Friday, January 21, 2011

Chocolate beet cake

Pudding. That's all I want to eat these days. Rice pudding, tapioca pudding, maybe even bread pudding. I even made a cornstarch based vanilla pudding, but it was too starchy for me. I like custardy puddings best, and would be quite happy with baked custard and more crème caramel. So, maybe I'll be back in a few days with a pudding, but for now I've made you a cake. The quest for beet cake started back in October when I first moved. My mother gave me a large bag of beets and I was looking for ways to use them. I made one, but wasn't completely happy with it, so the draft of that post languished until the other day when I had more beets to use up. Yes, they were from my mother again. She likes to send me home with iron-rich foods. Thanks, Mom.

Oh, and guess what? I got a brand-new stove! I got home the other day, and there it was. So far, so good. The temperature is spot-on, and it goes up to 500℉, which is 100℉ hotter than my old oven, and means I can make great pizza and bread again. In fact, I've already made pizza, but I ate it all up, alongside some celery soup, which is my new favourite soup. My old oven was probably donated to a museum, or maybe you can see one just like it on an old episode of Happy Days. I'm hoping the new stove shakes me out of my blog ennui. I just don't feel like making much these days, and can never find the time to take pictures or write about what I make. Work has been busy and daylight is hard to find. Also, puddingy things are not the most photogenic desserts, at least not in my hands.

Anyway, I went looking for a beet cake recipe online, and found a few, but none of them were quite right. One used 2½ cups of oil for 2-9" layers, which seemed like an awful lot. Another one used chocolate, which I didn't have on hand (it's also in Portuguese, but that's not a big problem: I speak food rather well). The third one used just a little chocolate and spice, so that wasn't it either. Still another one used raw beets, but I had already roasted mine, and had no intention of buying more. So, slightly disappointed that I didn't have a Goldilocks moment, I decided to wing it. That's not as hard as you might think, especially if you understand the interactions between ingredients and what purpose they serve in a baked good. Some folks, especially non-bakers, think of baking as chemistry, where everything has to be just so for it to work. That's just not true! You may not get a prize-winner on your first try, but something made with lots of butter, sugar, eggs and flour will only rarely be a total fail. Here's how I went about developing this recipe:
  • I wanted to use oil, as in a carrot cake, for moistness. I also didn't think the taste of butter would come through with all the cocoa and the beets. Oh, and I had bought 2.5 litres for the doughnut challenge
  • I had no chocolate, only cocoa
  • I was having trouble getting a fine enough puree of beets on their own, so I knew I needed to add something else to the food processor. Buttermilk and cocoa make a great cake, so I went with that. And I had found a litre of it in the back of the fridge. Expiry date today!
  • I like brown sugar in chocolate cakes, so I used it
  • Buttermilk and brown sugar are acidic, meaning that baking soda would be a good addition. I also added baking powder. Think of it as leavening insurance
  • Usually when I make up recipes I don't measure anything, but I did this time. I used my scale because it was easier to see the proportions of ingredients. Sorry, no cup measurements this time!
Go ahead, pile on the whipped cream! You're having beets for dessert.

Chocolate Beet Cake (Updated, based on my friend Judy's results and my 3rd remake)

200 grams all-purpose flour
75 grams Dutch-process cocoa
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
200 grams brown or white sugar
200 grams cooked beet
½ cup water
100 grams buttermilk (or yogurt, or sour cream)
2 eggs
150 grams oil

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉/180℃. Grease a 10” pan and line with parchment.
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Puree beets and buttermilk until smooth. Add eggs, brown sugar, cocoa mixture and oil and combine well. (I just put all this in the food processor and liquified it)
  4. Pour over dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Do not overmix.
  5. Scrape into pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. (May take longer)
  6. Cool in pan on rack, then turn out of pan. Dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream.
The verdict? Well, the top was very cracked, but it was very moist, chocolaty and fudgy. It doesn't taste of beets at all. I found it perfect with whipped cream and a cup of coffee.
This is the first one I made, back in October. It had more cocoa, no water,
less oil and a fussier preparation. It looks much the same as version 2 though.


PattiCake said...

I've never had a beet (they are a veggie after all) but I would be willing to try a piece of this!

Anonymous said...

Very sneaky (and ingenious!) to incorporate beets! I've never cared for beets at all, so I'm hesitant, but I may try it if I get adventurous.

Beth said...

I've never had a beet I didn't like (as my header reveals) Great cake Mary as usual. B:)

Lisa said...

I don't usually like beets, but put them in a chocolate cake and just try to keep me away. This looks really good. I'm starting a new linky on my blog called "Sweets for a Saturday" and I'd like to invite you to stop by and link this up.

Cakelaw said...

This sounds great - and I admire the fact that you developed your own recipe. I have only made beet cake once, to mixed reviews - I will have to remember this if I get more beets.

cocoa and coconut said...

That looks incredible. I was surprised to read the title and to learn there were beetroots hidden in that glorious chocolate cake..

A Canadian Foodie said...

This is the first year I have even heard of beet cake - and this recipe looks like the best I have seen. It was recently at a potluck I was at... but, I didn't try it as it really looked dry - but this is a masterpiece. I will definitely be making this. Anyway to get the gorgeous minerally beet into my food. YUM. The photo is also GORGEOUS!
Thank you for your thoughtful and SMART comments regarding my cake. I love the idea of the apple butter - and, I will try quinoa flour with it first. She doesn't need the cake to be gluten free - I am just trying. All of your suggestions really got me excited. It is clear you know what you are doing (hehe) and I truly truly appreciate the input!
Now, this beet cake would look GORGEOUS in that pan of mine and I could paint the scrolls with white chocolate - or make a template of them and dust only them with the icing sugar.

Evelyne CulturEatz said...

YAY on the new oven! And I totally agree I throw caution into the air too when baking when it comes to ingredients, but I think that comes with experience too. Really nice creation.

Baking Addict said...

I've tried this once previously and really loved it. You definitely can't taste the beet.

Valerie Gamine said...

Congratulations on your new stove! Kitchen appliances are like toys for those of us who love prepare/be in the presence of, food. :-D

This cake sounds awesome! I don't like beets, but then again I didn't think I liked cranberries up until a few months ago. This actually looks quite delicious.

Glad you are feeling better...just 4 more months until spring. ;p

Beth said...

Your cake looks wonderful. What a healthy alternative. Beets for dessert -- who'd guess?

Valérie said...

Yay for your new oven! This is a really unexpected use of beets, but it looks delicious! Enjoy your upcoming pudding!

kellypea said...

I've heard of this type of cake before, but can't remember where. It had something to do with red velvet cake of all things. It sounds really yummy -- especially the moist part. There's nothing more of a drag than a dry chocolate cake. Definitely perfect with a blob of cream :)