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When Life Hands You Beets, Make Chocolate Cake

 

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Having grown them in our back yard and received dozens of bunches, long and round, purple and golden, in our CSA boxes over the course of the summer and fall, we have a lot of beets in the house. And one can only eat so much borscht.

Beet cake isn’t as reminiscent of carrot cake as you might think. The beets practically melt into the cake, and unless you have particularly honed taste buds, or know they’re there, you won’t. We made this to bring to one of the last barbecues of the season, and no one thought it was anything more than a dense, moist chocolate cake, topped with lopsided sprinkles. (It is difficult for a 5 year old to maneuver a sprinkle shaker.)

Bundt cakes are easy – there’s no need to bother with frosting layers, and if your frosting winds up too thin, it will run appealingly down the sides, as if it was meant to be that way. A bundt is easy to slice, and easy to eat, even with your fingers.

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To roast beets, trim their greens, wrap each in foil (small ones can go in packets of two or three) and roast in the oven, directly on the rack, for an hour or until tender. This is easy to do while something else is baking – you can keep the roasted beets in their foil in the fridge (in a bowl to catch red drips) until you’re ready for them.

Chocolate Beet Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola or other vegetable oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 medium beets, roasted and peeled

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Coarsely grate the beets using the large-holed side of a box grater.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients along with the grated beets and stir just until combined. Pour into a well-greased Bundt pan and bake for an hour, until the top is springy to the touch. Let cool for about 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Serves 16.

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