When you think of red velvet cake, crimson slices slathered with cream cheese frosting typically come to mind. But did you ever envision beet juice? According to pastry chef Emily Lael Aumiller of cult-favorite gluten-free bakery Lael Cakes in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, the dark red vegetable is the key to achieving the perfect amount of color and moisture in the beloved dessert. In her newly released cookbook, Pure Artistry ($22; amazon.com), she even does one better and suggests adding red food coloring to make the color really pop. Get her recipe below. It tastes so good, you’d never know it was gluten-free!
Classic Red Velvet Cake
Makes: 4 6-inch cake layers
1 tbsp golden flaxseed meal ($4/16 oz.; bobsredmill.com)
3 tbsp warm water
1 ¾ cup gluten-free flour
1 cup cane evaporated cane juice ($6/28 oz.; jet.com)
¼ cup cocoa powder
2 tbsp beet powder ($7/16 oz.; nuts.com)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp arrowroot ($4/16 oz.; thrive.com)
½ tsp fine sea salt
1 ½ beet juice
¾ cup safflower oil
3 tbsp all-natural red food coloring
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (or ½ tbsp organic vanilla extract or seeds of 1 vanilla bean)
½ tsp white rice vinegar
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
2. Grease four 6-inch round cake pans by spreading non-hydrogenated palm shortening with a pastry brush or spraying with coconut cooking spray. Trace and cut out four 4-inch circles of parchment paper and place on the bottom of each greased pan.
Note: Since vegan and gluten-free cakes tend to be more delicate in texture than regular cakes, instead of cutting them into layers after they’re baked, it’s better to bake layers individually. Separate cake batter into multiple pans, filling each one-quarter to half full so you generally only need to trim the tops to level the cakes before layering with icing.
3. In a small bowl, combine the flaxseed meal and warm water. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until incorporated.
5. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Add the flaxseed meal mixture.
6. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on medium-high until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth, about 2 minutes.
7. Divide the batter among the cake pans and smooth the tops with a flat spatula or spoon.
8. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in one of the cakes comes out clean. If there is still batter on toothpick, continue to bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. (Baking times will vary depending on your oven and the thickness and size of the cake layers.)
9. Let the cakes cool completely in the pans. Cover the pans tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. This will ensure the cakes set up properly and be much easier to work with.