I did a quick search on Pinterest and found a recipe for red velvet cake that uses red beets instead of red dye. As you can see the cake is not a bright red, but I can testify that this red velvet cake is far superior to a store bought bright red, red velvet cake.
Here's the recipe from cakebakery.com and they reference another site. This recipe has been passed around!
Red Velvet With Beets
(yields one 9″ round layer)¾ c. pureed beets
¼ c. milk
1 tsp. plain yogurt
½ tsp. balsamic vinegar
¾ c. flour
⅔ c. sugar (or Splenda)
½ c. dutch cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
*I added 1/4 cup of lemon juice to bring out the red color. It did work and the cake did not have a lemon flavor.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients and set aside. Blend the wet ingredients until uniform.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until combined.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the center comes out clean. (mine took closer to 25 min in a 9″ round). Cool before icing.
Cream Cheese Frosting3 blocks cream cheese (8 oz each)
2 sticks unsalted butter
¼ tsp. salt
16 oz confectioners sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste!)
Cream together the cream cheese and butter at room temperature. Add the salt and sugar and whip until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla. Frost your cooled cake and sprinkle sides with chopped pecans for garnish if desired.