There’s a couple of cafes that we go to regularly that make really, really good chocolate beetroot cake: rich and dense, sandwiched together with a thick layer of cream cheese icing – the kind of cake that you have to share a piece, because if you were to have a whole one all to yourself you’d probably spend the next couple of hours in a haze of digestion. I decided to have a go at making a chocolate beetroot cake at home, but wanted something a bit different from what we’d usually go for. I spent a while browsing through recipes, but didn’t really feel inspired by any of them, so decided to experiment with putting something together myself. I know that baking is an area where we’re told to be careful and stick to the recipe, but I think that as long as you’re willing to take a risk, then the possibility of making something exactly tailored to your tastes is too tempting to pass up.
In my case, those tastes involve a cake that’s moist, dark, really well flavoured and not sickly sweet. I was lucky: the cake came together really well and I took it out of the oven just in time. I don’t usually make iced cakes, but wanted to carry the coffee flavour through and liked the idea of setting a layer of crunchy nuts and chocolate covered coffee beans into it. I was going to brew up some real coffee to use in this recipe, but at the last minute came across some of that ‘microground’ instant coffee in our baking draw – not something I’d drink, but just fine to bake with.
This recipe is definitely a keeper!
For the cake:
100g ground almonds
100g self raising flour
70g good quality cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
200g cooked (and cooled) beetroot
3 large eggs
200ml rapeseed oil
225g golden caster sugar
A dash of vanilla
4 rounded tsp. microground instant coffee
2 tsp. cardamom seeds, freshly ground
100g dark chocolate (I used 70%), roughly chopped
For the icing:
About 1/2 tsp. microground instant coffee
A few almonds and pistachios, roughly chopped
Chocolate coated coffee beans
Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
In a blender, blitz together the beetroot, cardamom, coffee and vanilla.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder, then add the ground almonds.
Decant the beetroot puree into a medium sized bowl, and with an electric whisk set to medium, mix in the eggs, one at a time. Next, add the oil, a little at a time. Finally, set the whisk to high, and whisk in the sugar, little by little.
Pour this into the flour mixture, and using a spatula, start to fold in. When everthing seems about half combined, add the chocolate, then keep folding in until everything is completely mixed (take care at this stage, otherwise you might end up with little pockets of flour in the baked cake.)
Pour into a greased tin (I actually used a silicone mould, which didn’t need any greasing), then bake in the middle of the oven for around 45 minutes, depending on your oven. I covered mine with some baking paper after about 25 minutes to stop it from browning too much.
When done, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin. Then, turn out onto a wire rack, and prepare the icing. I’m afraid I didn’t measure the icing sugar – maybe I used around 100g? I’m not really sure! Anyway, sift some sugar into a small bowl, add the coffee, and cold water, a tablespoon at a time, and whisk with a fork until you have a smooth, pourable consistency – you don’t want it too runny. Taste a little to check the flavour, and add more coffee if you like, then working quickly, pour over the top of the cake. Use a palette knife to spread it evenly, then sprinkle over the nuts and coffee beans. Put it somewhere to set (don’t worry, it doesn’t take long) and then find someone – anyone – to come and admire it!