Beetroot is as mighty as vegetables come. Admittedly I spent half my life thinking it came only in pickled form as my family used to eat it with chicken liver pate and mayonnaise on an open rye sandwich. Occasionally my mother would add the same pickled stuff to salads. Otherwise I had no real conception that it existed as a vegetable until I came to the UK and saw it sold with leaves and all. Imagine my excitement!
It's still a mystery why my parents, otherwise great advocates of root vegetables in both their raw and cooked form, didn't expose me to the humble beetroot. They did an excellent job exposing me to carrot and potatoes, just not beetroot.
Endlessly versatile, beetroot I've since discovered, can be roasted with thyme and garlic, or shredded raw into winter salads. It makes a great risotto, as The Larder Lout will tell you. And beetroot works a treat in cake.
I found a recipe in the Telegraph which I tweaked slightly, reducing the sugar slightly and adding more chocolate. you can see the original here
Use raw beetroot as you would use raw carrot in a classic American carrot cake. I opted for the cooked stuff to save time on this chocolate cake; the beetroot's subtle in flavour and you'll hardly taste it with all the chocolate and cocoa in this recipe but it lends a wonderful moist texture to chocolate cakes.
Do try it, but whatever you do, steer clear of the pickled beetroot for baking and save instead for open sandwiches!
250g cooked beetroot 100g dark chocolate 125g butter 250g light brown muscovado sugar (I used Billington's) 3 medium eggs 50g cocoa powder 225g self-raising flour (or the same quality of refined spelt flour with 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda) 1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, Gas Mark 4. Lightly grease a 22cm cake tin
In a medium bowl weigh the diced butter and dark chocolate chopped in small pieces. Place this over simmering water in a medium saucepan and allow the butter and chocolate to melt completely. Set aside to cool.
Sift the dry ingredients into a medium bowl and stir to distribute the raising agents, cocoa powder and salt.
In a medium-large bowl place the eggs and sugar and beat until pale and mousse-like:
Blitz the beetroot:
Add half the beetroot and half the dry ingredients to the bowl with the egg and sugar and fold through 4-5 times. Add the remainder of the beetroot and dry ingredients and again fold through 4-5 times until the mixture is smooth.
Finally, pour this into the cake tin and bake on the middle oven shelf for 40-50 minutes (depending on how reliable your oven is. Mine isn't!) Insert a skewer to see if the cake is cooked through. The skewer should have no wet mixture when you remove it. When the cake is done, allow to cool 10 minutes before removing the tin and placing on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before icing with equal parts melted dark chocolate and butter, with a few tablespoons of icing sugar to sweeten the icing. If you fancy a fruity twist, pierce the cake all over with a skewer and drizzle creme de cassis over before icing.