I remember when I first heard about using beetroot in a chocolate cake, way back in about 2007, from a TV show called “Cook Yourself Thin”. I never watched the TV show, but they released a cookbook around the same time, which I bought and have used on occasion. Despite the title, it’s actually full of delicious recipes that are just healthier alternatives to things like you’re typical takeaway, and it has some cracking desserts that don’t scrimp on flavour.
I never made the cake from the cookbook and, like a lot of my cookbooks, I stopped using it as much as I had originally. I do, however, read through them all every now and then to re-inspire myself and try some new recipes that I didn’t try first time round (or re-make things that once used to be a on a constant meal rotation).
The beetroot chocolate cake came back onto my radar just a few months ago, due to a nursery child having allergies, and his mum making this beetroot cake for his class every birthday party day. In my school, on day a month is dedicated to celebrating all of the birthdays of the children from that month. With so many children in one class, we’d be having birthday parties every week if we didn’t dedicate one day. So on this one day, this child’s mother makes a beetroot chocolate cake, and we get to have a slice to share among us in the office. After a few months of this, we finally asked the mum for the recipe, and she happily obliged.
Her version of the beetroot cake, is slightly different to the one from the “Cook Yourself Thin” cookbook, and I have adapted the recipes of both to find something that is incredibly moist and spongy.
One girl at the office took half of the pan home for breakfast, lunch and dinner over the weekend. Everyone else in the office had at least two squares each. And the rest I gave to a friend whom I met for happy hour. And she sent me pictures of the quarter tray of cake on a plate, and an empty plate, just 8 minutes apart. She and her boyfriend had devoured it.
I actually made two cakes this week. One for the blog – all layered and beautiful. And another (a sheet cake version) to take to work. We can all admit that my cake slicing skills need some work (or a special tool) so that my layers are more even, because they are not at all. But, I’m pretty proud of my first “naked” layer cake. I haven’t made many layer cakes in my time, and when I have, I’ve covered up flaws with lots of buttercream, but not this time. You can also jazz this cake up by adding food colouring to your frosting, but that’s a personal choice.
I have to give a big shout out to my friend, JA, for letting me use her kitchen. The lighting for the cake was just perfect, despite the rain outside. I trudged cake, cream cheese butter cream, a piping bag, piping tips, a coupler, a cake carrier and a table cloth to work and then to her flat just for these photos. The things I do to get the right aesthetic! But it worked out great, plus she got some cake too.
I know that some of you are still trying to get over the idea that there is beetroot in this cake. But trust me. You genuinely cannot taste it, and it just gives such an incredible moisture to the cake. I don’t think I will make chocolate sponge cake the same ever again.
250 grams cooked beetroot (either buy pre-packed, or boil in water until soft)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250 ml vegetable or sunflower oil
225 grams self-raising flour
150 grams caster sugar
100 grams soft brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
250 grams cream cheese, softened
100 grams unsalted butter, softened
500 grams icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease two to four cake pans (with removable bases) with butter. The more cake pans you fill, the more layers you will have. If you use two pans, you can just cut the layers in half later on to make a 4-layer cake.
- Place the beetroot, eggs, vanilla extract and oil in a blender and blitz until liquid and smooth. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugars, baking powder, bicarb of soda, salt and cocoa powder. When all combined, pour in the beetroot mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
- Divide the batter among the cake pans equally and bake for 50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle.
- Set the cakes aside and allow to cool.
- Whisk the butter and icing sugar together on a low speed (if you don’t have a free-standing mixer with a pouring shield, you can resort to my budget technique of a tea towel thrown over your hand mixer and bowl to prevent icing sugar dust flying everywhere).
- Once the butter has been blended in with the sugar, add the cream cheese and beat until smooth and creamy.
- Place the first layer of cake onto a plate/cake turner.
- Add the cream cheese frosting to a piping bag equipped with a large-holed nozzle and spiral the frosting starting from the middle all the way out to the edge of the cake. Place the next layer on top and repeat with the icing. Do this for the final layer.
- Change your piping nozzle to a more flowery-shaped nozzle, and decorate the top of the cake as you wish.
- Eat and enjoy!