Red Velvet Cake

Gluten free, vegan, dairy free

I always loved the idea of a red velvet cake and actively sought it out when I was in the U.S. last year. I think I was particularly enthralled by the red velvet cake in the film Steel Magnolias, shaped and decorated as an armadillo which looked rather unfortunate when cut open with the blood red coloured cake innards spilling out. Maybe I was unlucky, but all the red velvet cakes I saw in the U.S. last year looked really dull by comparison to that armadillo shaped red velvet cake.

‘Cake’ and ‘raw food’ are not generally words that go hand in hand but I maintain it is possible to make many raw versions of cooked classics. This red velvet cake is light and has a sponge like consistency. It contains beetroot pulp and juice for the fabulous red hue and has a few extra vegetables in the form of apple and courgettes for good measure. About two fresh beetroots, the size of tennis balls, should yield enough pulp for the cake. I pulp mine by running it through a masticating juicer (I have a Samson) to collect the pulp and the juice separately.

The icing combines cashew nuts with young Thai coconut meat which helps provide a lightness and dairy like consistency. Young Thai coconuts are not the same as the brown coconuts that you find in supermarkets or at the coconut shy at fun fairs. Thai coconuts, are also called jelly nuts, and have a beautiful creamy flesh on the inside (and the coconut water is very good for you too as it is full of electrolytes.)

If you cannot get hold of Thai coconuts, then you can use 125 ml of coconut yoghurt instead (such as Coyo) or you can increase the amount of cashews to 220g (1 ½ cups cashews), soaked and rinsed. This will provide a slightly heavier cream but it will still be delicious.

This is a serious note: there are several ways to open a Young Thai Coconut and there are instructional films on YouTube about it - however you choose to do it, the key word is ‘carefully’. You can buy them already trimmed of the husk and then use a drill and chisel to open them and scoop out the flesh or if you choose to take the top off with a cleaver as some do, please make sure that the hand that is not holding the cleaver is behind your back out of harm’s way.

If you make it, do send me a photo. If you make it in the shape of an armadillo and send me a photo, I will send you a gift. In whatever measurements you make it, whether armadillo shaped or not, I hope that you enjoy it.

This cake mixture makes enough to fill a 6 inch square cake tin and serves 12.

Red Velvet Cake



220g (1 ½ cups) cashews, dry

110g (3/4 cup) coconut flour

50g (½ cup + 1 tbsp) ground linseeds

85g (¾ cup) cacao powder or good quality cocoa powder

230g raw beetroot to yield 90g (1/2 cup) of beetroot pulp

1½ tbsp beetroot juice

1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped

170g (¾ cup or ¾ of an average sized courgette), peeled and diced

1 ½ tbsp vanilla extract

6 tbsp maple syrup

6 tbsp agave

1 Medjool date, stone removed

Buttercream icing

140g (1 cup cashews), soaked for two hours &

125g (½ cup) Thai coconut meat*

80ml (1/3 cup) agave syrup

80ml (1/3 cup) almond milk

1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 inches vanilla bean, seeds only

½ tbsp lemon juice

155 ml (½ cup and 2 tbsp) organic coconut oil

To fill

200g (1 cup) fresh berries

To decorate

2 tbsp freeze dried cherries, crumbled


To make the cake

  1. In a food processor, grind the cashew nuts to form a fine flour. Combine in a mixing bowl with the coconut flour, ground linseeds and cocoa powder.

  2. Run the beetroot through a juicer and collect the pulp and juice separately.

  3. In a blender, whizz the remaining cake ingredients together until smooth.

  4. Pour the wet mix over the dry ingredients and combine thoroughly to form a dough. It should be sponge like dough rather than bread dough.

  5. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of beetroot juice for extra moisture depending on the mix and moisture content of the beetroot pulp. If you need to add more, do so one tablespoon at a time.

To make the buttercream

  1. Rinse the soaked cashew nuts under cold running water.

  2. Gently melt the coconut oil in a bain marie over barely simmering water.

  3. In a blender, whizz all the buttercream icing ingredients until smooth. Chill until required.

To construct the cake

  1. To do this successfully, each layer needs to be frozen solid before adding the next layer.

  2. Press half of the cake mixture into the bottom of a 6 inch cake tin lined with baking parchment. (I use ones with the loose bottoms). Place the cake layer in the tin in the freezer to chill and wrap the rest of the cake mixture in cling film and keep in the fridge until needed.

  3. When the first cake layer is chilled firm, spread half the buttercream over. Press the raspberries into the buttercream and return the whole thing to the freezer to set until solid. This could take between half an hour and two hours depending on the temperature of your freezer. When the buttercream filling has set, press the remaining sponge cake mix on top to form the final layer.

  4. Return the whole thing to the freezer to set so the cake is solid. Letting it freeze until really firm makes the cake easier to coax from the tin.

  5. When you are convinced it is set firm, release the cake. Trim the edges if required to create a sharp even square with flat edges.

  6. Smother the cake with the remaining buttercream and sprinkle with your decoration of choice. I used crumbled freeze dried cherries but you could also use grated chocolate or a mixture of fresh berries.

  7. This will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge or for up to 3 weeks in the freezer.

Constructing red velvet cake

Constructing red velvet cake

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