Red Velvet Cake for Summer
Red Velvet Cake with Tender Watermarked

Hello All: My dear cousin Victor and his bride Pily served Red Velvet Cake at the joyful celebration of their wedding a couple of weeks ago. This rich and moist cake was the cap to an amazing meal and a welcome alternative to traditional wedding cake. I liked it so much, I decided I need to learn a little more about the history of this confection. There are many variations on this dessert and many people who take credit for its creation―a sure indicator of a beloved treat. Some say it began its popularity in the US during WWII, when food was being rationed and bakers used beets to enhance the color of their baked items. In New York, it was served at the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel with a buttercream frosting. Southerners in the US claimed it as their own with a cream cheese frosting, while in Canada it was considered to be an invention of Eaton’s Department Store during the 1940’s.

My variation calls for farm fresh ruby-red beets and dark German chocolate. I forgo a rich frosting to serve it with Greek-style yogurt and summer fruit.  Based on recipe originally published by Nigel Slater in Tender, Mr Slater describes it as “a seductive cake, deeply moist and tempting.” I couldn’t agree more.

Try it soon. Make this cake a part of your end-of-summer celebrations.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.



Yield: One 8-inch Cake, About 8 Servings

Ingredients & Equipment:

8-inch spring-form pan, lightly buttered and wrapped with foil

  • 8 ounces fresh beets
  • 7 ounces dark chocolate, preferably German, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons brewed, rich coffee or espresso
  • 3/4 cup butter plus 2 tablespoons, cut into large dice
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar


  1. Rinse beets of any excess dirt and trim off roots, as needed. Cook, unpeeled, in boiling water until tender enough to pierce easily with a sharp knife. (Cooking time will vary according to the size and freshness of the beets. They should take somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes.) Drain and run cold water over the beets until they are cool enough to handle. Peel, cut into large chunks, then purée in a food processor or blender. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Place the chocolate, coffee or espresso, and butter in a large microwave safe bowl or cup. Cover with plastic film and place in microwave. Cook on high to melt the chocolate, about one minute. Remove the plastic wrap, whisk, and set aside.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder.
  5. Separate the eggs.
  6. Place the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl. Beat them gently to loosen, then gradually beat in the chocolate butter mixture. Beat until fully combined. Mix in the puréed beets.
  7. Place the egg whites in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until they begin to form stiff peaks. Add the sugar. Whisk again.
  8. Fold the egg whites gently into the chocolate/egg/beet mixture. Sift in the flour/cocoa powder mixture. Whisk just to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking pan..
  9. Bake 45 minutes, until the rim is spongy and the center a little wobbly.
  10. Cool completely in the pan.
  11. Serve garnished with créme fraȋche or Greek yogurt and fresh seasonal fruit.
  12. Enjoy.

Notes: This recipe was closely adapted from a recipe published in Tender by Nigel Slater. His title is: Chocolate-Beet Cake. He suggests serving it with créme fraîche and poppy seeds. 


Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.