Today marks the last day of winter. Beetroot, a sweet and earthy root vegetable, sings of winter, and rich, decadent roasts. However, the deep pink stains that it cries upon contact sing to the pops of colour that emerge with spring. It’s arguably, a trans-seasonal vegetable. With my Polish upbringing, beetroot was commonly used in dishes throughout my growing up, mostly used as a sweet touch to rich meals. With this in mind, I decided to take the beetroot, and make it the centre-piece of a light chocolate cake to bring in spring. The earthiness of the beetroot carries the chocolate especially well, and the vanilla bean cream cheese frosting gives it enough creaminess to bring it together, without making it a heavy cake.
250g raw beetroots, peeled and finely grated
A piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
4 eggs, separated
250g good quality dark chocolate, melted
Juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
120ml olive oil
250g plain flour, sifted
2 teaspoons of baking powder
100g brown sugar
Vanilla bean cream cheese frosting
125g unsalted butter, softened
200g full-fat cream cheese
250g icing sugar, sifted
1 vanilla bean
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Beat the egg yolks with the brown sugar until creamy. Stir in the beetroot, ginger, olive oil, raisins, orange juice, and cinnamon and nutmeg. Then add the melted chocolate. Once combined, add in the flour and baking powder, and stir to combine well. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, and fold into the beetroot mixture.
Transfer the mixture into a prepared tin, and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a cake skewer is inserted into the centre and comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and leave to cool completely.
To make the frosting, in a mixer, beat the butter for about 4-5 minutes. Add the cream cheese and vanilla bean, and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the icing sugar, and continue to beat for another 2-3 minutes, until the frosting is smooth and even.
Once the cake has cooled completely, spread the cake with the frosting.