Thursday, October 23, 2008

Red Velvet Cake (Gluten Free)

A few weeks ago my co-worker Jennifer (whom you can thank for that lovely new blog header) was telling me about a brownie that her husband brought home. He picked up the brownie at a bakery near his work and it was called a "Red Velvet Brownie." The brownie itself was chocolate, but it was laced with red velvet cake squares swirled throughout the batter and topped with cream cheese icing. I was drooling.

Jennifer and I searched and searched for a recipe that might be similar to this brownie. We gave up. I couldn't find one that mimicked the brownie she had.

Last year I made mini-red velvet cupcakes for Valentine's Day. I thought these cupcakes were good, yet I hated using all of the food coloring required for the recipe. I decided to look for different red velvet options!

I finally read several recipes that gave a possible alternative to food coloring. These recipes stated that *originally* red wine vinegar or red beet juice was added to the standard buttermilk , cocoa, and baking soda recipe and a chemical reaction occurred during baking which gave the cake a reddish hue. Not food coloring red... just a reddish overtone.

That was good enough for me.

I converted the recipe to be gluten free, lower fat, and lower sugar and gave it a try.

It was worth the try. I LOVE this cake. It's light, yet decadent. Stays moist and fluffy, and has every bit of that delicious red velvet flavor of it's "food-coloring laden" predecessors.

I will post better pictures of this cake this weekend because I'm going to make it again for a dinner we are having.

I've included a halved recipe in the printable PDF in case you would only like to make one layer, as I did originally. It makes a lovely single layer cake. I think this would be perfect for tea parties!

Gluten Free. Food-Coloring Free. Soy Free. Lower fat. Lower sugar. Red Velvet Cake.

I do recommend using a high quality cocoa powder that is NOT dutch processed for this cake.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup melted butter -or- canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder (NOT dutch processed)
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar -OR- 2 tablespoons red beet juice

Dry Ingredients
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour -or- sweet rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans. (I lined my pan with parchment paper and then spritzed it with non-stick cooking spray.) Mix melted butter with applesauce, water, and cocoa powder. Set aside. In a medium sized bowl or your mixer, beat eggs. Add vanilla, buttermilk, baking soda, red wine vinegar -or- beet juice. Add butter/cocoa mixture to egg mixture. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl whisk together all dry ingredients. Fold the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Batter will be thin and a very light brown. Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let cakes cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Icing
from, submitted by Janni

Whole Recipe
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 Recipe (I used this to frost a single layer red velvet cake)
4 oz. cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium sized bowl mix together cream cheese and butter, until smooth and creamy. Mix in vanilla and gradually add confectioners' sugar. Frost as desired on cake and store leftovers in fridge.

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  1. Looks great, Carrie!! :)

    Love the new blog header.


  2. I'm so glad you didn't use red food coloring, Carrie! I never thought of using red wine vinegar or beet juice - good for you! Red food coloring makes me ill. Glad to see this recipe! Therese

  3. Thanks Terese! I always enjoy seeing your comments! I hope you'll try this!

    Thanks for stopping by Kim!! Thanks for the compliment on the header! I'm so grateful for friends who are better at designing than I am! ;-)

  4. my pre-GF days, baking a red velvet cake from scratch was my biggest accomplishment (i was a pretty new baker). I always kinda figured it was un-recreatable, so thanks!!!

    and very interesting about the cake's history. you've given me a lot to think about while I drool over your pictures ; )

  5. This is so yummy sounding! I can't wait to bake this up. Thank you!

    I use juice and pulverized freeze dried fruits and veggies to color frostings and cakes, too. It really works nicely without all the chemicals. Great post!

  6. The cake looks delicious. I'm with you on the food coloring. I never thought red cake was real appetizing anyway. I'll try the recipe soon.

    BTW, I like the new header, and thanks for stopping by my blog.

  7. Yummy! You've hit upon my favorite cake of all time. I'll have to try this GF version of red velvet; I'm getting frustrated with my old standby.

    There's definitely an art to making this classic, (I've written about some of the secrets at ), but it is well worth the effort.

  8. Old-style non-dutch cocoa turns reddish in the presence of acids. But not bright red like we are used to in this cake but a dark red.

    I'm supposing that people started adding food coloring when they switched to dutch cocoa to get the red look back.

    So if you can find non-dutch cocoa you won't need the food coloring.

  9. this looks great can't wait to try it. If you use half the recipe what size cake pan do you use and do you need to alter the baking time? It looks like you used a rectangular cake pan.

    Thanks for all you do

  10. Hi Mary! No, you wouldn't need to alter the baking time! Just use one 9" cake pan (square or round), or make 12 cupcakes! :-) I hope this helps!!

  11. This looks like a great recipe but I can't have Cornstarch. Is there a substitute I can use?
    Thank you!

  12. Jules - you can use additional tapioca starch, potato starch, or arrowroot starch!