Thursday, 24 September 2009

Chocolate and Beetroot Cake

Chocolate and beetroot is one of those combinations that probably shouldn't work, but does. And really well too. Although it doesn't actually taste of beetroot (and by all means test this out by doing a "guess the secret ingredient" survey on friends and family), the cake has a background note of earthiness which really compliments the bitterness of the chocolate. This is not an overly sweet cake, so if, unlike me, you don't appreciate being hit round the face with the taste of chocolate then by all means reduce the amount by half, or substitute some of the dark chocolate for milk. Something like Green & Blacks milk chocolate would be good, but I think their new creamy milk wouldn't be chocolatey enough, even for the dark chocolate-shy. For the chocolate die-hards, I sometimes substitute 1 oz (25g) of flour for cocoa.

Although not a totally new flavour, chocolate and beetroot is still a bit of a frightening proposition for some. I can't pretend to be sympathetic towards anyone who is scared to try new flavours (you're only hurting yourselves, folks), but I can understand people thinking if they don't like beetroot, they won't like this cake. I think this could be a turning point for the beetroot-phobic amongst you though, and this recipe can help get rid of some of the excess you get over the autumn months if you have an organic veg box delivered.

The beetroot gives the cake quite an exciting colour when cut, and you'll have purply smears and stains all over your plate by the time you've finished eating it. It keeps for ages in a tin and is still completely fine after a week, although it's unlikely to last that long...

Chocolate and Beetroot Cake

Preheat the oven to 180C (or 160 Fan Assisted) and grease and line a loaf tin or 7" loose-bottomed round.


For Cake

10 oz (250g or 2 and a half bars) of dark chocolate.
2 - 3 beetroots
2 oz (50g) light muscovado sugar
2 oz (50g) dark muscovado sugar
4 oz (100g) golden caster sugar
3 1/2 fl. oz (100ml) sunflower oil
A splash of vanilla extract
3 large eggs
4 oz self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 oz (50g) brazil nuts
A pinch of salt

For icing

2 oz melted dark chocolate, cooled but still a bit warm
3 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 oz icing sugar, sifted
splash of vanilla


For the cake
  • Rinse the beetroots (you don't need to peel them at this stage), place in a saucepan of boiling water and simmer gently until soft. This can take quite a while, but keep an eye on it and top up the water from the kettle if need be, just so that the beets are covered.
  • Once the beetroots are soft (check by inserting a knife or skewer), remove from the pan and set aside on a cold plate to cool.
  • In the meantime, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over barely simmering water and leave to cool slightly.
  • Either blitz the brazil nuts in a food processor until you have a fine powder or stick them in a bag and bash them with a rolling pin.
  • Place the sugars and oil in a bowl and whisk until combined, add the egg a bit at a time, continually whisking, until the mixture is pale and creamy. Add in the ground brazil nuts and a pinch of salt and stir in.
  • Wearing rubber gloves so you don't stain your hands, remove the top and tail of the beetroots and carefully peel them; the skin should come away quite easily. Chop them up and blend them in a food processor until smooth, or attack them with a masher.
  • Mix in the chocolate and beetroot to the sugar and egg mixture.
  • Sift over the dry ingredients and fold in until everything is well combined.
  • Pour the cake mixture into your prepared tin and bake on the middle shelf for about an hour and 15 minutes. Cover the top with greaseproof paper or foil halfway through cooking if the top is browning too quickly.
  • To check the cake is done, insert a metal skewer to see if it comes out clean.
  • Leave the cake in the tin and place it on a wire rack to cool.
For icing:
  • Place the chocolate, butter and vanilla extract in a bowl. Sift over the icing sugar and whisk until all the ingredients are well combined and the icing is glossy and thick.
  • Turn the cooled cake out of its tin on to a serving plate and spread the icing on top with a palate knife.


  1. Victoria...if I were to try making this cake tomorrow, would it keep in an ordinary cake tin (aka a quality street tin) and still be fresh and moist on Friday? And if I want to cover it with a chocolate icing do I do that on the day it is made, or the day it is to be eaten?

  2. Hi Jane,

    It will still be delicious on Friday if you make the cake today as long as it is kept in an airtight tin. I'd ice the cake today too as it will help lock in moisture.