Beetroot and chocolate cake – no really, it’s delicious

Its earthy taste is perfect with the rich cacao and fruity olive oil, all balanced with a honey-kissed cream cheese frosting

Make a little glacé icing to drizzle over the cake by mixing beetroot juice with icing sugar

Make a little glacé icing to drizzle over the cake by mixing beetroot juice with icing sugar

 

Beetroot is plentiful at farmers’ markets now. It’s cheap and makes a really great chocolate cake. I used to make chocolate beetroot cake years ago and always roasted the beets first. There always seems to be so much preparation involved, so this time I decided to just grate the beets raw into the batter, as you would do with carrots for a carrot cake and it works really well.

The batter is quite wet and is olive-oil based but bakes to make a beautiful soft-crumbed cake that will last for up to four days in the fridge un-iced. Ice it when you want to serve it. The cream cheese frosting is incredibly simple and is also delicious on a warm toasted bagel or carrot cake. Just stir some honey and a drop of vanilla into the cold cream cheese. There’s no need to over-beat the cream cheese, just stir it gently.

One of beetroot’s best qualities is its vibrant colour. Use a little beet juice to colour the frosting if you like or make a little glace icing to drizzle over the cake by mixing beetroot juice with icing sugar.

Often the main complaint against beetroot is it’s earthy taste. Paired with the right thing, that earthiness is a blessing in disguise. Here, those earthy elements are perfect with the rich cacao and fruity olive oil, all balanced with a honey-kissed cream cheese frosting.

I love a good loaf cake, it’s so much more practical than a multi-tiered cake. This cake can also be baked almost like a brownie in a shallow Swiss roll tin, just reduce the cooking time. Little bitesize squares of this wrapped in greaseproof paper are perfect for school lunches. 

Beets are ideal for fermenting too as they contain plenty of stored sugars. Last year I made a batch of Kvass, a fantastic fermented drink bursting with probiotics and a wonderful tonic for the liver and blood. It’s the perfect drink to prepare your system for winter. I thought it was unsuccessful at the time but I recently found a 10-month-old bottle from that batch hidden among wine bottles and it was divine. Lively, effervescent and so refreshing. So I’m going to make plenty more this year and stash it as best I can.

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