Natural Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

C’mon,…if you have ever made a red velvet cake from scratch and seen how much red dye is in there, you know it’s a little frightening. But it tastes oh so good! I have done a little research about Red Velvet Cake’s history, why it’s red and to see if all the red dye is necessary; sadly, it is (due to our modern baking products).

But a few times I have come across recipes that use beets as a substitute for all that red dye. I was so curious about this method that I really couldn’t wait for an opportunity to try it out. Wouldn’t you know, my friend JUST had a baby and her favorite cake is red velvet. She eats a mostly plant-based diet, so I knew she wouldn’t mind being my guinea pig in an effort to rid her of Red Dye #40. Thanks Ashley!

Just beet it

Just beet it

So here you go; my science experiment for an all-natural Red Velvet Cake! (And several notes about this recipe are at the bottom.)

1 can fancy beets in juices, pureed
1 Cup coconut cream
1/3 Cup coconut oil (melted)
1 & 1/4 Cup granulated sugar
1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 & 1/4 Cup AP flour (unbleached)
1/4 tsp salt
2 & 1/2 Tbsp Natural Cocoa Powder (NOT Dutch Processed)
1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder


1)Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit; grease 2, 9″-round cake pans. **I use Baker’s Joy. It is a non-stick spray with flour in it and it seems to do an even better job than greasing and flouring the pans separately.

2) Puree beets IN their juices and combine with coconut oil (melted), sugar, vanilla and coconut milk until well incorporated. Set aside.

3) In a bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder.

4) Alternately whisk wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well incorporated.

5) Pour batter evenly into pans. I like to tap mine on the counter one time before I place them in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes (test for doneness). Allow to cool and frost!

While the traditional frosting for a Red Velvet cake is a roux-based, cooked variety called “Ermine Frosting”, my friend prefers Cream Cheese Frosting. So here is the Cream Cheese Frosting and a link to the Ermine.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 brick of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 & 1/2 Cups confectioners sugar

1) Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth

2) Stir in confectioners sugar, then beat on high for 2 minutes. Add vanilla and stir again until well incorporated.

3) Frost and enjoy!



Notes on this cake:

  • Q: Does the cake taste like beets?
  • A: There is definitely a beet taste in this cake. It is NOT overpowering and some will completely miss it, never taking notice. Some will swear they can really taste it. I personally think that the earthy-ness of the beets combined with the cocoa make the cake simply lovely and balanced. The coconut milk and the coconut oil do help to curb that beetiness as well. I would say think of the exchange much like you would if you utilized applesauce in place of eggs in another recipe. The flavor is there but not overpoweringly so. Also, the original recipe had a tartness to it due to the buttermilk. I personally felt that I could taste a tang and I like that. Again, not overpowering, but just right.
  • Q: Is this cake really red?
  • A: No, it is not going to be that big bottle of fake red dye crimson red. You can see from my pictures what the coloring is like-sort of a rusty, iron-oxide color. That should be what your cake looks like. A lovely pinkish-brown. If you mess with the ingredients or their amounts, you may very likely get different coloring.
  • Q:There are no eggs in this cake?
  • A: Correct, there are no eggs in this cake. The coconut oil and the baking powder give the cake a lovely amount of lift. See photos.
  • Q: Does the cake taste like coconut?
  • A: No