Cake of the Day: Beet Red Velvet Cake from ‘Root to Leaf’

Every day, Yahoo Food features delectable cakes. They taste good, they look good, and they’re made by good people — talented bakers from around the world. Today, chef Steven Satterfield shares a natural red velvet cake from his cookbook Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons.

Beet Red Velvet Cake that’s both light and tender, incredibly moist and not too sweet. (Photo: John Kernick)

Makes a 2-layer, 9-inch cake

I started tinkering with the idea of a classic red velvet cake using naturally red beets in the cake batter and fresh chèvre in the frosting, but when it comes to baking tests I am not the most patient. So I posed this challenge to Miller Union’s pastry chef, Pamela Moxley. She made several versions, in her scientific, pastry chef way, and discovered the best combination. Both light and tender, the cake is incredibly moist and not too sweet, with just the right amount of beet flavor. Not only is this version nutritionally superior to the sugary, artificially colored original, but it also tastes better. When beets are in season, we have this on the dessert menu, and it was even featured in The New York Times.

3 medium beets, tops and taproots removed
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
¾ cup buttermilk
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sifted cake flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
11/8 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1¾ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
Fresh Chèvre Frosting (see below)

Heat the oven to 400°F. Wash the beets and place on a sheet of parchment. Fold the parchment around the beets. Place the parchment on a sheet of aluminum foil and wrap the foil tightly around the parchment to make a packet. Bake until the tip of a knife slides easily into the largest beet. Cool until the beets can be handled, then peel.

Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment, and butter the parchment. Set aside.

Lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Place the beets in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Remove the beet mixture from the processor and measure out 1 cup. Reserve any remaining chopped beets for another use. Return the measured 1 cup beets to the food processor. Add the buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar, and vanilla, and process until smooth.

Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and bak¬ing soda. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the 12 tablespoons butter until soft. Slowly add the sugar, and beat until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. After each addition, stop the motor and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Alternate adding dry and wet ingredients to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. After each addition, beat for 10 seconds, and then scrape the bowl. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans, smoothing the tops. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in the pans on a wire rack.

To assemble, place a serving platter upside down on top of one of the pans. While holding the pan and the plate, invert the pan, allowing the cake to drop out onto the plate. Lift off the pan, and peel away the parchment.

Put 1 cup Fresh Chèvre Frosting on the center of the cake. Using a flat spatula, spread the frosting evenly over the top. Invert the second cake onto a plate, remove the parchment, then invert again onto a flat plate. Carefully ease the second cake, flat side down, centered on top of the frosted layer. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Serve immediately or store covered at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

Enough frosting for one 2-layer cake

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
Pinch salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces creamy goat cheese (chèvre), room temperature

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until soft. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar, salt, and vanilla, and continue beating until creamy. With the motor running on low, add pieces of the cream cheese one at a time. Stop the motor and scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running, add pieces of goat cheese, and beat until creamy. Store at room temperature until ready to frost the cake layers.

Reprinted with permission from Root to Leaf by Steven Satterfield

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