Chocolate and Beetroot Cake


It was my mother who first introduced me to chocolate cake – much to my school friend’s envy, as she baked them for school lunch boxes, afternoon tea and birthday parties. She was also the first to introduce me to ‘real’ beetroot, the wholefood you harvest out of the ground and cook yourself, rather than the sweetened slices you buy in a can. Turns out chocolate and beetroot are a really good match in a cake. Be warned though you will end up with lolly-pink stained fingers making this cake!

serves 8-10

what you need
125g butter, at room temperature, chopped
1 cup (150g) rapadura sugar
finely grated zest of 1 orange
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups (260g) white spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup (30g) cocoa powder
1 cup (220g) grated beetroot
½ cup (125ml) natural yoghurt
orange butter icing:
90g butter, softened
300g golden icing sugar
3 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp finely grated dark chocolate, to serve

what you do
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced). Lightly grease a 20cm (base measurement) round cake tin and line the base with non-stick baking paper.
2. Using electric beaters, beat the butter, sugar and zest until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Add the flour, baking powder, cocoa, beetroot and yoghurt and gently mix through. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, until springy to a gentle touch in the centre.
Stand in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
4. To make the icing beat the butter, golden icing sugar and orange juice with electric beaters on a low speed until the mixture comes together. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes until smooth and creamy.
5. Spread the icing over the cooled cake. Sprinkle grated chocolate over the top and cut into wedges to serve.

Note: Icing is a celebration food - a sometimes food! When making my own I use a golden icing (confectioners’) sugar, which is a semi-refined sugar. It is far less sweet, more beige in colour than pure icing sugar and paired with butter makes a delicious fluffy, creamy finish to any cake.

beetroot is the taproot of the beet plant. Traditionally a deep purple colour inside and out, there are now varieties popping up that are golden, lolly pink and candy striped on the inside. Bursting with rich colour and a sweet, earthy flavour, beetroot is a fabulous support act to many dishes. Its nutritional perks come particularly from vitamins, minerals, fibre and unique plant-derived antioxidants. Beetroot is also very low in calories and has zero cholesterol. 

© Recipe - Our Delicious Adventure - Recipes and Stories of Food and Travel by Jane Grover