How do you indulge yourself after an exceptionally long day, while increasing your daily iron and fiber intake? You puree a cup of roasted beets into your chocolate cake, of course!
I have been battling the Chocolate Beet Cake since last February when I wanted to create a healthier alternative to the traditional birthday cake for Alice’s 1st. I really can’t remember what first provoked the idea of beets in a chocolate cake but thought it sounded great and knew the ancillary pink icing to come from the leftover beets would be a hit with Edie “everything must be pink and purple because I’m a princess” Rose. Sadly, that cake attempt was a fail. The earthiness of the beets was overpowering and mixed terribly with too much baking soda. I was able to soak a chopped roasted beet in whole milk for 30 minutes and use that milk in a vanilla butter-cream frosting to top the ’emergency cake’ I whipped up just before Alice’s birthday dinner.
Here it is early August and our garden is literally ejecting giant bulbs of beet root from the soil. If you’re on the hunt, this is the time of the year you can pick up a large basket of my favourite root vegetable for pocket change at your local farmer’s market. Roast, slice, pickle or bake them into a cake; beets offer a distinctly earthy flavour that those of us that love them, love a lot.
With beets aplenty and feeling good, feeling confident, feeling hungry, I decided to tackle the Chocolate Beet Cake once again. This time I appreciated not just the scarlet colour of the red beet but it’s texture, richness and flavour to create this very tasty family treat that anyone can feel good about serving (Especially to my kids, since there is no chance of either of them actually eating a side of beets with dinner. Not today, anyhow).
Note: This is not one of those “oooh there’s a vegetable in this, I had no idea, that’s crazy talk” desserts I like to strike dinner-party conversations with. This cake offers the earthiness of a the beet root, mixed with the pleasant taste of a good cocoa. Not for all palettes but I really like it and I love how much the girls like it.
Note: Use a good quality premium unsweetened cocoa powder. The best baking advice I can give is to always rely on good quality ingredients and it is so very true with an item like cocoa powder. The good stuff will elevate recipes like chocolate or red velvet cakes to professional standard. I like Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa, found in Longo’s grocery stores.
Chocolate Beetroot Cake
Inspired by a recipe from The London Times 2007
Makes 2x 6″ round pans or 1 9″ round or square pan
- 3/4 cup good quality cocoa powder
- 1 3/4 cup cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup caster sugar (super fine sugar. If you don’t have, simply puree your granulated sugar in the food processor for 30 secs.)
- 1 cup cooked fresh beetroot (pureed)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup corn or sunflower oil
Pre heat oven to 350F. Lightly butter your cake pan(s).Sift cocoa powder, flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in sugar and set aside.Puree cooked beetroot in food processor. (See below for directions of cooking and peeling your beets).
Add eggs one at a time, pulsing/mixing after each addition. Add vanilla and oil and blend in food processor until smooth.Make a well in center of dry ingredients, stir in beetroot mixture, and lightly mix.
Pour into pan and bake for 50-60minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. If the cake begins to brown, cover lightly with foil, after about 30 minutes. It WON’T rise a great deal, and the top might crack slightly.
Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes IN PAN, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Let cool completely before frosting.
Dust with icing sugar, serve with whipped cream or creme fraiche or fully frost with your favourite flavour. Pictures above, I created a super simple light chocolate butter-cream icing.
Lazy Me’s Chocolate Butter-Cream
I feel I should mention, I’ve been eating a large slice of this Chocolate Beet Cake and sipping a large glass of my Organic Meadow 2% while writing this entire post and my soul really does seem satisfied.
The easiest route to peel the skins, enhance the natural sweetness and maintain the nutritional value of the beet root it to roast them. Here’s how I do it with about 2 lbs of beets:
Trim off stem ends and scrub beets clean.
Place on double thickness of tin foil and drizzle with water. Wrap foil over beets and seal package tightly.
Place on baking sheet and bake in 425°F oven until tender, about 1 hour.
Wearing rubber or plastic gloves, scrub the exterior skins off using a clean kitchen scrub brush. You can also use a strong paper towel and dull knife to gently peel away the skin. Peel and quarter each before placing it in the food processor.