This is a red velvet cake made in a WW2 era way, using beets for moisture and color. The trick to getting good color rather than mud is to keep the batter acidic: lemon and buttermilk and a complete lack of alkaline leavening are what make this recipe unusual.
Boil two medium beets and puree. (You need one cup)
Cream two sticks of butter with a cup of sugar. Beat in two eggs as completely as you can.
Mix two tablespoons of lemon juice with 3/4 cup buttermilk. Add a cup of the beet puree.
In a bowl, mix a cup of flour and a quarter cup of natural (non-Dutch process) cocoa powder. (I used Hershey’s).
Beat the three mixtures together, adding some of the butter, egg and sugar mixture alternating with some of the beet and buttermilk mixture.
Pour into greased cupcake pans and bake at 350 until a toothpick or straw comes out clean.
This will be a soft, moist cake, almost custard. It released from the pan easily for me, though my cupcake pans are cast iron and a little unusual.
I used most of my batter as a layer under a cheesecake, but that’s a story for another time.