Beetroot cake

Beetroot cake might seem like an odd concept, but it’s not so far fetched when you consider its cousin the carrot cake. While I’m not into sticking root vegetables into cakes purely for the sake of it (I once saw a recipe for cake with carrot, parsnip and potato in it, which seemed like some sort of afternoon tea alternative to a roast dinner), beetroot does make excellent cake. It lends an earthy flavour that is not dense or cloying like carrot cake can be, and the cake itself comes out a beautiful shade of deep pink. It’s moist on the inside, crispy on the outside, and as you bite down on your second slice you can contemplate how eating vegetables is a pretty good, all other things considered.

What I love most about this cake is its simplicity. Aside from the minor faff of grating the beetroot (I actually wore a latex glove when doing this as I didn’t want pink hands for days afterward) it really is a case of chucking everything in a bowl. If you like you can add sultanas, walnuts, lemon juice, cream cheese icing or (apparently) it’s nice with rosewater buttercream. But to me, mucking around with it would spoil its appeal – it needs no special ingredients (other than the beetroot, of course, which is plentiful at this time of year), takes a minimal amount of washing up afterwards, and best of all you can eat it straight from the oven. This cake is positively rustic, yet all the more charming for it.

250g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
150g dark brown soft sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
3-4 medium beetroots, peeled and finely grated
150ml vegetable or corn oil
2 medium eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, and grease an 8-inch springform or loose-bottomed cake tin
2. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl
3. Beat the eggs together then mix them into the oil
4. Add the beetroot and eggs/oil to the dry ingredients, stir it all up with a wooden spoon, then pour into your prepared tin
5. Bake for around 40 minutes – you may need to put a tinfoil hat on your cake to stop the top browning too much. It’s done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean

Best enjoyed cosying up with a cup of tea – definitely the antidote to autumn blues.


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