Red Velvet Cake with Crème Fraîche Icing

I have two younger brothers, Clint and Blaine. We’re all very close in age (Clint is about 20 months younger than me and Blaine was born less than three years after Clint) and were close growing up. We share a lot of the same friends from high school, and even though our lives are different now, we still occasionally run in similar social circles. Blaine lives in Denver; while we all wish he’d move back down to San Diego, he absolutely loves Colorado. Clint and his wife, Conni (the beautiful mind behind Art in the Find, a fashion & style blog), live here, in San Diego. Clint is truly a wonderful man. He adores his wife, puts his family as his number one priority and is an amazing uncle. I think Blaine and I would agree that we are so lucky to form the Clint Sandwich;). So, yesterday was Clint’s birthday and we celebrated exactly how he wanted to: surrounded by family (sans Blaine, but he was there in spirit) at an old school Chinese restaurant (Mandarin House in La Jolla). After dinner, we all went back to my mom and stepdad’s for cake.

I made the cake. Red Velvet Cake. You love it or you hate it. My brother loves it, my husband hates it. It’s not a cake for everyone. There is a very present beet flavor, and if you can’t get over that, it’s probably not for you. For example, some people just don’t like goat cheese. If you serve them five-cheese penne with goat cheese they’re just not going to like the penne because the goat cheese flavor is so present to them. It doesn’t mean the penne isn’t good, or that they’re wrong for not liking it…the dish just doesn’t work for them. Red velvet cake isn’t for everyone. This recipe is for those who love it. It is good, really good.

Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen – Through work, Clint had the opportunity to take batting practice at Petco yesterday; this was his walk-up song.

Red Velvet Cake with Crème Fraîche Icing adapted from Food & Wine, February 2014.

For the cake, you’ll need:

  • 1 pound medium red beets
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 10 eggs
  • 3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons light brown sugar


For the icing, you’ll need:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cups crème fraîche
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into tablespoons


Make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the beets in foil and bake until tender, about an hour. Let cool. Peel.


Cut the beets into chunks and cool completely. Puree in a food processor until completely smooth. Measure out 1 1/3 cups of the puree; reserve any remaining puree for another use (I used 1 1/3, next time I would use less, maybe just 1 cup).


Bring the milk and butter to just a boil.


Remove from heat and whisk in the beet puree.


In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the cocoa powder and salt.


Butter the bottoms and sides of two 9-inch cake pans, place parchment rounds on the bottom of each and butter the tops of the parchment.


Place the eggs, sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.


Set the bowl about 2 inches above a saucepan of simmering water and beat until smooth, warm and the sugars are dissolved, about 4 minutes.


Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg mixture, at high speed, until thickened and cooled, about 5 minutes.


Scrape into a large bowl.


Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture.


Fold until no streaks remain.


Fold one-third of the batter into the beet mixture, then gently fold the beet mixture back into the remaining batter in three additions.




Scrape batter into prepared cake pans.


Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Transfer the cake pans to a rack and cool completely.



Make the icing:

In the bowl of the stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in crème fraîche just until incorporated. Add the powdered sugar in two batches and beat at low speed just until blended. Beat in vanilla. At high speed, gradually add the cream cheese, by the tablespoon, until the icing is smooth.


Frost the cake:

Place one cake round on a serving surface. Spread about 1 cup of the icing on top of the layer. Cover the first layer with the second cake round and frost the top and sides of the entire cake with the remaining icing.


Refrigerate the cake for at least two hours before serving.

Extra decorating tip, chocolate sides:

Prepare a sheet of foil on a baking sheet and another sheet of foil on your work surface. Cut two 3×14-inch strips of wax or parchment paper and place on work surface foil. Melt about 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Spread melted chocolate evenly, in a thin layer, over parchment paper. Transfer parchment paper strips to baking sheet foil and chill for two minutes.


Carefully apply parchment paper strips to sides of cake and chill, with parchment paper still on, until just before serving.


Carefully remove parchment strips and serve cake.



A gorgeous Red Velvet Cake for your RV lover. It was a hit at Clint’s birthday!

With that, a very, very Happy Birthday to you, my dear brother. I hope your day was as wonderful as you!


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3 thoughts on “Red Velvet Cake with Crème Fraîche Icing

  1. Hey Shel! Hope you guys had fun celebrating Clint’s bday. Loved seeing the picture of all you guys on FB:). Quick question, where did you get those colorful measuring spoons you have pictured on your latest blog post? I luv them:)

    Cake looks yummy and love seeing all the new recipes!

    I’ve been thinking of you lately as my Dad is selling the house and I have been going through my room which has everything from high school and college in it still:). I’ve found some great pictures and letters from when we were in college. Isn’t it funny that we sent letters back then before everyone used email and the internet? It’s kind of refreshing. Anyway, we should definitely catch up soon; I have decided to stay home with Ashley and Ella which has been great and busy so far, so I have more time during the day to chat (kind of):). I’ll call you sometime next week.



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