temperatures start to dip below zero, root vegetables store sugar in their roots to protect them from the frost. I love adding late harvest root vegetables to desserts since they are naturally sweeter. They can be so sweet that one variety (sugar beets) was formerly a cash crop that was being refined into sugar. Canada’s first refinery was established in Farnham, Quebec in the late 1800s, and it was an important Canadian industry until the mid-1900s when the low cost of sugar cane trounced the sugar beet industry (save for one refinery in landlocked Alberta.)
When I got a request for a red velvet cake, I thought of the lovely leftover beets I bought for Valentine’s Day crafts. I was inspired to include beets in my red velvet cake to achieve the signature red colour without any artificial coloring. The resulting magenta cake batter was mesmerizing! The earthy beet flavours paired perfectly with the cocoa powder, resulting in a soft and moist cake. My “naked” cake montage is meant to highlight its beautiful, natural colour. This elegant, minimalist style of cake is easy to achieve with a cake ring and acetate (links and description below).
My tangy cream cheese frosting is a natural pairing with the red velvet cake (alternatively, simple whipped cream also does the job if you’re short on time or ingredients.) The flavour and colour were uniquely distinctive and had my whole family coming back for more. I’m really excited to have this winter cake recipe in my repertoire and to share it with you!
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Four-layer six-inch cake
Beetroot Red Velvet Cake:
115g butter, room temperature
280g cake flour
30g cocoa powder
5g cream of tartar
10g baking powder
Splash of vanilla extract
195g buttermilk (or substitute with 180g milk and 15g rice vinegar)
160g grated beetroot (approximately 1 large beet)
Cream Cheese Icing:
300g Cream cheese, room temperature
30g butter, melted
Splash of vanilla extract
675g icing sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
Make Red Velvet Beet Cake:
Measure buttermilk ( or make your own substitute with milk and vinegar) and add vanilla.
Peel and grate a large red beetroot, adding it to the milk.
Using a hand blender, purée the beetroot and milk until it is very smooth.
Measure the dry ingredients and whisk them together.
In the bowl of a stand mixer beat oil, butter and sugar on medium-high until creamy.
Slow speed to medium-low and add the eggs, one at a time.
Add the dry and the wet ingredients, alternating two or three times.
Pour batter onto a lined baking tray* and bake at 350°C for approximately 20-25 minutes.
Make cream cheese icing:
In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the cream cheese until soft and fluffy.
Stream in the melted butter and vanilla.
Add in the salt and icing sugar and mix on low until combined.
Montage for a naked cake:
**If you would like to see how I do my naked cake montage, check out my reel or TikTok ! This might be particularly helpful if you’re more of a visual person or if this is your first naked cake build. **
Once completely cool, take your sheet of cake, flip it over and peel off the parchment paper.
Using a 6-inch cake ring as a guide, cut four discs of cake. (It’s OK if one disc is actually two halves- it will be a middle layer and no one will ever know!)
Measure and cut a piece of acetate liner (or strip of parchment paper) so that it lines the inside of the mold and overlaps by 1-2".
Put the acetate inside the cake ring and place the ring on a plate.
Insert a disc of cake inside the cake ring and pipe a layer of icing starting along the outside edge and working your way to the centre.
Add the second disc of cake on top and gently, but firmly press down making sure it is level and that the icing is pushed to the liner.
Continue with icing and cake for the remaining layers.
Pipe on the top layer of icing and then smooth it out using a straight icing spatula so that it is even with the top of the mold or acetate, removing any excess icing.
Place the naked cake in the fridge to set for a minimum of 2 hours.
Lift the cake ring off and pull away the acetate.
You can leave it as is, or put a little more icing around the edges as a thin crumb coat. (The cake will still shine through but the additional icing will keep the cake moist for days.)
Voila! A beautiful, natural, naked red velvet cake.
*I bake the cake on a baking sheet for several reasons; not only does it cook faster and more evenly, but you can also make a cake in any shape or size with perfectly-even layers. Added bonus: it will also leave you with offcuts to snack on (a little baker’s secret). They are so versatile that you can even store them in the freezer for cake pops or little verrines. I usually double the recipe and make two trays, allowing me to save one in the freezer for future use.