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Red Velvet Beet Cake with Crème Fraîche Icing

Instead of red food coloring, this excellent cake features a beet puree, which keeps the layers nicely moist. The cake is topped with a wonderfully sweet-tangy creme fraiche frosting.

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 12 to 16

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  • 1 pound medium beets
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 10 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cups crème fraîche
  • 2 pounds confectioners’ sugar (8 cups), sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into tablespoons


  1. Make the cake Preheat the oven to 350º. Wrap the beets in foil and bake for about 1 hour, until tender. Let cool slightly.
  2. Make the cake Peel the roasted beets and cut them into chunks. Transfer to a food processor and let cool completely. Puree until smooth. Measure out 1 1/3 cups of the puree; reserve any remaining beet puree for another use.
  3. Make the cake In a medium saucepan, bring the milk just to a boil with the butter. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the 1 1/3 cups of beet puree. In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the cocoa powder and salt.
  4. Make the cake Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, allowing 1 inch of overhang on the two long sides. Add the eggs and the granulated and brown sugars to the bowl of a stand mixer. Set the bowl 2 inches above a saucepan of simmering water and beat until smooth and the sugars dissolve and the mixture is slightly warmed, about 4 minutes.
  5. Make the cake Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk. Beat the warm egg mixture at high speed until thickened and cooled, about 5 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the dry ingredients just until no streaks remain. Fold one-third of the batter into the beet milk, then gently fold the beet mixture into the batter in three additions.
  6. Make the cake Scrape the batter onto the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack to cool completely.
  7. Make the cake Meanwhile, make the icing In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the crème fraîche just until incorporated. Add the confectioners’ sugar in two batches and beat at low speed just until blended. Beat in the vanilla. With the machine at high speed, gradually add the cream cheese by tablespoons until the icing is smooth.
  8. Make the cake Using the parchment, slide the cooled cake onto a work surface. Trim the cake edges to make them neat, then cut the cake crosswise into three even rectangles. Transfer one layer to a rectangular cake cardboard or cake plate. Spread about 1 cup of the icing evenly on top, then cover with another layer of the cake and frost with 1 cup more of icing. Set the last cake layer on top and frost the top and sides with the remaining icing. Refrigerate the cake until well chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight. Let the cake stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

Make Ahead

The cake can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Contributed By Photo © Chris Testani Published February 2014

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