Joi loves cooking and growing beautiful foods, and has a passion for designing memorable meals. Garden-born recipes are her favorite.
Love at First Sight
The first time I had this cake was at a casual family Thanksgiving gathering in 2010. We devoured it without any frosting, sighing with pleasure, and vowing to grow yellow beets every year hence.
My family has made it several times since then. We never tire of its sweet-spicy flavor paired with its not-quite-sticky texture.
Availability of Beets
We have always grown our own beets, or bartered with neighbors for unusual varieties. This means that we have usually made this cake seasonally. For me, it belongs to late summer and autumn.
But if you are fortunate enough to have access to beets outside of your immediate growing season, you could make it to suit your notions, for no special purpose.
Also, if you freeze cooked beets or beet puree, you could make this cake anytime you please.
I suspect this recipe could be made using beet powder, but have never tried this method. If you experiment with powder, please let me know how it turns out!
Finally, I have never used a pale beet, such as Chiogga, or sugar types. I think the flavor would be good, but I suspect the coloration would suffer. If you use a very sweet beet, adjust the sugar accordingly. (The amount of sugar will affect the texture and "crumb" of the cake. Too much will leave it flat and dense, as well as detracting from the zing of the beets.)
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
12 medium or 16 small servings
Note on Cooking Time
The preparation time listed above includes mixing the batter only. It does not include the time required to prepare the beets.
To prepare the beets, you can use either of the following approaches. Either method yields good results.
- Cooked: Cook the beets and then mash or puree them.
- Raw: Using a hand grater or food processor, shred or pulverize raw beets.
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground or grated
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel, ground
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves, ground
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 3/4 cups flour, unbleached or all-purpose, or
- 1 3/4 cups white + 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup rapeseed oil, coconut oil, butter, or any combination
- 3 cups yellow beets (4 medium), peeled and grated, or cooked and mashed
- 1 tablespoon orange zest, (optional)
- 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts, (optional)
- Prepare 4 medium beets as desired. Either peel and grate or pulverize them, or cook and mash or puree them.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
- In a separate medium-size bowl, cream together the eggs and sugars. Incorporate the oil(s).
- Add the liquid ingredients to the dry mixture, stirring to combine, then fold in beets, orange zest, and walnuts.
- Grease and flour an 11-inch x 15-inch pan (or two smaller pans, see below). Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes, rotating pan(s) halfway through for even baking. Bake until a tester comes out almost clean. (If you wait until there is no stickiness, you will have overbaked your cake!) Cool completely in the pan(s) and set on rack(s).
Frosted Layer Cake Variation
For layer cake:
- Grease 2 round pans, 8 to 9 inches in diameter; line with parchment or waxed paper, and set aside until the batter is ready.
- Divide batter between pans, then bake 20 minutes and rotate. Continue baking until done.
- Remove from oven, cool 10 minutes, then turn cakes out over rack(s). Remove parchment paper, flip the cakes, and continue to cool for at least 2 hours before frosting. You should have nice, flat surfaces for frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting (Optional)
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups confectioners sugar (aka, powdered sugar)
- Beat the cream cheese and vanilla together.
- Gradually add the sugar until the mixture is creamy. The longer you mix, the thinner the frosting will become.
Red Beet Cake Variation
The cakes shown here have no topping at all, nor do they require any. But if you desire toppings, here are some suggestions:
- Cream cheese frosting (recipe given above)
- Simple sugar glaze, with or without extra spices and beet slices added
- Pattern of powdered sugar, sprinkled over a paper doily
- Candied beet slices (cut in any shape you desire)
- Beet chips (thin dehydrated beet slices)
- Orange zest strips
- Candied orange peel pieces or strips
- Mandarin orange sections
- Paper-thin lemon slices
- Glaze made from lemon juice and simple syrup
- Whipped cream, sour cream, or Mexican cream
- Chocolate chips (add while cake is still warm, to melt slightly so they adhere)
How to Candy Beets
- Slice fresh or frozen beets 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick, keeping the slices as uniform as possible, so they will cook evenly.
- Make a simple syrup of 1 part water and 1 part granulated sugar (1:1, or 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar).
- In a small saucepan, cook over low heat, stirring slightly, until dissolved. Add beet slices, and cook gently, 20 to 30 minutes, until translucent, turning now and again with a rubber spatula. If liquid evaporates, add water just to cover.
- Arrange beets on cake, and pour glaze over top, as desired. Or, reserve glaze for serving.
Beets may be cut in any way you desire, as long as the slices are similar dimensions. You may julienne or spiralize beets, or you may cut slices and stamp shapes with cookie cutters. Cutting round slices will result in a very different presentation than will slicing lengthwise, for example.
Beet Variety Comparisons, by Veseys Comparisons
© 2020 Joilene Rasmussen