Before you raise your eyebrows in suspicion of this cake’s unusual secret ingredient, let me argue its case. I was served this Dark Chocolate and Beetroot Cake upon arrival in London last year. It was baked lovingly by my cousins, drizzled with dark chocolate ganache and intricately decorated with a white chocolate welcome message. I was so taken aback by how incredibly rich and velvety the first bite was. The idea is not to actually taste the beetroot, but there is a dark, seductive, earthy tone to the cake that is utterly delicious.
I haven’t stopped thinking about this cake since that day, and months ago I contacted my cousin Wendy to ask her for the recipe. I was not at all surprised when she replied saying that it was to soon feature in a recipe book she was releasing with the fabulous Australian political journalist Annabel Crabb. Wendy and Annabel are childhood friends, and over the past few years Wendy has helped Annabel devise the delicious recipes in her ABC series, ‘Kitchen Cabinet’. I decided to hold back until the book was released… and it was worth the wait! The newly published ‘Special Delivery’ is full of enticing, simple recipes; ‘Favourite Food to Make and Take’. You can buy it on Amazon and in all good bookstores, and wrap it up as a nifty Christmas gift or keep a copy for yourself!
I made two layers of this cake and sandwiched them together with my favourite silky chocolate cream cheese frosting. Fresh raspberries atop the cake finish off a perfectly pretty little creation that will be happily devoured by whoever you chose to share it with.
Vanilla Sponge Cake with Passionfruit Curd, Whipped Cream and Fresh Blueberries
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 3 hours
Dark Chocolate and Beetroot Cake, from Special Delivery
- one large whole beetroot (about 300 g)
- 300 g white sugar
- 150 mL vegetable oil
- 125 mL buttermilk
- 2 large or 3 small eggs
- 225 g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 40 g cocoa powder
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
- 75 g unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
- 250 g cream cheese
- 150 g pure icing sugar, sifted
- 30 g cocoa powder, sifted
- 75 g dark chocolate
- 1 punnet fresh raspberries
Dark Chocolate and Beetroot Cake
- Preheat oven to 170°C/325°F fan-forced. Grease and line two 18 cm/7 inch cake tins.
- Slice the beetroot into quarters, wrap in foil, and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until tender. Once cooled, peel off the skin and puree the beetroot in a food processor until very smooth.
- Add the sugar, oil, buttermilk and eggs and blitz again until smooth. Pour into a medium mixing bowl.
- Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cocoa into the wet ingredients, and use a hand whisk to gently but thoroughly combine the ingredients until the batter is smooth. It should be quite runny and a deep red colour.
- Pour the batter evenly into the prepared tins, and bang the tins on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Place on the oven’s central rack and bake for 25-35 minutes until a metal skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean but moist. Rotate the cakes after 15 minutes for a more even shape.
- Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 20 minutes, then turn out and leave to cool completely on wire racks. Once cooled, use a sharp serrated knife to slice off the domed tops. Wrap in plastic wrap or leave in an airtight container until ready to frost.
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
- Prepare the frosting while the cakes are baking. In a medium heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate over a saucepan of simmering water until just melted. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool slightly.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese for 6-8 minutes on medium speed, until thick and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Pour in the melted chocolate, and beat for 1 minute to combine. Sift the cocoa powder and icing sugar into a bowl, and add it spoonful at a time to the frosting with the beater on low speed. Once added, beat for another 2 minutes until fluffy and smooth. Cover frosting and refrigerate until cakes have cooled completely.
- If necessary, beat the frosting again to soften prior to frosting the cake. Spread half of the frosting onto the first cake layer, then press the second cake layer on top gently. Spread the remaining frosting over the second cake layer, and top with fresh raspberries.
- Place the cake in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving.
Store cake covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days.