Tuesday, November 23, 2010

God Save the Beets!

My beloved friend Jay has a husband named Greg, and they have a darling little four-year-old boy named Clark. Jay is a writer and works from home, and Greg...well...Greg (like Chandler Bing) has a job that nobody really understands, but has something to do with computer systems training and causes him to travel a lot all over the world. Usually Jay and Clark hold down the fort at home in Chicago, but recently, they got to accompany Daddy Greg to London for two weeks. While there, Jay sampled a cake made with beets that had a poppyseed glaze that he really fancied. It sounded quite vile to me, as I loathe beets, but Jay said it really tasted very similar to carrot cake, but without the heavy cream cheese frosting, which he feels can overwhelm a cake. (Baker's Note: Jay is ridiculous in this opinion! The only reason to eat carrot cake is for the cream cheese frosting...SHEESH!)

Nevertheless, I took up the challenge to help Jay recreate a beetroot cake back home across the Pond. I found a recipe from Nigel Slater online, and I converted it to American ingredients and measurements from British. Other than needing a little more sugar (to suit our American tastebuds) and a tad more salt, my cakes turned out quite tasty, and as Jay promised, with very little beet-y flavor. I amended the recipe to reflect the necessary additions, and here's what I ended up with:

Beetroot Cake with Poppyseed Glaze
(Source: adapted from Nigel Slater on Tender Recipes)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I swapped out one cup of white whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed (I used light)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/8 cups raw beets, grated (I used red and golden beets, about one pound total)
juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sultanas or raisins (ick! optional!)
1/2 cup mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, linseed)

for the icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
lemon juice or orange blossom water
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Set the oven at 350F. Lightly butter a rectangular loaf tin (20cm x9cm x 7cm deep, measured across the bottom) then line the bottom with baking parchment. (I just used flour-added spray on a glass pan, and it came out perfectly.)

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Beat the oil and sugar in a food mixer until well creamed then introduce the beaten egg yolks one by one, reserving the whites for later. (I did this in a regular bowl and whisked by hand.)

Grate the beets coarsely and fold into the mixture then add the lemon juice, raisins or sultanas and the assorted seeds. Fold the flour and raising agents into the mixture whilst the machine is turning slowly. Beat the egg whites until light and almost stiff. Fold gently but thoroughly into the mixture using a large metal spoon (a wooden one will knock the air out).

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 50-55 minutes, covering the to with a piece of tin foil after 30 minutes. Test with a skewer for doneness. The cake should be moist inside but not sticky. Leave the cake to settle for a good 20 minutes before turning out of its tin on to a wire cooling rack.

Make the icing. Sieve the powdered sugar and stir in enough lemon juice or orange blossom water to achieve a consistency where the icing will run over the top of the cake and dribble slowly down the sides (about one tablespoon), stirring to remove any lumps. Drizzle over the cake and scatter with poppy seeds (I just mixed the poppyseeds into the glaze and poured it over). Leave to set before eating.

1 comment:

Kitty said...

My children adore beetroot, they will just have it for an afternoon snack: cooked, cubed up then marinated with red wine vinegar. They'd eat a pound of it each, if I let them.

That sounds delicious, actually! And rather as carrots or courgettes (zucchini) don't really TASTE like vegetables in a finished cake, nor does pumpkin for that matter, I'm sure this is the same!
Definitely putting this in my *To Bake* list for this week!

Oh, and the penchant for dumping raisins or sultanas into any cake going is oh-so-British. They do it with Carrot Cake, grosses me out. Yeck. But then that's what the *Spotted* is in Spotted Dick steamed pudding: raisins, you know...