Healthy Red Velvet Cake with Vanilla Frosting
This is definitely an exciting recipe for me to share. As embarrassing as it is, it took me nine trials to make a successful all-natural, healthy, nutritionally balanced Red Velvet Cake. I’ve done the research, I’ve done the measuring, I’ve done the thinking, and I’ve definitely done the taste testing (where do you think all those batches went?!). Thank goodness every trial was healthy, otherwise my hips would be hanging off the seat as I type this…
Anyways, making a healthy (and tasty) Red Velvet Cake took a lot more work than I thought. The batter has to be acidic, the cake has to be moist, it has to taste sweet sweet sweet, and lastly, it has to look red. Duh. But to meet my standards, the recipe also has to be good for you, which is quite the contrary to this classic Southern recipe. Here are the ingredients I had to swap:
- AP Flour, Cake Flour > Whole Grain Gluten-Free Flours
- Oil, Butter, Shortening > Beet Puree, Non-Hydrogenated Vegetable Shortening
- Artificial Food Coloring > Natural Food Coloring
- Eggs, Egg Yolks > Egg Whites
- Buttermilk > Unsweetened Almond Milk
- Sugar > All-Natural Erythritol
I based the recipe off my Citrus Pound Cake recipe, since that is the recipe my friends and family request me to make the most. The texture was great, but had no flavor whatsoever. The cake was red, but not burn-your-eyes-out red like the classic red velvet cakes. The frosting was too thin and wasn’t very sweet.
I improved some of the problems from Trial #1, but the cake tasted off. I tried coloring it without food coloring by using beet puree but it turned more like a faded fuchsia. There wasn’t enough cocoa and the cake was a little dry.
I changed routes and decided to make Red Velvet Brownies rather than cake. I based the recipe off my Lemony Peach Blondies, but it turned a Devil’s Food Cake color and tasted too much of chocolate to be a red velvet.
I fixed some of the problems from Trial #3 but the brownies still had that Devil’s Food Cake color. The brownies were extremely doughy, sticky and difficult to slice. It had a less noticeable chocolate flavor, but now it had no flavor.
This trial ended up being really doughy and sticky as well. It was slightly cakey and had a great taste but the flavor was simply not that of a red velvet. Unfortunately, it was an unappealing faded red-brown color. Ugly, but tasty!
This trial = DISASTER! I doubled the recipe and baked the batter in cake pans rather than brownie pans. The cake was soft, moist and delicious, yet a little on the dense side. I tried using a different brand of food coloring but it turned the cake a hideous greyish-brown color. While people liked the cake, no one really understood what the main flavor was. I told them it was supposed to be a red velvet but ended up looking like chocolate. Didn’t matter too much though, cake is cake. And it’s healthy? Okay, this cake is good cake!
I quit it with the red and made this Orange Velvet Pumpkin Layer Cake.
I did some more research on how to get a cake to turn red naturally. It’s a science, not something I could guess on. So when I sliced into this cake I thought I was going to see red. Oh I saw red, just not in the freaking cake. GAH! I wanted to cry and throw my stand mixer out the window smush the cake with my hands. I carved myself a slice and angrily shoved it in my face. Oh. My. Gosh… it was delicious. It was a bit dense, like the previous trial, but so damn good.
Trial #9: (Finally, success!)
Before I even turned on the oven, I expected a baking failure that day. I mean, I was let down 8 times already, my confidence in baking truncated with each failed trial… I expected less than post-worthy results that day. To my surprise, though, things were looking up! The batter was a bright fuchsia and turned more and more red as the cakes baked in the oven. Good things do happen when you least expect them to. I sliced the cake and my heart skipped a beat, I almost fainted.
FINALLY. It was RED! (Thank you baking gods)
I was so excited to take a bite that I ate a slice right off the cake stand.
This cake is absolutely delicious. It’s sweet, it’s fluffy, it’s moist, it’s red. Naturally red. It’s nutritious, free of sugar, butter and all things artificial and manmade. If you gave this to me when I was ten years old (you know, when I ate three Hershey bars a day and ate Pillsbury frosting out of the tub?), I would have eaten this without any complaints. I would have eaten this with my hands (because who needs a fork?) in about 2 minutes flat.
Oh wait, that’s what I did as a twenty year old…