Monday, November 9, 2009

Freaky sheet cake: Red Beet Cake

Hey, does anyone remember the original book Freaky Friday? Before Jodi Foster and Lindsay Lohan? I don't remember much about the book except that the neighbor, Boris, seems to have a crush on the mom and offers to bring her "beet loaf." Except that he has a cold and his name is Morris. But the beet loaf is not, in fact, meat loaf. That always killed me.
Well, my name is Baria, and I'm baking you a beet cake. Aren't you glad it's not meat cake?
There was a lot of freaky stuff about this cake. First of all was, in fact, the beets. As Claire asked me, "What's the point of putting beets in a cake?" Indeed--what's the point? It's not like it's any healthier, what with the 1 cup of salad oil and all. I guess you could call it sneaking in vegetables, but after the buttery frosting and all, that's not exactly healthy living. I'm guessing that this recipe, like the sauerkraut one, was a response to the Beet Advisory Council's call for Creative Use of Beets. Personally, I'll eat mine roasted with blue cheese and walnuts and maybe a little mâche. Now that is a good use of beets.
On the plus side, this recipe was super easy to make. Since I had already puréed the beets in the food processor and noted that there was no incorporation of air called for, I decided to mix the whole shebang in the food processor. So in went the sugar, the eggs, the vanilla, the melted chocolate/melted butter, the oil...and so on. Quick and painless. As you'd notice if you'd read the recipe, it doesn't call for butter, but I subbed half of the oil for butter.

So here's the lovely batter in the pan. Claire took the time to smooth it out and make it look all nice and perfect.
I have to say, it rose evenly and high, thanks to baking soda and Claire's careful swirling.
The frosting was the next freaky thing. What's up with cooked flour and milk in a buttercream frosting? And I beat the butter and sugar for a long time, but the sugar never dissolved, so it was kind of grainy. C+ for the frosting for sure. But didn't Claire do a nice job with her swirls?

Here's a blurry piece of cake. Note the thick layer of grainy, buttery frosting. The texture and taste of this reminded me of Wacky Cake--you know, the kind with the vinegar where you make a well in the flour and dump in all your ingredients? Kind of one-dimensional, but very moist. When Sami first tried it, he was sure that Claire had made it from a mix because it has "a texture only chemicals can create." Chemicals and beets!
So the verdict? If you want to eat beets, eat beets. If you want to eat chocolate cake, try this one or this one. This is strictly a novelty recipe in my book. But I sure hope those students I palmed this off on enjoyed it!!

OK, much later, here's the recipe. Bake it for your next Beet Council event.

Red Beet Cake

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
8-10 oz. cooked beets (canned or fresh; you decide)
1-1/2 c. (10 oz.) sugar
1 c. (8 oz.) salad oil
1 t. vanilla
3 large eggs
1-3/4 c. (7 oz.) flour
1-1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt

Heat the oven to 350. Butter and flour (or coat with bread crumbs) a 9 by 13-inch pan. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat.
In a food processor, purée the beets. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla, and process for about 20 seconds. Add the eggs and give it another 30 seconds. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and pulse that until it's just incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan and swirl it smooth, if you like.
Bake for 35 minutes or until the top springs back when pressed. You can let it cool in the pan to serve it like a sheet cake, or you can unmold it after 20 minutes. Either way, it's time to make the frosting:

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3/4 c. (6 oz.) butter, room temperature
1 c. (7 oz.) sugar
1 t. vanilla
Pinch salt
1/4 c. (1 oz.) flour
1 c. (8 oz.) milk

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a small saucepan over low heat. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until soft. Gradually add the sugar and beat on high speed for 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and salt.
Meanwhile (assuming you have a stand mixer), whisk the flour and about 1/4 c. of the milk in a small saucepan until smooth. Gradually whisk in the remaining milk. Put over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with the whisk or a rubber spatula, until the mixture comes to a low boil. Reduce the heat and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring and scraping the mixture constantly. Remove from the heat, place the bottom of the pan in a bowl of ice and water you just happen to have handy, and continue to stir and scrape until the mixture has cooled.
Add the chocolate to the butter and sugar mixture, and then gradually beat in the flour/milk mixture. Beat just enough to incorporate.
Pour the icing over the cake and spread it over the top. You can swirl it or make it smooth.
Refrigerate the cake to set the icing--this cake can and perhaps should be served cold. And remember you're getting a serving of vegetables.

1 comment:

  1. Sharmyn and I LOVE fresh beets! Just boil them, skin and eat - no added ingredients necessary. The small ones are especially sweet and tasty. I will skip this cake, thank you.