Having spend most of the last three months in NY (with a visit to Botswana in between), I am now back in my own kitchen, here in London.
I have to admit, that I did become one of those New Yorkers who doesn’t bother cooking or baking. But why would you when the choice for eating out, delivery and deli food is so great. I loved the food markets, especially the weekly Smorgasburg in Dumbo…I loved the fact that you can get dessert at midnight, if you go to the Chocolate Room…I loved the American bbq joints… the cheap Chinese dim sum… the great Mexicans tacos…
And as for brunch – oh, how I’ll miss my weekly girlfriend brunch outings. My favourite brunch place overall was probably Bobo in Chelsea but I will tell you about that another time.
Right now, I want to share the first cake I made this year with you. Since it’s January and everyone (apart from me) seems to be on some new year’s resolution healthy eating scheme, I wanted to make something a little less loaded with sugar and fat and decided a chocolate beetroot cake is the way to go.
It might sound strange but is actually one of my most popular cakes. It’s lighter than a regular chocolate cake, probably as it contains neither butter nor chocolate but features sunflower oil and cocoa powder instead.
The icing is another story, of course. If you really want a healthier, reduced calorie cake you have to omit it, though you could maybe drizzle it with some plain melted chocolate instead. But I think, the taste of the sweet white icing on top of the dark cake is worth the extra calories. It also turns a plainer cake, that’s not too heavy and can therefore be eaten for brunch, in to a celebration cake, especially if you make enough icing for the top and a layer for within the cake.
Either way, it’s super easy to make but you will need ready cooked beetroot (NOT the pickled vinegar one, of course) and a blender!
For the cake you’ll need:
- 180ml sunflower oil, plus more for the tin
- 190g self-raising flour
- 60g cocoa powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 250g (golden) caster sugar
- 250g beetroot, cooked
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- a blender
- a round tin at the size of 18cm min – 23cm max
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and line your cake tin – both sides and bottom – with baking parchment
Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa and sugar in one big bowl.
In your blender, purée the beetroot, eggs and vanilla. Then slowly pour in the oil, while the motor is running on the slowest speed (make sure it really is on a slow setting and don’t take the lid of fully, or you may end up with a red kitchen…). Pour the beetroot mixture into the dry ingredients and gently combine by folding them together with a bit spoon or spatula.
Pour into the cake tin and bake for 40–50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
After removing it from the oven, leave it for 5–10 minutes in the tin, then turn it out on to a wire rack and peel the lining off to let it cool completely.
For the icing you’ll need:
(Note, that if you want enough icing for a sandwich cake, with a thick layer in the middle, you’ll have to double the quantities)
- 25g white chocolate
- 100g cream cheese, softened
- 50g unsalted butter, softened
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 250g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp whipping cream
Melt the white chocolate carefully in the microwave by using a low setting and checking it every 4 seconds. Stir until smooth, and allow to cool back to room temperature.
In the meantime, whisk together the cream cheese and butter with an electric whisk until smooth, then mix in the melted white chocolate and vanilla essence.
Finally beat in the icing sugar and cream, again with an electric whisk until fluffy.
Spread the cake and let it set in the fridge for at least an hour – but note, that before eating you want the cake back to room temperature, so the icing isn’t too hard!