Beetroot and Carrot Cake

Beetroot and Carrot Cake 2

My children have exceptionally finely tuned radars when it comes to trying out new dishes and show particular suspicion if I ever respond “it’s a surprise!” when they are faced with something new.  They will fire questions about ingredients at me but I am used to this now and have a range of ripostes and distracting tactics at the ready.  I’ve perfected acting in a slightly deaf, vague fashion when being cross examined, sometimes I will deflect questions by posing a conundrum so complex, lengthy and bizarre back at them that they will have forgotten their original question or my absolute favourite when faced with a query I would rather not answer, I look intently at the window and ask “is that a badger out there?”.

These discussions and my slippery evasiveness usually come to the fore when a less than popular vegetable has been snuck into something under cover.  I do this in my never-ending efforts to find a way to make each and every vegetable delicious to my treasures.  Rather as it was with this Beetroot and Carrot cake.  Previously a regular kind of Carrot cake had been deemed acceptable so grabbing this particular baton, I decided to expand on the idea and add beetroot to the mix.

Now don’t misunderstand me, I am under no false illusion that by adding any old veg to a cake it miraculously becomes healthy.  There is a sea of treats out there that contain ‘better for you’ ingredients – sweet potatoes, date syrup, wholemeal flour, quinoa or whatever but treats they are.  A cake is a cake is a cake, something to enjoy occasionally but not every day.  The reason I make this one is because I think it is absolutely delicious.  The fact that it contains grated raw carrot and beetroot is a happy coincidence.

My son ate one slice of the first of these cakes but has mysteriously been full whenever offered a slice at a later date.  My husband said he like it but could see why the children didn’t which, in itself, was fairly damning and my daughter simply eyed it as one would a snake.

So to everyone who has tried this cake and loved it (even those who were told the pink bits were raspberries….) I say thank you and to my family I say, never mind, all the more for me.

Beetroot and Carrot Cake 1

Beetroot and Carrot Cake

Grating the vegetables in a processor can make it a bit wet so I tend to do it by hand with a box grater, it only takes a few minutes.

300g carrots and beetroot (untrimmed or peeled weight), grated

250g self raising flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

150g soft brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

150ml sunflower or vegetable oil, plus a tiny bit extra for greasing the tin

2 eggs, beaten

125g icing sugar, sifted

50g soft butter

200g cream cheese, at room temperature

1 lime, zest and juice.

Preheat the oven to 170 and oil a 20cm tin with a little of the sunflower/vegetable oil and line the base.   Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl, add the salt and sugar followed by the grated carrot and beetroot and mix well.  Combine the oil and beaten egg and add this to the flour and vegetables and mix.  It will be a thick mixture!  Put into the tin, level the top and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before cooling completely on a rack.   Meanwhile for the icing, beat the butter, sugar and lime really well before adding the cream cheese.  It is important that this is at room temperature so it mixes in easily, don’t over beat it as it will quickly become runny.  If it does however, don’t panic, just put it in the fridge until firmed up.  Spread over the cake.

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Chocolate Mayonnaise cake

Years ago I worked as a waitress in a restaurant in Yorkshire and I would recite the pudding list to the customers.  Whenever I cam to the Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake there would be a lot of oohing and “how weirds”!  Admittedly it sounds a little strange but the principle of eggs and fat or oil are bang on as ingredients for a cake. They are just already combined for you in mayonnaise.  Foolishly I never got that original recipe but after some experimenting I came up with this.  Unusually for a cake I think it is better the day after you make it as it seems to become more fudgy and although I thought it might be a bit rich for children, I offered it for tea recently and seconds and thirds were required…

I mention it now in particular because it is a great recipe to have up your sleeve in an emergency.  Whilst you may run short of butter or eggs over the holidays, there is almost always a jar of mayonnaise in the fridge standing by for those cold turkey sandwiches.   So if you don’t like Christmas cake or just want to rustle up a cake for tea, why not try this.  Happy Christmas!

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

I usually dust this with cocoa as I like that bitter edge but I couldn’t resist a snowy fall of icing sugar today.

250g self raising flour

55g cocoa powder plus a little extra for dusting

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

200g golden caster sugar

220g mayonnaise

200ml water

Icing sugar or extra cocoa to serve

Preheat the oven to 180.  Butter and flour (or cocoa) a loose bottom 23cm tin.  Sift the flour and cocoa together, then add the remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly incorporated and smooth, either with a hand held beater or in a mixer.  Pour into the prepared tin and cook for 30-40 minutes until if feels firm to the touch on top.  Cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely.  Dust with cocoa or icing sugar before serving.  Serves 8.

If you want a slightly denser (in a good way!) cake to serve for a pudding, look no further than my Chocolate Pudding Cake which I posted, funnily enough, last December.

Chocolate Pudding Cake

Marble Cake

Marble cake slice 2

I have felt a little caked-out recently following my Macmillan coffee morning but it is a dreary rainy October day in Dorset so there is only one thing to do – bake.  I make no secret of my fondness for a well stocked cake tin (Lemon Cake and the 1970’s, May 2013),  perhaps because when I was young a slice of cake was a proper treat.  It still is actually and ideally a weekly one and not something just for high days and holidays.

I may be sporting my rose coloured specs, the ones I usually view the 70’s with (blazing hot summers and superb music, forgetting strikes and power cuts etc) but I’m sure cakes were always homemade and whipped out triumphantly for weekends tea.  The only bought ones I can remember were something called a Country Manor Cake, a sort of light fruit cake with a demerara sugar topping which I was strangely fond of and the fabulous fluorescent Battenburg which enthralled me with its colours and the marzipan which I would peel off.

A marble cake was often the star at these teas and it seemed somehow exciting and exotic, what with its different flavours and swirls.  Many (many) years on I decided to make a marble cake and was delighted that my children were just as excited by the pattern and having both chocolate and vanilla flavours in one cake.   So much so that my son requested a marble cake, and it absolutely had to be a marble cake, last week when he had a friend from school over for tea.

You will see from the photographs that my marbling and swirling isn’t brilliant, artistry in cakes not one of my strengths and I doubt I will be troubling Paul and Mary any time soon.  The pictures are also the best I can do on a grey overcast day but I hope they convey the lovely texture of this easy and delicious cake.  Please, please do make it.

Marble Cake close 2

Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake

I use both milk and plain chocolate for the icing, all milk I find too sweet and all plain my children find too dark.  The mix of the two seems just right but as ever, adjust to your own tastes.

200g caster sugar

200g butter, soft

3 eggs

200g self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

25g cocoa

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons milk

For the icing

100g chocolate, milk or plain as you prefer, see introduction

20g butter

1-2 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 170 and grease a 20cm tin which is at least 6-8cm deep.  Whizz the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time each with a spoonful of flour.  Once these are incorporated sift in the reminder of the flour along with the baking powder and salt then add the milk and vanilla.  Put half the mixture into another bowl and sift the cocoa into one lot, mix well.  Drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the prepared tin alternating vanilla and chocolate.  Run a skewer through the blobs marbling as you go and then bake for 55 minutes.  Check after 45 in case it is browning too much on top in which case lay a piece of foil over it.  When a skewer comes out clean leave to cool and then remove from the tin.

For the icing, melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water then add the milk until you get the consistency you are after for the icing, I find one tablespoon is usually enough.  Pour over the cake and dig in.

Marble cake whole