Beetroot & Chocolate Cake

I was recently challenged to use beetroot in a sweet dish. I wasn’t entirely freaked out but did think it would make for an interesting flavour. Vegetables such as carrot and beetroot can work well in cakes as they have a natural sweetness to them and add tonnes of moisture. This recipe is based on one for carrot cake, with the addition of chocolate to enhance the flavour and let’s not forget the gems on top – chocolate candied beetroot! Not strictly candied (like lemon or orange peel) but cooked in a sugar syrup and tossed in cocoa powder to take this cake to another level. =]

Beetroot & Chocolate Cake

Serves 12

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Ingredients

  • butter, for greasing

for the cake

  • 180g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 20g cocoa powder, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 225g dark brown soft sugar
  • 225ml sunflower oil
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 225g raw beetroot, peeled and grated (about 275g unpeeled)

for the candied beetroot

  • 200ml water
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g raw beetroot, peeled and chopped into 5mm cubes (about 60g unpeeled)
  • 20g cocoa powder, sifted

for the buttercream frosting

  • 60g unsalted butter, softened
  • 30ml milk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 240g icing sugar, sifted
  • pink gel colouring

Method

Make the cake: preheat the oven to 180°C (170°C fan)/350°F/gas mark 4, grease a 20cm square tin and line with non-stick baking paper.

Combine the flour, cocoa and spices in a bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat the sugar, oil and eggs together with a balloon whisk. Pass this mixture through a sieve set over another bowl, pressing through any lumps of sugar then return to the large bowl. Stir in the beetroot followed by the dry ingredients until they are evenly mixed in. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and bake for 50-55 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the candied beetroot: dissolve the sugar in the water in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the chopped beetroot and simmer until tender (about 10 minutes). Strain the cooked beetroot into a sieve and allow to cool before tossing in the cocoa powder.

Make the buttercream frosting: beat the butter with the milk, vanilla extract and half the icing sugar until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in the remaining icing sugar, a heaped spoonful at a time, to produce a thick and creamy mixture. Mix in enough colouring to tint the frosting pink then spread evenly over the top of the cooled cake and decorate with the candied beetroot.

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