Treat them to something special this Valentines Day; bake them this heavenly cake!
I love a classic red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, but it’s not exactly a healthy option! This recipe re-creates the same vanilla-cocoa flavour, but in a vegan version that includes all the goodness of beetroot, extra fibre from the wholegrain flours and flaxseeds, plus a lower sugar content. The frosting is a little more work than a standard recipe, but avoids having to turn to margarine or ‘fake’ cream cheese.
DF | VG
Makes a 20cm (8in) cake to serve 10–12
For the cake:
- 2 medium beetroots, cut into large chunks
- 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 90g (3fl oz/6 tbsp) rapeseed (canola) oil, plus extra for greasing
- 300g (10fl oz/1¼ cups) vegan yoghurt, such as soya or coconut
- 400g (14oz/2 cups) rapadura or light muscovado (soft brown) sugar
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp vanilla paste, or seeds from 2 vanilla pods (beans)
- 30g (1oz/¹⁄³ cup) cocoa powder
- 260g (9¼oz/2 cups) wholemeal (wholewheat) spelt flour
- 80g (3oz/²⁄³ cup) buckwheat flour
- 60g (2¼oz/²⁄³ cup) ground almonds
- 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- Candied Beetroot Hearts (see page bottom of page), to decorate
For the vanilla coconut frosting:
- 300g (10½oz/1¼ cups) creamed coconut
- 180g (6½oz/1 cup) coconut oil
- 300g (10½oz/1¼ cup) coconut cream
- 30g (1fl oz/2 tbsp) lemon juice
- 1 tbsp vanilla paste or seeds of
- 1 vanilla pod (bean)
- 480g (17oz/3½ cups) golden icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted
For the cake
- Either steam the beetroot or microwave with 2 tablespoons of water for 10 minutes, or until just tender. Cool, then purée it all (including the water, if using) until smooth.
- Weigh out 200g/7oz purée.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/fan 160°C/350°F.
- Grease the base and sides of two 5 x 20-cm (2 x 8-in) cake tins with a little rapeseed (canola) oil and line the bases with a circle of baking parchment.
- Mix the flaxseed with 6 tablespoons of warm water and leave for 10 minutes.
- Using a balloon whisk, blend the flaxseed with the beetroot purée, the rapeseed oil, yoghurt, rapadura, salt, vanilla and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl until completely smooth.
- Sift together the flours and ground almonds, then mix into the liquid ingredients with the balloon whisk until smooth.
- In a small bowl, add the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) to the vinegar and stir with a teaspoon.
- Add the foaming mix straight into the cake batter and gently fold together with the whisk. Take care not to overmix, or the batter will become tough.
- Scrape the cake batter evenly between the tins and bake for 35–45 minutes, or until the tops spring back when gently pressed and an inserted cocktail stick comes out clean.
- Cool the cakes, still in their tins, until just warm, then de-mould and cool on a wire rack until cold.
- Chill until ready to trim and frost.
For the frosting:
- Soften the creamed coconut either for a minute or two in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, until it is a thick but stirrable consistency, then process in a blender until smooth.
- Add the coconut oil and process again.
- Scrape into a bowl and stir with a balloon whisk every few minutes until the mixture has cooled slightly and thickened, but not hardened.
- Add the coconut cream, lemon juice and vanilla and stir until smooth.
- Add the icing (confectioners’) sugar and beat with a hand-held electric whisk for 2–3 minutes until smooth.
- If the mixture feels too soft to spread onto the cake, chill for 30 minutes and re-beat.
To assemble the cake:
- Trim the tops of the sponges level, then slice each sponge in half, so you have 4 layers in total.
- Place one of the sponges, crust side down, on a serving plate and spread with a layer of the frosting.
- Top with the next layer of sponge and spread with more frosting.
- Repeat until you reach the final layer, placing it crust side up, and spread with a thin layer of frosting on the top and on the sides.
- Chill for 30 minutes or longer to set.
- Spread some clean, crumb-free frosting on top of the cake and spread out, then spread more frosting around the sides, scraping off the excess to give a clean finish.
- Chill again for about 30 minutes to firm, then decorate the sides with Candied Beetroot Hearts, wiping off any excess syrup and sticking directly onto the frosting.
- The top can also be decorated with piped swirls of leftover frosting and dried beetroot hearts.
Candied Beetroot Slices or Hearts
- 2 small beetroots
- 120g (4¼oz/²⁄³ cup minus 2 tsp) unrefined (golden) cane sugar
- Use a sharp knife to cut very thin rounds, about 1mm (¹⁄³²in) horizontally through the beetroots.
- Heat together the sugar and 75g (2½oz/5 tbsp) water in a small pan until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to the boil.
- Place the beetroot directly into the hot syrup, cover and cook gently for 5 minutes until the beetroot is just tender and translucent.
- Remove from the heat and steep in the syrup overnight at room temperature.
- Chill the candied slices in the syrup for up to a week and drain from the syrup before decorating the cakes.
- For heart shapes, use a small heart cutter to cut shapes from the centre of the beetroot rounds.
- For crisp beetroot hearts, used on the top of the Beetroot Red Velvet Cake, drain the pieces from the syrup and lay on top of baking parchment over a wire rack.
- Dry for 1½ hours in a low oven (100°C/fan 80°C/210°F), turning halfway, until dried through.
Nourish Cakes by Marianne Stewart (Quadrille, £15) Photography © Catherine Frawley