Move Over, Carrot Cake!
If you are a CSA member or an intern or volunteer at the PEAS Farm, you know that beet harvest has been bountiful so far this spring. Some claim to have a strong aversion to beets, perhaps from having only eaten them pickled. Others, namely the elementary school students that have visited the PEAS Farm subsequently have a rather refined palate for heirloom chioggia beets, much to the dismay of their parents who may not be serving chioggia beets for dinner. For those dislike beets, have you ever tried baking with beets? By baking, I don’t mean roasting them, but using them in a cake! Why should carrots and zucchinis perpetually steal the confectionery limelight?
One of the hoop houses at the PEAS Farm has created monstrous beets by sheltering them from the harsh elements of this year’s cool spring. I picked an enormous beet during a PEAS Farm CSA harvest day that was probably about 6 inches in diameter. It had split from growing too much and was too unsightly for a CSA share. I was happy to take it home.
I chopped the beet, roasted it in the oven until tender, and then pureed it into a vivid magenta slurry in the blender, which would to form the key ingredient in the chocolaty beet cake batter. After the cake had been baked, my roommate, who was formerly a professional baker and wedding cake decorator, took over and made the cake into the most beautiful birthday beet cake you could imagine. It did not taste like beets, but the beets certainly added a rich sweetness and moistness. The cake was cut in half to include a layer of homemade blackberry peach jam. Then it was decorated with chocolate coconut icing and additional icing that my roommate made pink from a bit of beet juice. Lastly, a birthday greeting was written across the smooth surface of the iced cake and it was dotted with some candied lilacs I made from the blooms that perfumed all of Missoula not too long ago. This cake was perhaps the most delicious cake that I have ever eaten. So next time you wrinkly your nose at the thought of beets, just remember that you can have your beets, and eat them in cake, too.
You can find the recipe to make your own chocolate beet cake here.