- Food & Drink
Poor beetroot. It does all it can to make itself loveable. It comes in a variety of pretty pinks and purples, it’s full of all those vitamins and minerals we know we should eat more of, and it’s amenable to being eaten raw, cooked or however you like it, really. But still we do not take it to our hearts.
Mostly it’s down to beetroot’s flavour. A taste that goes with practically everything and that I paradoxically find impossible to match to anything. When I open the fridge and spy the pack of beetroot sitting there, looking sad and neglected, I am stumped. The shelves could be stuffed with ham, goat’s cheese, corned beef, blue cheese, pickled herring, cornichons, rye bread, potatoes, dill, crème fraîche, watercress and mackerel (all of which are excellent with beetroot) and still I’d think: “Nope, you are a lost cause beetroot” and abandon it to its lonely fate.
Happily beetroot has a champion, the Love Beetroot campaign, who want to persuade the British public to embrace this hardy root vegetable and eat it until their insides are stained red. Or, at least, stained redder than they already are.
Many months ago they sent me some beetroot so I could face my beetroot demons and come up with a recipe that makes me adore it as much as they do. At the time I found myself in need of cake (as per usual), so I grated the beetroot and baked it in a chocolate cake. Its sweet earthiness sidles up to the chocolate’s forest floor bitterness and together they make whoopee amongst the butter, flour and sugar.
Chocolate and beetroot cake
125g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
100g dark chocolate, chopped
250g caster sugar
3 medium eggs, beaten
225g self raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
225g cooked beetroot (not the stuff stored in vinegar, obviously), coarsely grated
FOR THE FROSTING
100g butter, softened
200g soft cheese
50g icing sugar
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/fan oven 160°C. Grease a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base with baking parchment. Set aside.
Place 90g of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of just simmering water. Heat until melted and smooth, then set aside.
Beat the butter until soft and creamy. Beat in the caster sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, a little at a time, until combined. Fold in the melted chocolate.
Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold to combine. Fold in the grated beetroot. Scrape the cake mixture into the tin, level the surface and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until firm and risen. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the frosting by beating the butter until it’s soft and creamy. Beat in the soft cheese, then sift in the icing sugar and beat to combine. Spread or pipe the frosting over the top of the cake. Grate the remaining chocolate and sprinkle over the top to decorate. Eat within 3–5 days.