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EAT IT // Beet Cake

Friday, March 30, 2012

Beets are sexy these days. Lately, everywhere I eat, beets are on the menu. It sounds weird, but beets are kind of an amazing vegetable. They're a tangy mix of sweetness and bitterness, causing them to compliment lots of other foods.

Beets taste crazy good with goat cheese.
Beats love being paired with vinaigrette.
Beets with bacon? Yum.
And beets taste surprisingly delicious with chocolate and sugar. (Yea, you read that right.)

Some genius had the idea to add shredded beets into a chocolate cake recipe... which i got, and made, and loved (as did my friends.)

This was the first time I'd roasted beets myself - and it was surprisingly easy (normally I buy the pre-roasted, peeled version from TJ's.) I just covered them in oil, wrapped them in tin foil, and roasted them for a full hour. When they came out they were a beautiful, purply-red color (which promptly transferred to my hands.)

The cake (basic chocolate) and frosting (a cream cheese/butter cream hybrid) were easy, they just called for the unique addition of the beets. Oh, I forgot - yep, the frosting was beet-flavored too (which was nice because I didn't have to use any food coloring.)

I'm not much of a cake-maker; cupcakes are actually more of my forte. So, I know this next tip is cake-making 101: but make sure you wait until the cake layers are COMPLETELY cooled. I usually get too impatient and start frosting while they're warm which causes the frosting to... melt (see below.) 

The frosting wasn't the only thing to "melt" at this point. Luckily I have a husband who's quick on his feet. He threw the cake in the freezer and soothed my panic in a matter of seconds. (Wait, does that make me sound crazy? Oh. Well, I am.)

In the end, I was able to salvage my creation - which was a hit at that night's party. Beets, you've done me good.

Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes one 8 or 9-inch layer cake
From Joy the Baker

For the Cake: 
2 medium beets, unpeeled but trimmed of their greens
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pans
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

For the Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces (1 brick) cream cheese, softened
4 to 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons finely grated beets, mashed with a fork
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or scrapings of one vanilla bean pod
1-2 teaspoons milk, depending on desired consistency
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt

Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Thoroughly wash beets under running water, and trim their leaves, leaving about 1/2 inch of stem.  Place clean beets in a piece of foil.  Drizzle with just a bit of vegetable oil.  Seal up foil.  Place on a baking sheet in the oven.  Roast until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour.
Remove the beets from the oven.  Open the foil and allow beets to cool completely.  Beets will be easy to peel (just using a paring knife) once completely cooled.
Using a box grater, grate the peeled beets on the finest grating plane.  Measure 3/4 cup of grated beets for the cake and 2 tablespoons for the frosting.  Set aside.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.  Use butter to grease two 8 or 9-inch round baking pans.  Trace a piece of parchment paper so it is the same size as the bottom of the cake pan.  Cut it out and place inside the cake pan.  Butter the parchment paper.  Add a dusting of flour to coat the pan.  Set pans aside while you prepare the cake.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars.  Beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, for one minute after each addition.   Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Once eggs are incorporated, beat in beets and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture.  Beating on low speed , slowly add the buttermilk.  Once just incorporated, add the other half of the dry ingredients.  Beat on medium speed until milk and dry ingredients are just incorporated.  Try not to overmix the batter.  Bowl can be removed from the mixer and mixture folded with a spatula to finish incorporating ingredients.  Cake batter will be on the thick side… not pourable.
Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans.  Bake for 23 to 25 minutes (for a 9-inch pan) or 30-32 minutes (for an 8-inch pan).  Cake is done when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove cakes from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Invert cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting and assembling the cake.

To make the Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese for 30 seconds, until pliable and smooth.  Add the butter and beat for another 30 seconds, until well combined.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl as necessary.  Beat in the beets.  Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, milk, lemon juice, and salt.  Beat on medium speed until smooth and silky.  Refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes before frosting the cooled cakes.
To assemble the cake, place one layer of cake on a cake stand or cake plate.  Top with a generous amount of pink frosting.  Spread evenly.  Place the other cake on top of the frosting.  Top with frosting.  Work frosting onto the sides of the cake.  You will have extra frosting left over.  Refrigerate for an hour before serving (it will make the cake easier to slice).  Cake will last, well wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.


  1. Alison I totally made this for Valentine's this year and had the same melting problem...I don't do many cakes either so I didn't know about the whole "wait until the layers are completely cool" tip. We enjoyed it, I think next time I will just go with a chocolate cake sans beets, but then use the beet frosting -- because that stuff is DELICIOUS!

    1. Oh, that's a good idea! The cake WAS very beet-y. Having the beets only in the frosting would be a good way to tone it down.

      I love following your blog! It looks like you guys are having a wonderful time in Chile. How much longer are you there for?

  2. cute!!!


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