Thursday, December 31, 2009

Just "Beet" it, 2010 ... DAY 7

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!

I am too tongue-tied and lost for words, so I am going to let Nigel do the talking:

"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. 

You need:

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
5 eggs
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.


Anonymous said...

You can't go wrong with chocolate.You put the right foot forward Sheetal to step into the New year! Are you drinking the cooking wine gal or is the beetroot intoxicating?Pass me a slice or two...

indosungod said...

Happy New Year! Sheetal.

What a finale!. Love this chocolate beet cake. Can't go wrong with that.

Madhu said...

What a way to end the year and the Marathon.. Looks so moist and delicious..
A very Happy new years to u too.Sheetal.

Nupur said...

Oh that looks ridiculously good! Thank you for playing along with the marathon with your stories and recipes, it was lovely of you to participate. Happy New Year!

bee said...

gorgeous. have a great new year.

Rujuta said...

Hi! Saw your blog through your comment...thank god for that otherwise I would have seriously missed an amazingly delicious cake recipe.....Your blog is great and the photos divine and your story too good...... Wishing you and your family A Very Happy & Prosperous New Year!

ruchikacooks said...

chocolate and beet root gives a gorgeous color..havent heard of that combination till now but glad I read about it here.

Siri said...

Chocolate & Beet!!.. a yummy way to end the marathon :) Dear Sheetal - Wishing you and your family a very Happy and Joyous 2010.


Koki said...

I have never liked beetroot probably pairing it with chocolate might help... Will try this for sure...
Wonderful idea thanks for the recipe.. It looks so gooood
Happy new year to you. As you said will love to continue sharing stories and recipes with you always... This marathon has given me so many friends thanks to nupur

Sonia said...

Great & sweet post on Marathon and year finale!!! :) Loved your writing and recipe too. And my look so gorgeous and beautiful!!!
Truly speaking, your pics are killer and much better than Nigel Slater's pic. :)
HAPPY NEW YEAR to you too gal!

Sayantani said...

Thats incredible Sheetal. Beetroot cake i could not have come up with. lovely recipe and that looks devilishly yummy.
thanks for trying my Moglai parota glad that both of you enjoyed it.
Happy new year to you and your family.

Linda said...

Sheetal, I am no baker, but this is already bookmarked. I bet I could make it with canned beets ;)

Loved the post and happy to have met you through the 'marathon' -- wishing you all good things in the new year!

Anjali said...

This post is almost like a escapade. I would have never thought beets would go into cakes. Bookmarked it Sheetal thanks for the treasure lead.

Lavanya said...

This looks soo yummy- my mouth is watering..

Happy New year, Sheetal!

Mathangi said...

Beautiful beautiful cake; enough said! Can you mail me some NOW? Sheetal, you are rocking 2010 already.

It's been so nice getting to blog-know you and I look forward to more exchanges over 2010. Have a wonderful wonderful new year.

Ashwini said...

Wow, that is so awesome!! What a combination Sheetal!! I am simply awestruck, beetroot and a divine chocolate cake! DECADENT is the word!!

Vinaya said...


My sincere-st apologies for the delay in getting back to you..(I was busy the last few days with a personal commitment but am back now).

I LOVEDDDD the beetroot cake idea and plan to make it soon :)

A very very happy new year to you..I hope to come back to your site to read about your wonderful recipes and ideas. Best wishes!

? said...

Interesting recipe; wonderful colors, would like to try it out!

Spice said...

HAve a great new year.....It looks so I have to make this but i'll tweak it little bit to make it eggless.....

notyet100 said...

ummmmm,..:-)waiting for ur next post

rachel said...

neat read your post makes :)
Choc and beet.never my to make list now.

Kate/Kajal said...

Ahh that's a perfect looking slice of chocolate heaven
Wish you a fabulous 2010 !

ruchikacooks said...

Oh! Thats so lovely! I still grind in a mixie u know :)
Your son is gonna love it ..its addictive and you may have to make more :)

If you dont mind me saying this: keep the batter in warm oven..else its not gonna ferment given the weather..Kiddo has to have his best ones :)

Will surely check back here next week...(provided you are gonna send me some, I cant say No to them too)

Sheetal Kiran said...

Susvaad: Both ;) Sent you a couple, my dear :D

Indo, Madhu, Bee, Siri, Lavanya: Wish you a spectacular year ahead, as well!

Nupur: Thank you so much for letting me play ... I had an absolute blast, and loved, loved, loved every day and minute of your fabulous marathon! Wish you a fab 2010, as well!

Rujuta: Thank you! I hope to run into you oftener than often, hope you like the cake when you get to try it!

Ruchikacooks: Yeah, I love the gorgeous deep color that beets can imbue ... that combined with the chocolate was very decadent, even if I may say so myself!

Until recently, I thought the grinder was good enough for the idli-dosa batter, but after a recent pot-luck where one of our friends served up the most fluffy idlis ever, I was convinced I need to get the right gear. I need only an excuse to get new kitchen equipment, anyway! I am going to keep them in the oven, as you mentioned, my friend suggested the same. And if they turn out as fabulous as yours ... a dabba is on the way :D

Koki: I swear you won't even know the beetroot exists ... it lends this wonderful moistness and a subtle sweetness to the bitter chocolate, instead. Wish you a fab, fab year ahead!

Sonia: Thank you so much ... my husband didn't think too much of Slater's photos ... so he's going to be very happy to hear this ;)

Sayantani: I really like the combination too :D Hope you like it as well! That Moglai parota was beyond delicious ... more than loved it! Thank you so much! Wish you a great, new year too!

Linda: I think the canned beets would cut the whole pressure-cooking step right there! Hope you like it! Wishing you a brilliant new year ahead as well!

Anjali: Me neither. It was a happy lead for me as well :D hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Mathangi: A fed-ex is on the way, my dear! Looking forward to more blog-nobbing with you in 2010!

Ashwini: Thanks! I was totally in awe of by its moistness too :D

Vinaya: Absolutely no worries! I am so glad you loved the cake, and hope it turns out great! I look forward to getting to know you better too! Cheers and the warmest wishes to you and yours!

?: Hope it turns out wonderfully!

Spice: Wish you a great, great 2010, as well! Eggless, huh! That has such potential ... do, let me know how it turns out without eggs, I would love to give it a whirl!

Notyet100: Coming up! (hopefully soon) :D

Rachel: Thanks! Hope you like it!

Kate/Kajal: Thank you! Wish you a lovely year ahead too!

Srivalli said...

Hi, thats quite a challenge you have already...can you please drop me a mail for the ICC..

Rachana Kothari said...

Dear Sheetal,
Wow! beet root and chocolate! A unique combination indeed...I loved yr post. A very unique (again) way to end the year and the marathon:)
A very happy new year!
Cheers and do visit,

Pari said...

Hi Sheetal, I am surprised at myself how did I miss ur blog for so long. The cake looks amazingly soft. I always love to add fruits and veggies to my cakes, this I am surely saving.
Do drop by and check out my space.
Providing you the link

Cynthia said...

Happy New Year!

SE said...

first time here...this looks wonderful a combination of beet and chocolate...a must try !

Andhra Flavors said...

that chocolate beet cake look so delicious.

s said...

chocolate always gets a thumbs up from me..i have been reading ur blog for a while now but this is my first comment...also wanted to pass on an award to it...its on my blog:)

Radhika said...

Hi Sheetal, just saw this and it looks amazing!

Simran said...

What a grand finale to the year! I'm still to try baking with beets, but you are tempting me.

Sheetal Kiran said...

Srivalli: Done! Sorry about that!

Rachana: Thanks much! I sure will :)

Pari: Thanks for dropping in! I hope to see you again :D

Cynthia: Wish you the same, my dear!

SE: Thanks for dropping in! Hope you like how it turns out!

Andhra Flavors: You said it! I savored it for days :D

S: Thanks you so much! That's so sweet of you! I hope to see you soon!

Radhika: Doesn't it? (Am I modest or what ;)

Simran: Yep, it was really a fitting way to say goodbye to 2009, even if I may say so myself. You should try it ... it was my first time baking with beetroot too, and it doesn't disappoint!

Kiran said...

Hi Sheetal,
you are back to your writing best and your cake looks so delightfully yummmmmy. For now though I will have to sleep, contented with the two fat mooli parathas I had for dinner.May be your cake will come kingsize in my dreams and I will have it all without sharing it with anyone!!!!!! Cheers to that!!

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