I got all excited when I saw beet powder at Kalustyan’s. My mind was buzzing, I was doing cartwheels (in my imagination)… I was going to make a red velvet cake I could eat (I’m allergic to artificial food coloring). Yipee!

Uh no, with some quick research, I found this article, here’s an exert:

“Food purists seeking to replicate the color, flavor and cooking method of a traditional red velvet cake by merely substituting natural food coloring for artificial colors will run into a series of obstacles. These occur because natural food dyes and pigments, like the pigment in beet powder, are sensitive to both heat and pH and change color when combined with baking soda or baking powder.”

Bummer…Mega Bummer!

Happy Birthday Sophia

Rest assured, we will look into this some more, but this time, we needed a cake that day, so we pulled out a recipe Lon has used before from Cakeman Raven.  He is renowned for his authentic, Southern Red Velvet Cake.  The distinguishing factor is that his cake actually tastes like red velvet — that is it has strong accents from the vinegar and buttermilk.  Red Velvet shouldn’t just be coloured red, it should taste a certain way.

This was a perfect choice for Sophia’s birthday, she really wanted cream cheese frosting, and this has A LOT of it.

Southern Red Velvet Cake
Recipe adapted from Cakeman Raven, Cakeman Raven Confectionery, NYC
~makes 9-inch, three-tier cake.  8-12 Servings.


  • 2.5 cups All Purpose Flour + Extra for Pans
  • 1.5 cups Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Table Salt
  • 1 tsp. Cocoa Powder
  • 1.5 cups Vegetable Oil + Extra for Pans
  • 1 cup Buttermilk (room temperature)
  • 2 Eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 tbsp. Red Food Coloring (1 oz.)
  • 1 tsp. White Distilled Vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows
  • 1/2 cup Dark Chocolate Shavings

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 (9″ by 1.5-inch round) cake pans; line bottom of pans with parchment.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a stand mixer, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla until color is consistent.

3. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.

That is RED Batter!

4. Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.

Three Tiers 2

5. Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.

Frosting Second Tier

6. Frost the cake. Place one layer, rounded-side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand. Using a palette knife or offset spatula spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. (Spread enough frosting to make a 1/4 to 1/2-inch layer.) Carefully set another layer on top, rounded-side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Leaning the cake on its side, apply chocolate shavings to the edges.

Dark Chocolate Shavings on Side

Cream Cheese Frosting
makes enough to frost a 3 layer (9-inch) cake


  • 1 lb. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 lb.Unsalted Butter (1 cup / 2 sticks), softened
  • 4 cups Sifted Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract


1. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about five minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)

2. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally). Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for three days.

posted by jessica at 11:03 AM Filed under Desserts, Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.