Like most people, I don’t think my dreams exceed my capabilities. Sometimes they do, but I usually relegate those ideas to the realm of fantasy. Dreams though– real ambitions–those hit the heart like an arrow and only come to fruition as a result of careful, elegant work, persistence and world-building. And a little bit of luck. And opportunity. And maybe some inelegant toil in the trenches. I have a lot of dreams, most of them involve writing, some involve cooking, some personal, some within the law. I’m often torn as to which to pursue. This is the common plight of the person with ambitions beyond a chosen field, as I suspect many of you all have. Baking a cake like this is completely ambitious. I’m not great with mastering consistency and I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to baked goods. But with all of these paralyzing thoughts about decision-making and what’s in your control and what isn’t, baking is a happy reminder that I’m alive. I’m here and engaging with the challenges. And red velvet cake makes it better…even if you don’t get it right on the first try, like me.
Red velvet cake is my favorite. I love chocolate, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something about a moist red velvet cake that just feels classic, especially when its deep ruby color comes from the earth. Beetroot is the star here. Though the beet taste is negligible, it makes its presence known through its stunning beauty alone. Red velvet. The name itself invokes images of rich, royal fabric, regal and smooth to the touch. A perfect red velvet cake is moist and sweet, but not saccharine sweet. This cake achieves that and more.
Importantly, the beets are a key step here. Don’t cut corners even though it’s a little bit of a pain. You will have a lot of left over beet puree, perfect for my absolute favorite Spanish recipe on the blog, beet and goat cheese croquettes over salmorejo Cordobes (croquetas de remolacha y queso de cabra)! I took my recipe and inspiration for this cake from Beth at Local Milk. I look forward to all of her posts and her approach to each day is refreshing. I knew when I saw this cake of hers I would have to make it. I didn’t alter much, although I used Greek yogurt instead of buttermilk (against her specific advice and instruction) and I boiled the beets over the stove instead of roasting them with water in the oven. I also used canola oil instead of coconut oil. So with a little hard work, a little dreaming, a little persistence, I actually created my favorite dessert in my own oven. Celebrate the small victories. It’ll open your eyes to realizing the big ones.
Yields 2 small bundts or one 2 layer 8” cake or about 20 cupcakes
- 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 Tbsp raw cacao or unprocessed cocoa powder (non–alkalized)
- 1/3 + 1/4 cup coconut oil (refined)(I used canola), at room temp
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs, room temp
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp reduced beet puree (fully cool)
- 2.5 tsp champagne vinegar (or other white vinegar)
- 180 g (3/4 cup) buttermilk (or Greek yogurt), at room temp
goat cheese glaze:
- 8 oz goat cheese, at room temp
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp thyme, finely minced & packed
- 3 small beets or 2 medium
- 1/2 cup water + 1/4 cup water
Make Beet PureE
I actually boiled my beets for about 20 minutes until cooked through and used a paper towel to remove the skin then cut into chunks and combined in a mini food processor with a little less than 1/2 cup water. But you can also…Heat oven to 400°F. Wash beets thoroughly, scrubbing to remove any dirt. Line a small baking dish with tin foil, place beets along with water in the dish. Cover tightly with additional foil and bake for one hour or until beets are completely tender when pierced. Using a paper towel and being careful to not burn yourself, wipe off the skin—it’ll come right off! Cut beets in to chunks. Place beets along with the left over beet water in the bottom of the pan and the additional 1/4 cup of water into a food processor or blender….However you get there the next step is to puree completely until absolutely no lumps remain. Press this puree through a sieve, setting aside any pulp that does not pass through for the croquetas and into a small sauce pan. Simmer the beet puree until reduced, about ten minutes. You should have a little over 1/4 cup by the end. Place reduced beet puree in a bowl and set aside to cool completely while you make your cake.
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease cake tin of your choice thoroughly with butter or organic cooking spray. If using traditional round tins, line bottom with parchment after greasing and then grease parchment.
In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and cocoa to combine thoroughly.
In the bowl of a stand mixer cream oil, butter, salt, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl at the half way mark. (I don’t have a mixer so I just used my good old fashioned muscles). With the mixer on low, add the vanilla and then add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Mix until smooth and thoroughly combined. Scrape down bowl again, and add in beet puree and vinegar. Mix to combine thoroughly on low, again scraping down the bowl as needed.
With the mixer on low, add in the flour and buttermilk (or yogurt) in three additions, alternating between the two, beginning with flour and ending on buttermilk and scraping down the bowl, making sure to scrape up the very bottom, as needed. Once just combined remove bowl from mixer and give it a stir gently with your spatula just to make sure it’s thoroughly mixed.
Fill cake tins no more than 1/2-3/4 the way full. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted in multiple places in the cake. Mine took about 30 minutes.
When done, remove cake from oven and allow to cool in tin on a rack for about 5-10 minutes. Turn cake out onto a plate and allow to cool fully before icing…or it will melt. If you only want a light glaze, you can put your icing on a warm cake, which is what I do. But if you want a thicker icing, definitely wait until totally cool!
While the cake cools…
make the glaze:
In a medium bowl whisk the powdered sugar and thyme into the goat cheese. It will turn into an icing consistency without any additional liquid added. Who knew it was that easy?