Prepare yourself for a lot of chocolate. The oldest of my three girls is a self-diagnosed chocolate lover. As head baker, I indulge her because when is chocolate anything a bad idea? Focusing on one category as I have done with chocolate has made me somewhat of an expert. Self-proclaimed naturally. After 10 years of trying out chocolate recipes, I am at the point where I can imagine which ones would be worth it. This one is definitely worth it.
This one, a chocolate beetroot cake comes from Fiona Cairns. She made the wedding cake for William and Cate in 2015. Cairns has been baking for over 25 years and sells her cakes to Harrods and Fortnum & Mason’s in London. I read that she charges up to £20,000 for some of them.
There are many of you out there that hate beetroot. That might be tempted to dismiss this because of the beetroot. And I hear you. I get you. I’ve tried to make more than one sweet potato vegan brownie that in hindsight I would classify as a waste of sweet potato and an hour of my life. But the beetroot in here does what the carrot does in a carrot cake. Without the bits. It makes the resulting cake moist, tender and more chocolatey.
You can bake or steam fresh beetroot but equally, you can use the vacuum packed kind. If you have a food processor this cake is a cinch to make. Even without one, you can use a hand blender (the kind you would use to blitz your soup) to blend the beets and the oil together and continue with the recipe. The recipe calls for sunflower oil but you can opt for mild flavoured olive oil.
Fiona Cairns original recipe in The Telegraph pairs this cake with a striking pink top made up of white chocolate, icing sugar and beetroot juice. But we prefer it with a simple chocolate and cream frosting. It means we get to eat our cake as soon as possible.
• 180 ml Sunflower oil (or mild EVOO)
• 180g flour
• 60g cocoa powder
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
• 250g sugar
• 150g cooked beetroot (or 1 large beetroot the size of a large orange)
• 3 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 100g dark chocolate (50% cocoa solids minimum)
• 100g double cream (minimum 38% fat)
• Preheat oven to 170 C fan oven
• Line a round 23 cm baking pan with parchment paper and lightly butter to prevent the cake sticking.
• In a large bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder.
• In a food processor, process the beetroot until it is small pieces. Alternatively use a stick blender.
• When you have small pieces of beetroot, the size of grated carrot. Add the oil and process until smooth.
• Next, add the sugar and process again.
• Mix the eggs in one at a time.
• Lastly, fold in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. (If you are using a food processor, dump this all and pulse until it’s all incorporated)
• Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Start testing after 40 minutes with a metal skewer which should come out clean. Another way to know is to see if the cake is starting to pull away from the sides of the tin. (This is a hard cake to dry out because of the oil and beetroot.)
• For the frosting. Break the chocolate up into small pieces and put in a bowl. Heat the cream until bubbles start to appear on the side. Immediately pour over onto the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute then mix, starting in the centre and drawing in from the sides. It will be very liquidy. Leave it to sit while the cake cools down. It will thicken.
• When the cake is cool and the frosting is thick, spread on top of the cake.