Some things in life force one to slow down. Illness is one of those things. One of those things that knocks you down, forces the never-ending to do list to wait. Most things must wait.
But when the fog finally lifts, clarity is one of the many rewards. Some things can still wait (I’m looking at you Netflix, social media and that unruly cupboard). Others cannot. Life reminds us in the strangest ways, what is most important.
This blog post was going to be published midweek but here we are. Friday. The most wonderful day of the week. Or, is that Saturday? Either way, the chocolate beetroot cake recipe that I present today is a must try recipe. It is moist and rich. It has a red tinge without any unnatural food colouring. It is satisfying without being overly sweet or requiring the usual icing suspects like buttercream or cream cheese frosting. Finally, I think it’s the perfect midweek cake for several reasons: 1. It is not overly fussy, 2. You can use up the of the large bunch of beets that you spontaneously purchased at the farmer’s market a couple of weekends ago, and 3. You can bake it on Sunday afternoon and it tastes even better on Tuesday.
Moist Chocolate-Beet Cake
240g red beets cooked and peeled
200g high quality dark chocolate (70% cacao solids), broken into pieces
60ml hot water (or espresso)
200g unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
135g all-purpose flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder*
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
200g castor sugar**
1. Prepare beets by cutting off the greens and scrubbing them. Place whole beets in a pot of boiling, salted water and cook for 35-45 minutes until tender. Assemble all ingredients while the beets are cooking. Drain*** and allow to cool so that you can peel the skin and cut the stem and root off. Quarter the beets and then blend them into a puree. Set aside.
2. Butter a 20cm (8 inches) cake pan or spring form pan. Line with parchment paper.
3. Melt the chocolate in a large bowl over pan of barely simmering water. Once it is nearly melted, turn off the heat and pour in the hot water (or espresso) and stir it once. Add the butter and press the cubes into the chocolate to melt it without stirring.
4. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.
5. Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and stir until the butter is melted. Let it sit for a few minutes before slowly adding the stirred egg yolks to the melted chocolate mixture. Fold in the beets.
6. Whip the egg whites in a stand mixer (or with by hand if you want a workout) until stiff. Fold the sugar into the egg whites using a spatula.
7. Fold the egg white mixture into the melted chocolate mixture, being careful not to over-mix. Finally, slowly fold in the flour mixture.
8. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake at 325°F/160°C for 40 minutes. Be careful not to over-bake. Test with a toothpick. The sides should be just set and the middle a bit wobbly. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack and then remove from pan.
Serve and enjoy this lovely cake in generous slices with the recommended crème fraîche and poppy seeds or with a sprinkle of icing sugar and a lightly sweetened dollop of whipped cream.
*Chose a good quality, dark cocoa powder. I used Dutch-process in my recipe but either can be used.
** To make superfine sugar, simple take granulated sugar and put it in a food processor. This is a good thing to have on hand as most British recipes will call for it.
***Wait! Don't let that vibrant red beet juice go down the drain. Boil it down and save it for future baking or household projects. Click here!