Chocolate and Raspberry Beetroot Loaf Cake

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
100g raspberries

50g white chocolate and a handful of fresh or freeze dried raspberries for decorating, if you like.


  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Raspberry and Passion Fruit Iced Buns – Bake Off Bake Along Week 10

So here we are. The Great British Bake Off 2015 has finished, and I am limping along into Week 10 of this bake along. I have had triumphs and disasters – thankfully more of the former than the latter – and I am proud to say that I baked every single week.

Did anyone else get a bit teary when they announced that Nadiya was the winner? Incredibly well-deserved, I think. When the final started I initially thought it could go any way, but it wasn’t long before it became clear that she had it in the bag. It’s always so gratifying to see someone really progress and change and grow in confidence: compare Nadiya of the final to Nadiya of Week 1. A metamorphosis.


I’ll miss having the show to watch but, although I’ve enjoyed doing it, I’m glad to be at the end of the bake along. I really don’t have time to do it any more, and although I pushed myself to finish this week it would have been the last one even if it hadn’t been the end of the show.

So, here we are. Raspberry and passion fruit iced buns. They aren’t perfect, and they look pretty messy, but they tasted delicious, and that’s all I really wanted. If anyone else made iced buns this week, I’d be interested to know how you found it. My dough was very, very wet and incredibly difficult to work with, almost impossible to knead. Part of the reason that these buns are chubby and misshapen instead of long, elegant fingers is because the dough was too wet to shape in any meaningful way. But the buns came out light and soft, and I think that’s because it was such a wet dough, so perhaps that’s the price you pay.


Here’s the recipe I used for the dough: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/iced_fingers_34133

I added my own home-made passion fruit curd, and crushed some raspberries to fold through the cream, then finished off the icing with some freeze-dried raspberries.

Thank you so much to Amanda and Ala for running this bake along and inspiring me to get involved. I’ve loved seeing all the other incredible bakes everyone else has made, and it’s been a pleasure to discover lots of new blogs over the course of the last ten weeks.

Until next year, my darlings. À bientôt, j’espère.


Raspberry & Goats’ Cheese Brownies

I should have started writing a blog years ago. Literally, years ago. And the reason I didn’t is pretty stupid: I felt intimidated.

I’m a big reader of blogs, you see – I like nosing into other people’s lives and kitchens – so I am fully aware of the vast, huge, mountainous variety of things to read out there. It seems like every second person has a blog nowaways, and you can find one on almost any conceivable subject. There are thousands upon thousands of UK food blogs. I felt that if I started one of my own, I would just be shouting into the void. I always told myself that my cooking would never be as good as the others, my photographs never as polished, my writing never as engaging. I don’t think of myself as a creative person at all. And nobody would ever read it, so what would be the point?

I would look at all the of wonderful, talented, established food bloggers that I admire, and know that I could never get to that stage. It seemed to me that I should have started back in 2006, when food blogs were becoming ‘a thing’ for the first time. ‘I’m such an idiot!’ I would tell myself, ‘I could have done hundreds of posts by now! I could have archives! I could feel like I know what I am doing!’

I really never feel like I know what I am doing.


Eventually, I managed to convince myself that everyone has to start somewhere, and that it’s likely that all those people I admire probably used to feel like they were shouting into the void too. James always tells me that the idea is not to focus on what everyone else is doing, but to focus on doing your own thing as well as you can and recognising that you might have something the person next to you doesn’t. Of course, he’s much wiser than I am, and got his act together re: creative output many years ago.

That all sort of clumsily brings me on to these brownies.


Source: The recipe is from Faith Durand, and can be found on The Kitchn website, here. Faith Durand is one of those intimidatingly amazing people who I really admire (this is her career! She makes a living out of this! Have you seen that website?!), and I love her recipes. Of course, she’s American, so naturally I’ve had to convert the recipe because ounces and cups mean nothing to me. I’ve tweaked it very mildly in the process, but this is still hers.

Notes: These brownies actually taste better if you let them sit and eat them the next day. If you can manage that, though, you’re a better person than I. They also do very well frozen, and can be eaten cold.

Goats’ cheese and chocolate might sound weird, but I promise you, it’s perfection. If you are serving them to people who might raise eyebrows, just call them ‘raspberry cheesecake brownies’ and tell them what’s in them afterwards. Or don’t.


125g raspberries, lightly crushed with a fork
2 tbsp kirsch, or crème de cassis, or whatver vaguely alcoholic red liqueur you have lying about
285g dark chocolate (70% or higher)
170g unsalted butter
125ml whole milk
400g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
130g plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

for the topping

225g goat’s cheese
110g full-fat cream cheese
30g unsalted butter
1 egg
50g sugar
1 tsp almond extract
Freeze dried raspberries, to decorate (optional)


  1. First, place your chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water to melt. I always put this on first because it usually unexpectedly takes ages.
  2. Heat the oven to 180C/ 160c fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line a brownie pan – I use a rectangular 30cm x 20cm one for everything. Lining the pan will make it far easier to get the brownies out later. Mix your liqueur with your raspberries and set it aside in a bowl to marinate.
  3. Your chocolate and butter should now be well on the way to melting. When it has, remove it from the heat and stir in the milk, and then let it cool for about five minutes. Then mix your sugar and vanilla into the chocolate mixture, and add your eggs one by one. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and fold until smooth. Chuck around half of the raspberries into the brownie mixture, stir, and spread it evenly into your pan.
  4. Now make the topping. I do this in a bowl with an electric hand whisk. Beat the goats’ cheese, cream cheese, butter, egg, sugar, and almond extract together until combined. Fold in the reserved raspberries – you don’t want them fully incorporated because you want the swirly ripple effect. Use a regular spoon to dollop the cheesecake mixture onto the top of the brownie mixture, then use a skewer or a knife to swirl it around until it looks marbled.
  5. Bake it for twenty minutes, then check it. You’re looking for the brownies to be just barely set in the middle, but starting to very lightly brown and crack around the outsides. It might take up the half an hour, depending on your oven and the size of your pan. As soon as you take them out of thee oven, sprinkle the freeze dried raspberry pieces over the top, if using. Leave to cool and set.