Long before red food coloring, beets were the magic ingredient. Ammen just celebrated a birthday, and we have an abundance of beets in the garden this year. Naturally his birthday cake was a red velvet cake dyed with beets.
The beets combined with the applesauce provide a sweet yet earthy flavor and a moist texture. I frosted these cakes with a honey cream cheese icing because my husband will eat nothing else, but I personally think the icing was a bit strong for such simple cake. If I make this recipe again for a different occasion I would do a simple honey butter icing or just serve the naked cake.
As you can see, the batter of this cake is a brilliant magenta color. After baking, the cake gradually turns to more of a brick red. Unfortunately, I was too excited to eat the cake and didn't take a picture until most of the cake and color was gone. The dyes faded more and more as the evening went on. If you want to have the most red possible, bake this cake as close to the serving time as you can. Luckily, the flavor and texture never faded.
Red Velvet Cake (With Beets)
Whenever possible, it's always best to purchase organic ingredients. This is especially important when purchasing dairy products and eggs.
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp sea salt
Place beets in a pot and cover with water, boil until soft (about 30 minutes), allow them to cool. Peel the beets and chopped coarsely. Combine chopped cooked beets and applesauce in a blender and blend until smooth.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round layer pans.
In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla, and then the beet mixture, mixing well. Add the lemon juice and the yogurt and mix well again.
In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa powder, baking soda, flour, and salt together. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until well blended.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing from pans and allowing to cool completely. Once the cakes are cool, frost them.
Honey Cream Cheese Icing
2 pkgs of cream cheese (8oz pkg)
1/4 cup local honey
1 Tbsp vanilla
Blend until smooth. When the cakes are cool, spread with a rubber spatula on one cake. Stack the cakes, and spread icing on the top.
For the nutrition information on beets check out the post on Rosemary Red Soup.
Rest assured that cocoa does indeed have nutritional benefits. As you can tell intuitively, chocolate is a natural anti-depressant, it's also very high in antioxidants and magnesium. Antioxidants help fight free-radicals in our body, ultimately preventing inflammation and disease states (such as cancer). Magnesium has a blood pressure lowering affect and is vital for our digestive, cardiovascular, and neurological systems. If you really want your fill on all the benefits of chocolate, you might enjoy the Theo Chocolate Tour. There you'll get to taste all the chocolate you can dream of, and learn about this treasured food.
I chose to use half spelt flour in the recipe rather than all-purpose wheat or even whole wheat. Spelt is a grain that does have gluten, making it easy to bake with, but is more easily digestible than its typically overeaten relative, wheat. Spelt is an ancient grain, and is thought to be an ancestor grain before wheat was hybridized. Its is a great source of Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and Vitamin B3 (niacin) and manganese as well as insoluble fiber.