And The Beets Go On

Having a CSA share that delivers late into December means having root vegetables, winter squash, and other storables well into the New Year. One of my favorites among them are the wonderful beets that began the early fall being pickled or roasted and served alongside my favorite grilled foods. However, as the season progresses and eating our meals out on the patio becomes a cold prospect, I start to seek options for my beets that don't threaten my dining room rug with bright pink and purple stains.

This isn't as difficult as one might think. I usually roast beets whole, in foil, and follow up with peeling and grating them. Then I can use the grated beets in everything from chili (a bit of simmering reduces the super bright color into a gorgeous red-orange hue that's perfect for chili) to stews (it imparts both color and a very satisfying sweetness that pairs well with a bit of dark beer) to cake.

Yes, cake. Adding grated beets to chocolate cake results in a beautifully moist slice of heaven that doesn't give away its secret at all. I think it would also do quite well in red velvet cake, but I haven't tried that. Yet. I've also been known to add grated beets to brownies. But my favorite is chocolate bundt cake that holds nearly a cup of grated beets within. The result is beautiful, delicious, and seems to actually improve in texture and flavor in a day or two. If it lasts that long!

The fantastic thing about bundt cakes is that they are simply lovely on their own. You can just slice this cake and serve it as is or make a simple chocolate glaze for it or even serve a slice with a dollop of whipped cream or a spoonful of fruit sauce. The sky is the limit. Sometimes, I just sprinkle a little powdered sugar over the top and call it done, too. It makes for a really elegant end to a meal … and no one will know the secret within unless you are generous enough to share it!

Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake

  • 2 medium beets, unpeeled but trimmed of any greens
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Thoroughly wash the beets under running water, and trim away any leaves, leaving about 1/2 inch of stem. Place the clean beets in a piece of foil. Seal up the foil carefully. Place the foil packet on a baking sheet in the oven. Roast until they are tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Remove them from the oven, open the foil, and allow the beets to cool completely before peeling with a paring knife. Using a box grater, grate the peeled beets on the finest grating plane. Measure 3/4 cup of the grated beets for the cake and set aside.

Set the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a bundt pan or spray it with baking spray and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream together the butter, oil, and sugars. Beat the mixture on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the 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 the grated beets and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the 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 milk and then the sour cream. Once they are just incorporated, add the other half of the dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed until the milk and dry ingredients are just incorporated. Do not be bothered by the pink-purple color of the batter. The cake will take on a lovely dark chocolate color when baking.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for 50-70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Invert it onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

  • Yields: 16 servings
  • Preparation Time: 3 hours

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