Sunday, April 11, 2010

Beet triumph

Ever since I made that first batch of Chocolate and Roasted Beet Pudding Cakes, I've been thinking on the concept of working roasted beet puree into my baking regimen in a more manageable way.

I mean, yes, that pudding cake recipe is good and it does effectively include beet puree (which THANK GAWD because I can't hardly manage the influx of beets from the farmshare even with my favorite stacked recipe on hand), but the whole process is a little needy for me, Lazy Baker to the Stars.

See, in order to effectively produce these pudding-y chocolate cakes, one must have things like a billion eggs (4) two big bars of proper chocolate on hand, the desire to employ the services of individual ramekins and then, at that rate, four or fewer people to eat the cakes.

So, yes, I've stretched this recipe to accommodate dinners with 6 people, but there were unequal portion sizes and some of the diners (me) became cranky when it was clear they'd be receiving one of the smaller pudding cakes. Sad.

But the results were undeniable - beet puree makes chocolate even more delicious.

Really, people. Why don't you ever believe me? I'm not even bullshitting you.

Here's why: If you're like me about chocolate (just go with me here), you prefer it to be not too sweet, but still rich and decadent. Which is why normal chocolate cakes, cupcakes and the like are usually too sweet because they are made with mounds of sugar and whatever. But the beet puree totally fixes that. The cake is enhanced with a complementary flavor rather than more sugar, which results in a really fucking good chocolate cake that's light on the tooth-cracking sweetness of your typical chocolate cake.

Super nice.

But COME ON, individual ramekins? Baking moments before serving? Pain.In.The.Ass.

So, I did a little experiment over the (rainy, shitty, cold, windy, anti-gardening weather) weekend wherein I set out to try two things:
  1. See if I could successfully create an easy, delicious and not-too-sweet chocolate cake by swapping beet puree for oil in a boxed cake mix.
  2. Pioneer Woman's purported Best Frosting
You should know that I did not intend to bastardize Pioneer Woman's frosting recipe by swapping out anything for beet puree or other healthy alternative because, while her recipes might not be typically super healthy, they are 99.9% of the time totally worth the future heart failure because WOW.

So, like, no Greek Yogurt for Butter swapping here. This is not the time nor the place for such shenanigans.

I am now happy to announce, however, that both experiments were successful.

On the part of the frosting, we can all just go, "Duh, bitch." and move on because since when is one of PW's recipes a dud? Like, never. It's a really good frosting and, keeping to my Save the Teeth mantra, it's not super sweet and overly sugary like most frostings, homemade or store-bought.

Also, an aside, we decided it would be rully good on a carrot cake, and so I have been tasked with that experiment. I'm also starting to feel like my neighbors and husband are Tom Sawyering me on this one, so I just want it known that I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE UP TO, PEOPLE, AND I WON'T BE MADE A FOOL. So, you know, any carrot cake with PW's frosting that comes about will be a result of my latent desire to make one and not because of your subliminal suggesting.

Sneaky bastards.

The cake though? Well, the cake was easy like Sunday morning and as delicious as whatever day is known to be delicious. Thursday? I don't know. Maybe Thursday is a renowned day of deliciousness somewhere.

Anyway, the cake came out amazingly well and the substitutions were awesomely easy. So easy, in fact, that I decided to go all the way with this cake experiment (not like THAT, you whores) and actually make a traditional layer cake. Something I've not made or had in quite some time due to the rise in popularity of the cupcake.

Layer cake.
Like cupcakes, only bigger and, consequently, better.

Poor cupcakes.

Don't you think they've been paraded about a bit much? I mean, fine, they're small cakes, which I suppose can be cute, but let us all agree that this is not a unique idea anymore and we can stop gushing about OH LOOK HOW CUTE AND SPECIAL when someone produces them for an event. We've all seen cupcakes. We've all eaten cupcakes. And no magic life-changing event ever followed. So let's stop acting like they're little spongy fairies here to grant us three wishes and try acting like fucking adults.

Adults who want to decide just how big their slice of cake is rather than having it pre-determined by the size limitations imposed by a paper wrapper.


I found a dark chocolate boxed cake mix at my neighborhood market and promptly followed the directions for baking this mundane beast exactly as called for by the box save for the 1/2 cup of oil.

In that case, I subbed out the oil for the same amount of roasted beet puree, mixed it up with the Kitchenaid and baked two cake pans' worth for the called-for amount of time.

The result? Um, perhaps better than if I'd made it with the oil.


This cake was way good. Even had all those gross attributes that people like to use to describe cakes. Specifically, it was mo*st.

I won't say the word. It's too gross.

Also, though, to employ a snobbish food term that I don't *really* understand, it had a nice crumb. To put it in my terms: it was sproingy without being dry and it wasn't dense at all - where you feel like your slicing into a giant block of fudge.

And there wasn't any actual beet flavor to be found in this cake, even though the four of us tasting it (or shoveling it into thy face, as some *might* have been) consider ourselves wise in the way of beets thanks to the beet-happy farmshare we split.

There was no mint involved in this cake. It just needed a hairdo.

So, my thought now is why I would ever go back to adding oil to any chocolate cake mix when I have plenty of beets around to do the job and also to give me a nice healthy excuse for eating chocolate cake. Even better than Bill Cosby's reasoning, I'd wager.

Now, sure, making boxed cake mixes isn't probably the best idea given all the What the F is this? on their ingredients list, but this was my experiment for making a fast and easy chocolate cake with beets rather than one for making a fast, easy and containing no unpronounceable ingredients chocolate cake with beets.

That's next time.

And I will probably use PW's frosting recipe for that, too, because it's good. Good enough, even, to ignore the fact that it uses a boatEFFINGload of butter.

Wow. That chick likes her butter.

What I'm saying here, folks, is that the Cake Doctor cookbooks have been missing the boat on some stuff, and chocolate cakes can be improved in the healthy department by using beet puree for oil.


  1. oh, you are mean. not really, of course, because how could you know i need an afternoon snack right now and haven't had any chocolate today and decided to take a break to catch up on your blog and then voila, there's this awesome cake in my face . . .

    i also hate the m word. gross.

    one day i will sneak beets into a chocolate cake and my family will never, ever know . . .it looks so freaking good.

    and then you sent me over the nostalgia edge with the zanotto's link! i went to santa clara for undergrad and just love that store.even the street name, naglee, sends me into nostalgia-land . . .ok, i am also 35 weeks pregnant but whatev.

  2. I believe you about beets being tasty, I just haven't bothered with it yet. I will forward this on to Jeff and see what he can produce. Though he won't be using a box mix because he's a food snob about that sort of thing. One time I was planning on doing a pound cake from a mix and he asked me, "Why would you do that to your family?" But, you know, his baking is amazing, so I really shouldn't complain.

  3. Finny, Finny, Finny! First you pulverize all the glory that is the beet and then you malign the hallowed cupcake! What's this world coming too? Like you, I probably prefer a good piece of cake to a cupcake, but in either case, there can never be too much parading of either. Anyway, your cake does look divine and since it's chocolate...all is forgiven!

  4. I planted the beets just today. And though I like to think I will try making this recipe--because I do indeed adore a not-too-sweet chocolate cake and I trust your recipes--the sad truth is that I probably will not. Because I hate to bake. But will, weirdly, go to all the trouble of pickling beets, which is probably way more of a pain in the ass than pureeing them and baking with them.

    I never claimed to be logical.

  5. I've been reading your blog for a while now and since this post had me struggling not to laugh aloud in the library, I figured I should actually comment at some point. I don't even remember why I originally started reading this (tomatoes, perhaps? No doubt I found you while on a gardenblog search to live vicariously through others while I am dirtless in my apartment) but you're hilarious and awesome, so I've continued to do so.

    Now I want to try some of this cake...sounds intriguing.


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

So, here's the thing with commenting, unless you have an email address associated with your own profile, your comment will still post, but I won't have an email address with which to reply to you personally.

Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.