We’re getting lots of beetroot in our weekly veg box at the moment. And that is a very good thing as I have come to rather like beetroot in recent years. Whereas once I’d automatically roast them in the oven and serve alongside a roast joint, I’ve discovered just how versatile the humble beetroot can be. It’s wonderful raw in winter slaws or sweet and sour salads, partners well with a tangy goat’s cheese in a simple tart, and it’s incredible juiced with carrot and lots of ginger.
Beetroot is also fantastic in cakes and has a natural affinity with chocolate. These brownies for example always go down well with my children and are so incredibly moist and gooey. So when I saw an Abel and Cole recipe for a beetroot and chocolate cake which also used fresh ginger and ground cardamom, I knew I had to give it a go at the earliest opportunity.
At the weekend we all went to London to stay with my Dad and Step Mum, or as they’re known to the kids, Grandad Chris and Nana Sue. Since Nana Sue had treated us to her heavenly clementine polenta cake the last time they came to stay with us in Somerset, I felt it only polite to return the favour by taking some tasty homemade offering. And of course it had to be this chocolate, beetroot and ginger concoction.
After a lovely Sunday morning brunch in Highgate, followed by a walk up Parliament Hill to look out over the hazy London skyline, a couple of games of What’s the Time Mister Wolf? and some tree-climbing and green-parakeet-spotting, a cup of coffee and a slice of cake was very much required. While my Dad looked a little dubious at first, the chocolate, beetroot and ginger cake seemed to go down with all, children and adults alike – even Dad, with the whole family making lots of positive mmmmming noises as they got stuck in.
As well as using fresh ginger in the cake itself, the Abel and Cole version also adds ginger to the mascarpone topping, along with orange zest. I opted to leave these out, and I’m glad I did as I think a calmer, creamy topping acted as a perfect foil for the spicy cake.
Spicy chocolate and beetroot cake
150g cooked beetroot
150g dark chocolate
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
6 cardamom pods, seeds extracted and ground to a powder
125g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
200g soft butter
150g caster sugar
100g mascarpone cheese
200g cream cheese
75g icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
Puree the cooked beetroot in a food processor. Pop into a bowl along with the dark chocolate, broken into pieces, and heat gently in a microwave for a minute or two until the chocolate has melted.
Combine the chocolate and beetroot well, then mix in the grated ginger and cardamom powder. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Separate the eggs. Beat the yolks with the butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy. Whisk the whites until they form stiff peaks.
Gently fold the egg yolk and butter mixture into the flour. Then gently fold in the egg whites, a spoonful at a time. Finally stir in the beetroot and chocolate mixture.
Grease an 18cm cake tin with butter and dust with flour. Pour the cake mix into the tin. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. You want it be a little soft and gooey in the middle. Leave to cool on a wire tray before removing from the tin.
To make the topping, simply put the mascarpone and cream cheese into a large bowl and sieve in the icing sugar. Mix together well. When the cake is cool, use a palette knife to spread over the mascarpone topping. Dig in!
As this cake features both chocolate and ginger, I’m entering it into February’s We Should Cocoa, a blog challenge created by Chocolate Teapot and Chocolate Log Blog, and hosted this month by Blue Kitchen Bakes.