There is something fascinating about the American way of adding all kinds of slightly sweet vegetables to a cake batter, mainly for frugal reasons, but also for the moisture and the unique flavor the vegetables add to the cakes. The most common vegetable cake is, of course, the carrot cake, but the list goes on – from zucchini to pumpkin, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and even tomatoes, in the form of a soup…
Adding beets to a cake is less popular, but I’m sure that once you’ll try it, you’ll love the results. The beets add a lovely flavor and color to the cake, and the enriched nutritional value is an extra bonus. Some of such cake recipes call for cooked puréed beets, but I find that fresh beets results better texture and flavor. As I was developing this recipe for a health food magazine, I have also replaced most of the white sugar with brown sugar, and part of the white flour with whole wheat flour, but you can use all white flour if you prefer. I’ve also added spices, chocolate chips and chopped pecans – and ended up with the following tasty version. Try and and enjoy.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes
For the cake:
3 medium size beets
2 L eggs
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
¾ cup oil
½ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1½ cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour for cakes (or regular flour)
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbs dutch processed cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger powder
½ cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped pecans
For the icing (optional)
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 Tbs milk
1. The cake: peel and grate the beets (food processor makes it easier). You should end up with about 2 cups of grated beets.
2. Preheat the oven to 355F (180C). Brush a 9½” (24cm) baking pan with oil and dust with a bit of flour.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs with the sugar. Add the oil and mix well. Add the milk and vanilla, and mix again. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger powder. Mix to a smooth batter.
4. Add the chocolate chips, pecans and beets and mix lightly, using a spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted to the center of the cake comes out almost clean.
5. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before adding the icing, if using.
The icing: put the powdered sugar in a bowl. Add the milk, one tablespoon at a time, and mix until you reach a spreadable but not too runny consistency. Drizzle over the cake. Let it set before cutting.