Considering, how much I enjoy to bake, it's odd that I have never posted a from-the-scratch-sweat-in-your-pants, kind-of-recipe. What better than the last day of the year to rectify the anomaly, though. Ah the beauty of Dec 31st!
So, I thought long and hard. After, browsing through folder after folder, going over countless bookmarked recipes, and generally littering the living room with cookbook-upon-cookbook, I finally had several halogen bulbs light up over my head. Much like a halo, I might add. A chocolate-beet-root cake! What could be better than to pump some betaine to get the good, ol' liver in shape? Besides, I rationalized, this is the time to start things on the right foot. Knowing me, I will be on the other foot, faster than New Year revelers, down Tequila shots (and yell TEQUILLLA ... burrrp ... hick-kee-ick), anyway.
Thusly, (Thanks Alton, only you can make archaic words sound cool), began the frantic search for a beet-root recipe. My criteria was simple: I wanted it to be chocolate-beet-root-so-good-you-forget-to-swoon-yummy; I'd heard realms about beetroot cakes being gooey, moist and orgasmic-good-in the mouth. A must; And, lastly, it had to be simple.
The procastinating czarina that I am, obviously, there was neither recipe, nor file on hand. After, much googling, and ogling I found Nigel Slater, who I had only passingly heard of, before. Why I didn't bother to research someone who writes like this -- "I have always felt that a recipe should be something to inspire, remind and lightly influence rather than a set of instructions to be followed, pedantically, to the letter. Here, I offer a few ideas for the season, the sort of simple everyday stuff I eat at home," -- I will never know! The British have such, a pro-pahhly, charming way with words. And oh, my! The photographs on his website have me in a tizzy! So, sensuous, earthy and b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l!
"There is something quietly civilizing about sharing a meal with other people. The simple act of making someone something to eat, even a bowl of soup or a loaf of bread, has a many-layered meaning. It suggests an act of protection and caring, of generosity and intimacy. It is in itself a sign of respect."
This is how the man describes spring and its flavors, "Clean, bright flavours - rhubarb, lemons, light, young goat's cheeses - are what appeal to me at this time of year. There is something uplifting about those first few meals out of doors, the first wild salmon at the market, the froth of white blossom against a clear blue sky. My cooking becomes lighter, fresher, sharper as soon as the sun starts shining."
Have dropped unconscious on the floor.
How, how, how? How does someone write so, so, so ... have no words.
So light. So fresh. So clean.
Ok. I realize you are probably waiting for me to snap out of it. Before, the husband comes with his smelly socks to do the needful, I think I ought to do so myself.
Sigh! So, long Nigel Slater. Even his name sounds sexy.
Needless, to say I jumped (no pun intended. Really. Giving wicked grin) on his chocolate-beetroot recipe, much like Scrat on nut. I know Scrat comes up a lot on Eats, but I just love that pre-historic squirrel. Maybe, it's that look in his eyes that I identify so much with. My sister thinks I look exactly like that when I go shopping (Need I say it? For shoes obviously, just in case you are new around here).
♣ Gone in 60 seconds!
"The beetroot is subtle here, some might say elusive, but it is a lot cheaper than ground almonds and blends perfectly with chocolate. This is a seductive cake, deeply moist and tempting." (Between mouthfuls), Tefaw mwah abwa it, (tell me about it)!
“... It is true that I am rarely happier than when making chocolate cake."(Me toooo, Nigel, honey!) "I especially like baking those that manage to be cake-like on the outside and almost molten within. Keeping a cake’s heart on the verge of oozing is down partly to timing and partly to the ingredients – ground almonds and very good-quality chocolate will help enormously. But there are other ways to moisten a cake, such as introducing grated carrots or, in this case, crushed beetroot ...
"... The serving suggestion of crème fraîche is not just a nod to the soured cream so close to beetroot’s Eastern European heart, it is an important part of the cake."
mmmmm ... hmm ... hmmm!!!! That's all I gotta say.
Nigel's moist chocolate-beetroot cake
I am re-writing, and re-arranging some of the steps, as originally given, simply because AM found some of the instructions, confusing. (Rolling eyes.) Oh bother! Original recipe here.
250g beetroot (I took about 2 medium-sized ones)
200g fine, dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa solids)
4 tbsp hot espresso
200g butter (happened to chance upon Grade AA butter, would have never thought butter has grades!)
135g plain flour
A heaped tsp baking powder
3 tbsp good-quality cocoa powder
190g golden caster sugar (I used Turbinado raw sugar)
creme fraiche and poppy seeds, to serve
"Lightly butter a 20cm (8-inch) loose-bottomed (spring-form) cake tin, and line the base with a disc of baking parchment. Set the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 (350F).
"Cook the beetroot, whole and un-peeled, in boiling unsalted water." (I had no patience to wait around for half-an-hour, so I pressure-cooked them for three whistles, instead). "Depending on their size, they will be knifepoint tender within 30-40 minutes. Young ones may take slightly less. Drain them, let them cool under running water, then peel them, slice out their stem and root, and blitz to a rough puree."
Now he gets a bit muddle-some. Or so says AM. So, let's re-arrange and re-word.
"Sift together the flour, baking powder, and cocoa. Separate the eggs; put the whites in a mixing bowl. Stir the yolks together."
"Cut the butter into small pieces -- the smaller the better," and set aside.
Nigel, asks to whisk the egg-whites later, but I found that hard in between other multi-tasking. So, "whisk the egg-whites until stiff, then fold in the sugar," and set aside.
"Snap the chocolate into pieces," and melt it, "in a small bowl, resting over a pot of simmering water. Don't stir. When the chocolate looks almost melted, pour the hot espresso over it, and stir once."
"Add the butter pieces to melted chocolate," pressing it down, "under the surface of the chocolate with a spoon, and leave to soften."
Once the butter has softened, "quickly but gently, remove the chocolate bowl from the heat, stirring until the butter has melted into the chocolate. Leave for a few minutes, then stir in the egg-yolks; mix firmly so the eggs blend into the mixture."
"Fold in the beetroot. Firmly, but tenderly, fold the whisked," egg-whites-sugar, "into the chocolate mixture. A large metal spoon is what you want; work in deep, figure-of-eight movements, but take care not to over-mix."
"Fold in the flour and cocoa."
"Transfer to the prepared cake tin," place in the oven, "and turn the "heat down immediately to 160C/gas mark 3/320F. Bake for 40 minutes." (It took me exactly that much time to bake), but ovens tend to vary. So, set the timer for 35 minutes, and check on the cake thereon.
Once done, "the rim of the cake will feel spongy, the inner part should still wobble a little, when gently shaken."
"Leave to cool (it will sink a tad in the centre), loosening it around with a palette knife after half-an-hour, or so. It is not a good idea to remove the cake from its tin, until it's completely cold." I kept it to cool overnight.
"Serve in thick slices, with creme fraiche and poppy seeds."
To reach nirvana, creme fraiche is a MUST on this cake. Talk later. Eat now.
Hapwwy Nwee Wuer (Happy New Year)!!! This is going as my final entry to Nupur's marathon at One Hot Stove.
Sourdough Scallion Pancakes - Last summer I started my sourdough experiments all over again. Six years ago I had grown and maintained my first starter for quite some time but it fell ou...