[The sixteenth – Beets and a cake]


bonbon cake top

Two days, four bowls of Thai chicken soup, twenty hours of sleep, and a singing cab driver later, I’m finally emerging from the nightmare that flu is.

Only to let you know, I loved all of your ideas. Some made me laugh, some made me think.

The secret ingredient was beetroot.


And believe me, this cake has become a number one favourite.

You see, when I first made it, I wanted to try two new things – because, after all, this little journal here is made for things that I can’t experiment with at work.

A beetroot cake.
And this lovely sprinkle and bonbons frosting.

bonbon cake

I had more eggs, butter, flour and sugar in my cupboard that I can admit; a couple of raw organic beets sitting in the fridge. And a major disappointment: every recipe I’d found called for cooked beetroots.

Now, I’m not saying I didn’t want to spend three hours waiting by the oven for the precious little rubies to become soft and sweet, but I knew – deep-inside – I could just grate them finely.

So I did.

Gâteau à la betterave

This recipe is a keeper. The texture is out of this world and the cake will keep moist for days. Here I made two small cakes, one for now, and one kept – tightly wrapped in clingfilm – in the freezer, for later.

But really you could bake it in a 24cm pan or in a loaf tin. Just make sure you adjust the baking time accordingly: a small knife, inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean.

To grate the beets, I used my microplane grater and it did a wonderful job at it. If you don’t have one – and really you should – simply use the smallest grater you can find.

The fresh beets add so much more than just colour. They make the cake moist – the same way carrots do in a carrot cake – and bring a lovely yet subtle earthiness.

I’m giving you the recipe for the cream cheese frosting, because we all need a good reliable one in times of need. But keep in mind that the cake is equally delicious cold and frosted than it is slightly warm – from a short trip in the microwave from frozen – and naked.

Gâteau à la betterave

serves 8-10

for the beetroot cake
3 eggs
175g caster
seeds from one vanilla pod
2 medium beetroots, approximately 250g
175g flour
10g baking powder
one tsp ground cinnamon
120g butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 170°C and butter generously a 24cm-wide springform tin.
In the bowl of a stand-mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the eggs, sugar and vanilla seeds on medium speed until fluffy and double in size.
In the meantime, peel the beetroots and grate them straight into the bowl containing the eggs, gently folding as you go.
Add the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, and incorporate using a spatula.
Transfer a couple of spoonfuls of the batter into the melted – but cooled – butter and mix vigourously until smooth, then fold back into the remaining batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool on a wire rack before frosting it, or devour plain when still warm.

for the cream-cheese frosting
300g icing sugar
50g butter, at room temperature
125g cream-cheese, cold
liquorish candies

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a stand-mixer with the paddle attachment until the mixture comes together. Add the cream cheese mix until smooth and fluffy.
Frost the sides of the cake and immediately sprinkle with the non-pareils of your choice. And pile some old-fashioned liquorish candies in the centre.

And just for the record – and for your personal enjoyment (read: burst into laughs with tears and all), when I say stand-mixer, I really mean mixer standing on a loaf of sliced bread.

Please don’t try this at home!

stand mixer