Beet Red Velvet Cake

This cake is madness.

The frosting is pink, but it tastes like creamy, tangy lime.

This was a belated birthday cake made for my sister—she of blue-loving, pink-loathing tendencies—and the towering three-layer creation was frosted in the most sickly-sweet, cotton-candy-like shade of pink. And she loved it.

This cake is made with beets, and my brother still likes it. Case closed.

However, this cake is not the slightest bit healthy, so don’t get too excited. (Or in my brother’s case, get very excited.)

I don’t know when exactly my excitement over incorporating weird things into desserts waned (oh wait, yes I do. Avocado brownies, anyone?), but a visit from my sister’s college friend helped turned things around. Before I knew it, we were squealing over the discovery of our mutual desire to try making a red velvet cake with beets and planning our baking session.

So this cake: not healthy, no. But I did modify the frosting! And I think it’s my best modified recipe yet 🙂


Joy of Joy the Baker suggests that you roast the beets–which makes sense, considering your oven will be on anyway. But we boiled our beets because that’s how I usually make them and it generally takes 30-45 minutes, compared to the estimated hour that roasting would take. Both options are detailed below.

This cake is not of my usual favorite genre of moist, tender-to-the-point-of-falling-apart chocolate cakes. It is dense and on the drier side, with a hefty chew to each mouthful–but not, amazingly, in a bad way. it’s just different, slightly more hearty and toothsome in a way that reminds me of banana bread.

It is well-tempered by the sweetness and lime-y tartness and cream cheesy tangy-ness (can someone please find me another, equally awesome word for tangy?) from the frosting. Words I never thought my cream-cheese-hating-self would say.

Pictured above: perhaps the ugliest piece of cake ever sliced.

Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes one 8 or 9-inch layer cake

Adapted from Joy the Baker

For the Cake:

2 medium beets, tops trimmed (to yield approximately ¾ cup cooked, grated beets)

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus wrappers for greasing the pans

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups milk (I used 1%)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

For the Frosting:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

8 ounces (1 brick) cream cheese, softened

2-3 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons finely grated beets, mashed with a fork

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

juice of one lemon-lime (or just lime)

Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

TO ROAST BEETS: Thoroughly wash beets under running water, and trim their leaves, leaving about 1/2 inch of stem.  Place clean beets in a piece of foil.  Drizzle with just a bit of vegetable oil.  Seal up foil.  Place on a baking sheet in the oven.  Roast until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour.

Remove the beets from the oven.  Open the foil and allow beets to cool completely.  Beets will be easy to peel (just using a paring knife) once completely cooled.

TO BOIL BEETS: Place beets in a medium saucepan filled halfway with water (or until beets are mostly covered). Bring to a boil and simmer for 35-40 minutes. Once beets are tender and easily pierced with a fork, drain and let cool. You can use your hands or a knife to peel the beets, which will be easy to peel once cooled.

Once beets are cooked, follow these cake directions:

Using a box grater, grate the peeled beets on the finest grating plane.  Measure 3/4 cup of grated beets for the cake and 2 tablespoons for the frosting.  Set aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.  Use butter wrappers to grease two 8 or 9-inch round baking pans.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars.  Beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, for one minute after each addition.   Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Once eggs are incorporated, beat in beets and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture.  Beating on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk.  Once just incorporated, add the other half of the dry ingredients.  Beat on medium speed until milk and dry ingredients are just incorporated.  Try not to overmix the batter.  Bowl can be removed from the mixer and mixture folded with a spatula to finish incorporating ingredients.  Cake batter will be on the thick side… not pourable.

Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans.  Bake for 23 to 25 minutes (for a 9-inch pan) or 30-32 minutes (for an 8-inch pan).  Cake is done when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove cakes from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Invert cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting and assembling the cake.

To make the Frosting:

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat room temperature cream cheese for 30 seconds, until pliable and smooth.  Add room temperature butter and beat for another 30 seconds, until well combined.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl as necessary.  Beat in the beets.  Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice.  Beat on medium speed until smooth and silky.  Refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes before frosting the cooled cakes.

To assemble the cake, place one layer of cake on a cake stand or cake plate.  Top with a generous amount of pink frosting.  Spread evenly.  Place the other cake on top of the frosting.  Top with frosting.  Work frosting onto the sides of the cake.  You will have extra frosting left over.  Refrigerate for an hour before serving (it will make the cake easier to slice).  Cake will last, well wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.



2 responses to “Beet Red Velvet Cake

  1. Pingback: Pancake Fridays: Red Velvet Pancakes | The Pancake Princess and the Protein Prince·

  2. Pingback: Red Velvet Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream « The Pancake Princess and the Protein Prince·

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