A controversial topic amongst many (or at least some), do vegetables really have a place in cakes? The answer of course is YES! They most certainly do. It’s no small secret that I am a keen follower in the practice of adding vegetables to cakes.
Many varieties of sweet potato cake, pumpkin muffins & parsnip cake have seen the inside of my kitchen over the years. Vegetables are an ingredient not to be overlooked & simply resigned to a sunday dinner. They not only add a moist pleasurable squidge & unique flavour to a cake but it’s also an excellent way to use up any garden gluts or excess of veg & avoid waste.
By far the more superior of all the vegetable cakes though would have to be beetroot red velvet cake. As a lover of beetroot, (unashamedly accounting for at least half of any salads), I am more than happy to add it to cakes & brownies. When paired with the bitterness of a dark chocolate, the sweet tang of beetroot is a curiously delicious marriage that leaves you wanting more.
This cake holds a very special place for me. It was my first venture into vegetable cakes & I instantly fell in love with its brownie like nature. It’s also a cake that has earned me quite a few compliments over the years, including whilst being professionally judged at one point! It’s a recipe that has been requested by many, even after finding out what the star ingredient is (it’s worth making this just for the look when you tell them, a mixture of confusion & acceptance usually).
Beetroot cakes have a very unique flavour, the beetroot itself sort of melts away into the background of the chocolate but adds a lovely earthy sweetness. It also works well here in my red velvet as it imparts a natural red hue to the sponges.
This is a show stopping, crowdpleaser of a cake which is why it has become my go to recipe for any celebration cakes over the year (including my own!). If you’ve never tasted a classic beetroot red velvet cake before then you owe it to yourself to give this one a go, plus it’s always fun to see people trying to guess exactly what they’re eating when you give them a slice!
RED VELVET CAKE
(makes an 18cm layer cake)
- 125g butter
- 100g dark chocolate
- 250g caster sugar
- 1tbs cocoa powder
- 250g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 egg
- 90g yogurt
- 200g ready cooked beetroot (you can use fresh or ready bought)
- 85ml boiling water (or the cooking juices from preparing the beetroot when using fresh)
- 1/2 tsp red food colouring
To fill & cover:
- 500g full fat cream cheese
- 1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp icing sugar (adjust to your sweetness preference)
- 1 tbsp cornflour (or more if it still needs a little thickening. Some may call it cheating but I swear by it when making cream cheese frosting)
For the candied beetroot decoration:
- Half a medium beetroot, sliced thinly
- 100ml water
- 150g caster sugar
- In a small saucepan, melt together the butter & dark chocolate over a very low heat to avoid the chocolate from burning
- Put the beetroot, egg & yogurt into the bowl of a food processor & blits everything together until it resembles a smoothie with no chunks remaining in the bowl
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, caster sugar, cocoa & bicarbonate of soda
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients & add in the beetroot mixture, the chocolate mixture & the boiling water
- Whisk everything together until smooth & no pockets of flour remain
- Divide the mixture evenly between 3 greased & lined 18cm sandwich tins
- Bake in the oven at 180C for 30 minutes, until the cakes are springing back to the touch when pressed lightly with a finger in the centre
- Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for 10 mins before removing & placing on a wire cooling rack until cooled
- When the cakes are completely cool, sandwich together using 1/2 of the frosting
- Use the remaining frosting to coat & cover the top & sides of the cake before smoothing
- To make the candied beetroot slices, begin by slicing the beetroot as thinly as possible using a sharp knife or mandoline
- Put the slices into a medium sized saucepan along with the sugar & water
- Gently heat everything until the sugar has completely dissolved
- Bring the mixture up to the boil & continue to boil for 5 – 10 minutes until the sugar & water have become thick & syrupy
- Carefully remove the beetroot slices, allowing any excess liquid to fall away & place on a cooling rack to dry out before decorating the cake
- I also like to grate or shave a little bit of dark chocolate to use as decoration