I’ve been thinking about baking a beetroot cake for a while now, since I saw the idea somewhere online – I can’t actually remember where exactly I saw it, but the picture looked good and I didn’t hang around long enough to look at the recipe in detail as I think I was looking for something else at the time. We’ve had beetroot a few times in the veg box, but as it’s usually just the right amount of veg for a week of meals, I haven’t felt like using some of it in a cake. However, since I was ill last week and didn’t eat anything for a couple of days and then moved on to a plain toast diet for a couple more, we had a bit of a glut of veg, including some beetroot, so I seized this opportunity now that I’m feeling better to have a go at what I’d wanted to do for a while.
From my googling, I figured out that there were 2 ways in which people recommend using beetroot in cake: 1) similarly to carrot, by grating it raw and baking it in a fairly light sponge; or 2) pureeing it when cooked and adding it to chocolate cake to make a very moist and dense sponge. I thought the second option looked the most yummy, so I went for that. The recipe I came up with is loosely based on Nigel Slater’s recipe which I found on the BBC Food website.
I wasn’t too sure what to expect from the finished cake, though I’d seen it written online that this kind of beetroot cake doesn’t have much, if any, traces of beetroot taste, rather it’s a fudgey chocolate cake in taste but the beetroot gives it a lot of moistness. And now that I’ve made one myself, I concur with this description – it is incredibly moist and dense without being greasy like some fudge cakes. If I didn’t know it had beetroot in, I wouldn’t have guessed that it does, though the slight red tinge in the right light gives it away a little.
You could try and argue that this is a good way to get kids (or adults) to eat some veg, but I’m not sure whether the almost equal quantity of chocolate to beetroot really makes it that ‘healthy’ (‘everything in moderation’ is my approach to a balanced diet). I personally love beetroot simply roasted in some olive oil, though I can’t sand it pickled in vinegar (*shuddering at the thought*). Andrew has been known to eat it and refuse it, and in general we can’t complain at how much fruit and veg he eats, so I’m not about to give him this cake just because I think he needs a veg top up…. he can have a slither as a treat anyway.
Here’s the recipe. It’s not the simplest cake I’ve ever made, with quite a few stages and techniques, so make sure you give yourself enough time if you have a go yourself.
- 200g margarine
- 300g raw beetroot
- 250g dark chocolate
- 4 tbsp milk
- 150g plain flour
- 5 eggs, separated
- 225g golden caster sugar
- 60g margarine
- 120g icing sugar
- few drops vanilla essence
- Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC (fan). Grease 2 medium cake tins (I have silicone moulds so I didn’t grease).
- Cut the beetroot into small chunks and boil for about 8 minutes until just tender.
- Blend the beetroot with the milk in a food processor to a rough purée.
- Melt the chocolate in a microwave or over a pan of hot water on the hob.
- Cut the margarine into small chunks, and stir into the molten chocolate until it too melts. Leave to cool slightly.
- Separate the eggs.
- Beat the yolks in a bowl, then stir them into the chocolate and margarine mixture.
- Add the beetroot, flour and sugar to this mixture, and mix until well combined.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed.
- Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, being careful not to over mix and lose all the air you whisked into the egg whites.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for about 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Leave to cool completely and remove from the tin/mould.
- Meanwhile, make the icing by beating the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth and fluffy.
- Spread the icing over the top of one cake, and place the other cake on top to make a sandwich cake with icing in the middle.
- Eat! You can also freeze this – it makes quite a big cake, so you might have to!