Chocolate and beetroot has now become another ‘classic’ flavour combination, but aside from a chocolate beetroot brownie a few years ago, I have not explored the pairing much myself. I love fresh beetroot, its moody, dark, blood red colour and mysterious earthy flavour always draws me to it. A few weeks ago I picked up a huge pack and enjoyed a happy few days eating it roasted or shredded into salads and sandwiches. However, it got to a stage where every time I opened the fridge I seemed to discover yet another beetroot still waiting to be used. There is only so much beetroot I can take before my mind starts imagining how to include it in a baked treat.
Beetroot and chocolate seemed the place to start and I decided on a simple cake. I wanted the beetroot to be the star of the show and so shunned anything covered in mountains of cream or frosting in flavour of a simple snack cake. I then hit upon the idea of jazzing it up with a glaze, made a fabulous vibrant pinky/purple using the juice of the cooked beetroot. This added both a burst of vibrant colour and little sweetness, while being completely natural, no food dye required!
The cake itself is on first glance just a chocolate cake, but if you look more closely you can see a definite rustic burgundy hue to the sponge. It also smelt different to regular chocolate cake, slightly earthy, mysterious and yet still very chocolaty. The flavour too was chocolaty, only more complex with an undertone of there being something a little bit extra special included, without it actually screaming beetroot. I would liken it to when you add just a touch of coffee to chocolate cakes, you don’t necessary taste the coffee, but it adds a depth and richness to the chocolate. This seemed to work in the same principle.
On the first day the cake was light and tender but over the next two days it became softer and stickier as the beetroot released its moisture into the cake. I think the cake was at its optimum about 2 days after baking, when I couldn’t stop eating it. The arty drizzle of beetroot glaze worked really well against the flavour of the cake and added little bites of sweetness against the rather intense chocolate flavour of the cake.
This was a delicious cake and I loved its simplicity yet complex flavour. I’ll be experimenting with other beetroot baked treats again, it’s worth the ruby stained hands, although you could always buy the precooked stuff – just not the kind in vinegar please!
Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Beetroot Glaze
180ml vegetable or sunflower oil
180g gluten free self raising flour
55g cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g caster sugar
250g cooked beetroot (or 350g raw)
1 tsp vanilla extract
80g royal icing sugar (*see note)
Juice from the cooked beetroot
Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and line a deep 8inch springform tin.
If you are using a packet of cooked beetroot then continue onto the next step. If using raw beetroot, trim the ends and peel the skin from the beetroot. Cut each beetroot into quarters and place into a small glass bowl. Add 1 tbsp water and cover the top with clingfilm. Microwave on high for 8 minutes until the beetroot are just softened. Set aside to cool, but do not throw away any of the beetroot juice created.
Place your cooked beetroot (reserve any juice for later) into a food processor and blitz until you have fine shreds. Add the eggs and blitz again. Add the oil and vanilla and mix again until well combined.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and add the sugar. Pour your beetroot mixture on top and fold everything together using a large spoon of spatula.
Pour the cake mix into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until slightly springy to the touch and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before running a knife around the edge of the tin and releasing the cake from the tin. Leave to cool completely.
Once cooled, place the royal icing sugar into a small bowl and slowly add the reserved beetroot juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you achieve a thick, yet drizzle-worthy glaze. It will be a gorgeous bright purple colour.
Transfer the cooled cake to a serving plate and artfully drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake.
Leave to set for 20 minutes before serving.
Makes 1 x 8inch cake
The cake tastes even better as it ages, as the beetroot slowly releases its moisture into the cake making it turn softer and moister. I found 2 days in it was at its best.
* Note: Royal icing sugar sets hard and won’t be so easily absorbed into the cake, making for a better finish. You can use regular icing sugar in place of the royal icing sugar, but it will remain wet and soak into the cake and disappear over time