Beetroot and cardamom spice cake


There are loads of bonuses to getting a weekly organic box of fruit and veg delivered to the door. You get the best produce of the season and you’re supporting small farmers and growers. Plus organic tastes better and is good for the environment. (Sorry to preach – I used to be copywriter for Abel & Cole!) But sometimes being ‘good’ is a right royal pain…I hate it when I get repeat seasonal deliveries of vegetables such as cauliflower and beetroot week after week. Of course I think seasonal eating is important but I just don’t like certain veg as much as others. Cauliflower actually makes me furious.

Anyway, over the past few weeks our organic box delivery service kept giving us beetroot…waaay too much! Not such a bad thing, because there are delicious things you can make with it (such as Thai-style salads and spicy soups) but I still had nearly a kilo of the stuff to get through. Argh! I tried juicing it – it was too full-on and metallic to drink. So I thought I’d make a carrot-style fruit cake, substituting the carrots for grated beetroot. I added plenty of ground cardamom and vanilla and the result is an eye-poppingly purple and deliciously moist aromatic fruit cake. Smells lovely when it’s baking – the whole house fills with the smell of spices. I’m so happy to have transformed a potentially yawn-some vegetable into a lovely tasty cake – nothing bad about that, is there?! (But please, A&C, ease up on the beetroot deliveries!)

You will need:

255g self raising wholemeal organic flour
330g grated raw beetroot
1 tsp baking powder
100g soft dark brown sugar
2 large organic eggs
100g sultanas/raisins/currants
150ml vegetable oil (use a neutral-tasting one such as rapeseed or sunflower)
2 level tsp ground cardamom (this is about 30 cardamom pods-worth)
1 tsp vanilla extract

(Got a tonne of beetroot to get through? Double or even triple the recipe and make several cakes that you can freeze.)

Preheat your oven to 180C. Line your tin with greaseproof baking paper – I used an 8-inch circular tin, but a loaf tin will do as well. Wash and peel your beetroot. Grate either by hand or use the grating attachment of a food processor to blitz it quickly. If you’re using cardamom pods, gently crush about 30 of them to release the black seeds, discard the husks then pound the seeds to a fine powder in a pestle and mortar, or blitz them in a coffee grinder. If you can buy ready-ground cardamom, great! (but it will be less fragrant than crushing your own).

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar. Add the dried fruit and grated beetroot and roughly mix in. Whisk the eggs, then add along with the oil and vanilla extract. Mix everything together with an electric whisk or wooden spoon. Everything will be looking pretty purple at this stage! Do not be afraid…

Spoon the mixture into your lined tin and bake for 60 – 70 minutes at 180C. To test for done-ness, pierce the cake with a skewer and if it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Let the cake cool down on a wire rack before tipping out of the tin.

Enjoy a slice with a cup of tea and a nice sit down! I suppose you could ice this cake, but I can’t be bothered, it’s nice on its own. Keeps well in an airtight tin for about a week, and also freezes well.

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