This cake taught me a lesson. Or, more accurately, this cake re-taught me a lesson that I have learned several times in the kitchen but apparently need to be reminded of because I am a special kind of idiot.
The lesson, by the way, is that some things cannot be rushed.
It was New Year’s Day and I had two recipes I wanted to test and photograph. I’ve not got any special photography lights, so I need to photograph in natural daylight, which in January means I have to get any pictures done before 3.30pm at the latest, and even that’s tricky on a very grey day. I was stressed and rushing. I’m clumsy at the best of times, but when I am hurrying it gets even worse, and I had already stubbed my toe, smacked my head on the extractor fan, and dropped sugar all over the floor. The first recipe I was testing hadn’t gone well and needed a lot of revisions. My second recipe was this cake. I was behind schedule and so, even though I know better, I tried to move the cake from the tin to a board for pictures when it was still very hot.
The whole thing completely fell apart.
I won’t lie to you: I had a bit of a meltdown. I had been working frantically all day and had nothing to show for it. I had wasted hours of time and lots of expensive ingredients. Worse, I didn’t have the time or the food to try the recipes again that day, so I was going to have to go back to the supermarket and spend money I didn’t have on getting a new set of stuff and sacrifice my plans for the next day to do everything all over again.
Quite often, I have to remind myself that this is only food, and it’s not a world-altering disaster if things don’t go well. Nonetheless, it’s hard when something you’ve put a lot of time and resources into fails, whether or not the thing is important in its own right.
So this post, then, comes with a moral: don’t rush things that cannot be rushed. Or, more specifically, don’t try and get a chocolate beetroot cake out of its tin when it’s only been out of the oven for thirty seconds, because it will collapse all over you and the floor and you will accidentally step in it and not realise and track cake all over the kitchen that you had only just cleaned that morning and ruin a perfectly decent pair of socks.
You can at least rest safe in the knowledge that this cake has been very thoroughly tested.
Source: I started with this recipe, but changed it a lot: making it into a loaf cake, adding raspberries, adding dark chocolate to boost the flavour, messing with quantities, adding decorations… I mean, it’s a different beast now.
Notes: The cake you see in the pictures has been made in my very smallest loaf tin and only uses half the mixture in this recipe. The rest I had to use for cupcakes on this occasion, for complicated reasons. This mix, then, will do for two small loaf cakes or one big one, or one small one and a batch of cupcakes, or two layers of a circular cake… whatever you fancy. It’s pretty forgiving.
Also, obviously the cake you see here is a re-make, post Disaster Cake.
100g dark chocolate
250g cooked beetroot (I get the vac-pac things from Sainsburys. Not in vinegar, obviously)
3 large eggs
200ml corn oil (or other flavourless oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g cocoa powder
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
250g caster sugar
50g white chocolate and a handful of fresh or freeze dried raspberries for decorating, if you like.
- Preheat your oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4. Grease and line a loaf tin, or whatever tin you’ve gone for. Start the dark chocolate melting in a bain marie (or microwave if you are brave).
- Blitz your beetroot in a food processor until puréed and, leaving the machine running, pour in the oil and then crack in the eggs and add in the vanilla. Blitz until it’s all smooth and pink and kind of odd but lovely. In a large bowl, sift the cocoa powder, flour, and baking powder together, and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the dry ingredients, then whisk in the very pink wet ingredients until smooth. Stir in the melted chocolate, and fold in the whole raspberries.
- Pop the mixture into your chosen tins and bake for around 40 minutes, although this will obviously depend on your choice of tin – the cake you see in the photo took 40 minutes at 160C in my fan oven. When it’s done, take it out and let it cool (might trick me once…) before decorating with swipes of melted white chocolate and raspberries, or feel free to leave it plain. It should taste lovely either way.