I came across an old, mini bundt tin while perusing a thrift store in San Francisco. Before our vacation we made a decision to be frugal with our shopping, avoiding it as much a possible. There was one condition that Jesse agreed on – vintage kitchenware could not be passed up.
So when I stumbled upon an old, slightly rusty bundt tin amongst piles of trash at a thrift store I knew it would be squeezing itself into my suitcase. A little persuasion (I’ll stuff it with socks and you’ll never notice!) and Jesse agreed.
Ever since, I have found myself turning full sized cakes into smaller, gourmet delights, perfect for sharing with another couple at our dinner parties. Halving a full size (20cm) cake makes for a perfect 4 – 6 person cake (6 if you eat like a lady, 4 if you eat like me). With the celebration of love approaching I have been seeking a red velvet cake, tinted a real red, extracted from fresh beets. Moist from fresh beets. Sweet from fresh beets. I wanted a simple recipe, not as heavy as Joy The Baker’s, not quite as health-conscious as Sonia at The Healthy Foodie’s.
I wanted real, dark chocolate, melted into a thick, rich pool. A shot of espresso mixed in. A light, fluffy batter with whipped egg whites folded in right before baking. I wanted whole beets, not just the juice, but the fibre and moistness they bring to a cake. I wanted yoghurt to top. Strained until thick and creamy, whipped with a little sugar until lightly sweetened. Dolloped atop, with wedges of fresh fruit. I wanted friends to fellowship with, a small gathering of likeminded southerners, uniting in a warm home on an extremely cold evening, with a warm meal and a moist rich cake.
Dark Chocolate Beet Cake
Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz, originally from Tender by Nigel Slater.
Makes 1 small cake, serves 4 – 6, it could definitely be stretched to 8
We like our chocolate dark, with little added sugar, so I chose to use a dark chocolate with 72% cocoa solids. Use whichever chocolate you prefer to eat. I also like the darker, natural cocoa powder and used a fairly large amount (2 Tbsp). This created a very dark cake, with a less distinct red tinge than that of the typical, artificially-colored red velvet cake.
2 medium sized beets, rinsed and scrubbed free of dirt (no need to peel)
100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao solids), chopped
scant 2 tablespoons hot espresso (or water)
100g butter, cubed
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (the darkest you can find)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
pinch of salt
1/2 cup superfine sugar (castor sugar)
3/4 cup yoghurt
2 tbsp icing sugar
fresh fruit, sliced
1. Lightly grease a small bundt pan, or 10cm cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Boil the beets in salted water with the lid askew until they’re very tender when you stick a knife in them, about 45 minutes. Drain then rinse the beets with cold water. When cool enough to handle, slip off the skin, cut the beets into chunks, and grind them in a food processor until you get a coarse, yet cohesive, puree. (If you don’t have a food processor, use a cheese grater.)
3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). In a large bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate. Remove from the head. Add the butter and the hot espresso and stir until melted.
5. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a separate bowl.
6. When chocolate mix has cooled, beat the egg yolks lightly and mix them into the melted chocolate mixture. Fold in the beet puree.
7. Whip the egg whites until stiff, gradually adding the sugar. Using a spatula, fold them into the melted chocolate mixture, being careful not to overmix.
8. Fold in the flour and cocoa powder.
9. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and reduce the heat of the oven to 325ºF (160ºC). Bake the cake for 40 minutes, or until the sides are just set but the center is still slightly wobbly. Be careful not to overbake!
Let cake cool completely, then remove it from the pan.
Strain the yoghurt for 1 hour or so in a sieve lined with cheesecloth, or a paper towel. Discard the whey. Beat the yoghurt with a fork to fluff up, adding icing sugar until desired sweetness is attained.