Photos courtesy of Carolyn Helt
There are a surprising number of beet cake recipes out there. From Martha Stewart to David Lebovitz to many home cooks and food bloggers, the recipes are really quite intriguing–and vary greatly. Some call for cake flour. Some specify separating the eggs as with a sponge cake. Some use all cocoa powder, some just dark chocolate, and others a combination of the two. All, of course, rely on fresh beet puree. To obtain this, simply steam, boil, or roast peeled, chopped or sliced beets. Once they are tender, they will puree nicely in a food processor. I wasn’t able to achieve a smooth puree; mine was a bit coarse. But that’s okay. it worked just fine.
If you didn’t know this cake was prepared with beets, you probably wouldn’t notice. The combination of Dutch-process cocoa and semisweet chocolate lends to it’s intensely dark color, and the addition of vegetable oil and beet puree result in its moist texture and satisfying sweetness.
Serve it gussied up with Chocolate Ganache and Candied Beets or simply dusted with confectioners’ sugar.
Makes one 9-inch cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
½ cup hot brewed strong coffee or espresso
¼ cup hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups pureed beets
Chocolate Ganache (recipe follows) for coating
Candied Beets (recipe follows) for deorating
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray or brush a 9-inch nonstick springform pan with vegetable spray or oil and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
Combine the vegetable oil and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Heat gently at about 20-second intervals in the microwave until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Set aside to cool a bit.
When the chocolate has cooled, whisk in the eggs, coffee, hot water, and vanilla extract. Add the beet puree and stir until combined.
Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the beet mixture, about ¼ at a time. Mix until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is well risen, fragrant, and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before carefully removing it from the pan and setting on the rack to cool completely.
To finish the cake, cut off the top of the cake (about ¼ inch thick) to even the top. Remove the round of parchment from the bottom of the cake and set it on the cut top. Invert the cake onto a wire rack set on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. The top now should be nice and flat.
Pour the warm Chocolate Ganache onto the center of the cake and, using a small offset spatula or butter knife, gradually spread the ganache evenly over the top of the cake, allowing it to run down the sides. If you are game, gently “bang” the rack on the baking sheet to encourage the ganache to evenly distribute on and around the cake. Set aside at room temperature to cool and become firmer. (The ganache won’t harden completely.)
Carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate and decorate with Candied Beets and a drizzle of beet syrup (reserved in the Candied Beets recipe below), if desired.
½ cup heavy cream
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
Pinch of salt
Heat the cream in the microwave or in a small saucepan just below the boil.
Combine the chocolate, vanilla, and corn syrup in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and set aside for about 2 minutes, allowing the chocolate to begin to melt. Gently stir the ganache until it is smooth and glossy. If some of the chocolate still hasn’t melted, heat the ganache in the microwave at 10-seond intervals, stirring each time, until the mixture is completely smooth.
Set aside to cool slightly before using (it should be warm but not hot). Alternatively, cool the ganache completely, cover, store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, and re-warm before using.
1 ½ cups water
1 ½ cups sugar
1 medium beet, peeled and cut into 1/16-inch-thick slices
Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to low, add the beet slices, and simmer gently until tender and nearly translucent, 25 to 35 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
Drain the beets, reserving the syrup, and arrange at least ½-inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake until dry and crisp, 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Set aside to cool on the pans. Use them immediately or store in an airtight container.