Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chocolate Beet Cake

I prefer numbers that, like vegetable-laden cakes, have many factors. I dislike the significant, holy numbers like 3 and 7, and particularly loathe large prime numbers, which remind me of tax-evading misanthropes. So thank heavens that as of yesterday my age is no longer a middling-large prime number. I'm annoyed that 3 is still a factor, but there's nothing for it but to wait out the whole 8 years before I haven't any odd factors at all -- and make myself a birthday cake.

It's to be a fudgy beet chocolate cake, with a mixing method that's more brownie-inspired than not, and therefore quite simple. Confession: I'm winging it. Like dirty Mrs. Pigeon on the ledge across the alley.

Beet Chocolate Cake

Prepare 2 cups beet puree: boil three medium beets halfway covered in salted water till quite tender. Drain and let cool. Slide off their skins, chop them roughly, and toss them in your favorite pureeing device. I like the Foley food mill because it means I don't have to add water as I would in a wimpy blender.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9" round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment. Flour the sides.

Melt over medium heat:
1/2 lb butter
8 oz. unsweetened chocolate

Pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl and beat well with:
4 eggs
2 cups sugar

In another bowl, whisk together:
1.5 cups ordinary flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Gradually fold the flour into the chocolate, alternating with the beet puree.

Pour into the baking pans, smooth the tops, and bake until risen in the center and a toothpick comes out clean, somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes depending on the material of your pans and whether or not you have a kitchen timepiece. Cool briefly before removing the cakes from the pan and letting them cool completely on a rack.

Frost with a (mint?) buttercream or cream cheese frosting. It occurred to me afterwards that some lovely dramatic results could be achieved by putting beet puree in the frosting, too. Gold beet puree! I can't wait to make it again. And you know what? Because of all the eggs, the top has a lovely sheen, which the beets turn maroon. You might even serve the cake plain with whipped cream, or do a minimal see-through drizzled glaze job on it. I didn't allow myself enough time to be inventive more than twice. I curdled the first batch of buttercream by trying to simultaneously add Greek yogurt and answer the door -- at which point I started brandishing my whisk with a mad glint in my eye and everybody scampered till the cake got itself under control.


Ken Albala said...

If I understand correctly, I guess that means HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! is in order. Though I still have no idea what age you were alluding to with those arcane numerological references.


WCrawford said...

I never have understood such talk of math being 'arcane'.

Surely you are Able, but in this closemindedness you are Cane as well.

Though I may sound Adamant, Even a simple recollection of primes between 20 and 30 should suffice.

Caroline said...

HEY, Rosanna! You should get William to rustle up some feature wherein you can print the recipes (index cards??)... I've been fiddling around and there's no happy medium, as of yet, that doesn't consume lots of paper or cut off the R hand side of the recipe. Just a thought :)

Ben Hoffman said...

I made it! Right off the bat, this is probably the moistest, richest cake I've ever had. I wondered how the beet would taste with the chocolate. It did taste intriguing but at some spots it was a little too "beety". Thus is the nature of folding: some spots get more of the folded ingredient than others.

The next day, the beety flavor had subsided quite a lot. Do you know why this is? (Cause I do not. And I would like to.) Also, the cake wasn't quite as moist the second day. Still very good of course--just not wet.

I followed the parenthetical inquiry-suggestion, and made a cream cheese frosting with Creme de Menthe. It works very well with the cake. I should've made more than I did, though.

Oh btw I subbed wax paper for parchment and for all you who feel like me (that parchment is a word best relegated to either professional bakers or the 18th century), it worked like a charm.

Thanks Rosanna, for a delicious and fun project! I'm gonna backtrack through the blog from time to time and find more stuff to try.

Rosanna said...

Oh, good idea, Caroline! It's something your brother's been encouraging me to do, too. I'll work on that one.

Ben Hoffman said...

Okay, re-reading my comment I realize that the overall tone might come off as "less than happy" but that is NOT what I was intending. The beety flavor subsiding after a day was a very good thing, cause the cake was still rich.

And boy. I wish I had more descriptive words for texture. The first day, it was "extremely moist" (which was very good), and the second day it was "more normal but still pretty moist" (which was also very good).

Overall I liked it more the second day. Okay, now I'm done. :-)

Jennifer Jo said...

I posted about the cake. Thanks for such a good recipe.


Zach said...

Hi Rosanna! Happy Birthday! Somewhat belated I suppose, or early, seeing as how you'll soon be a perfect square. Tonight I made this cake (not for you, I must confess) and wow it's not bad. It's always a special kind of victory to cook something with weird ingredients that conforms to the mainstream taste-test standards of excellence. Have you ever heard of trying to make this cake with raw beets? It could be a challenge to puree them, but I'm hoping that the flavor will beet all. That's my next thing to try, unless you convince me otherwise. By the way, I'm aiming to pick blueberries at Dolly Sods in late July, before I head of to Carnegie Mellon. Will you be back east at all?

db said...

Just made the cake. Haven't iced it yet. I did add in some vanilla.