Chocolate and beetroot cake

There are few things in life better than a two year old’s birthday. Mainly because they can’t really speak, so can’t ask for anything, so you can do what you damn well please.
I took the opportunity to make a lot of cake. And, to be honest, if B could speak, he would probably ask for a lot of cake.
I made a crunchy lemon drizzle, fairy cakes decorated with lavender and blackberries, their icing perfumed with rose water. I made raspberry friands and I made Pimms. Well, a girl’s got to drink.
But the show stopper was the beetroot and chocolate birthday cake I made from Fiona Cairns’ Bake and Decorate book. With so many sugary confections, I really felt that I needed to make at least one hearty cake, and the beetroot cake certainly falls in to that category – in a good way.
It was amazing to make, there’s something incredible about the colour of beetroot, even when mixed with chocolate. And it was hugely popular, pretty much devoured immediately, as you can see from the picture, well before the friands and fairy cakes.
Chocolate and beetroot cake
Serves 10
Start to finish: ooh, an hour in the oven and 5 minutes icing.
180ml sunflower oil, plus more for the tin
190g self raising flour
60g cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250g golden caster sugar (I used normal)
250g cooked (not pickled!) beetroot
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the icing
200g icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly oil a 23cm diameter round tin, using a kitchen towel. Line the base with baking parchment.
In a large bowl sift together the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda, then stir in the sugar. In a food processor, puree the beetroot, then scrape it into a sieve set over a bowl and push out the juices with the back of a spoon. Set them aside for the icing. Tip the beetroot pulp back into the food processor, then, with the motor running, add the eggs and vanila, then slowly pour in the oil. Mix until blended.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the beetroot mixture and, with a large spoon, gently fold together. Pour into the tin and bake for 45-50 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. This took my oven significantly longer to achieve, about an hour. She suggests that if the cake starts to brown too much before it is fully cooked, cut a round piece of foil the diameter of the cake, make a large hole in the centre and open it up. Place it over the cake to let out steam and protect the edges of the top surface.
Remove the cake from the oven, leave it for 5-10 minutes in the tin, then turn it out on to a wire rack until completely cold.
Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Stir in a few drops of the reserved beetroot juice. The icing should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If not, add water, drop by drop, until you achieve the correct consistency. Turn the cake over, so the base becomes a flat top, and spread the icing evenly over, letting it drizzle down the sides. Claire
Lucy says: “Loved the cake. Icing was one beetroot too far”


  1. A great birthday tea!!!! Beetroot and chocolate cake sounds interesting, never tried it, will have to now.

  2. Loving the look of that cake, amazing! You are a cake machine.

  3. I love chocolate and beetroot cake. So moist and earthy and chocolatey. Yum!

    Little Tums

  4. My wife insisted on trying this…and you know what? It actually works! great recipe!

  5. Have faith – of course it works! But glad you liked it…

  6. How do you cook the beefwood first??

  7. Hello, I buy ready-cooked vacuum packed, for about 60p per 250g. But if you are cooking your own, boiled or roasted is fine. Just peel once they are cooked and stick a fork in them to check they are soft.

  8. That looks fab! This is perhaps a silly question but does it taste beetrooty? I’m not that keen on beetroot, but am intruiged all the same!

  9. The cake tastes earthy and rich, but not particularly beetroot-y. The icing was a little bit more beetroot-y but that was by accident rather than design! Accidentally squidged too much beetroot through the sieve, just use colouring if you’re worried.


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