an un-beet-able cake

I am not a girl who loves pink. But I am now a girl who loves pink cakes. The recipe that I have to share with you today might just be the best combination of vegetable, sugar, and butter that I have ever eaten or will ever hope to eat again. It’s moist, it’s chocolaty, and it’s got a cream cheese frosting that’ll knock your socks off.  But there’s a secret ingredient. Have you guessed it? Let’s stop beeting around the bush: this baby’s made with beets.

Trust me on this, o ye of little beet faith (and o ye of little pink food faith). Read on to learn how to bring this cake to a kitchen near you.

chocolate beet cake
Adapted from Joy the Baker

the cake:

2 medium beets, roasted (remember how?)
3/4 cup butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pans
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour, plus more for dusting the pans
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

the frosting:

1 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated beets
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon milk
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Take those beets you so expertly roasted in advance and grate finely.  Measure 3/4 cup of grated beets for the cake and 2 tablespoons for the frosting.  Set aside.

Next we prepare our pans. I used two 9-inch round pans, but 8-inch would work well, too. Grease both pans with butter.  Get out your craft supplies and trace two circles of parchment paper so they are the same size as the bottoms of the cake pans.  Cut them out and place inside the pans.  Butter the parchment paper.  Add a dusting of flour. Nicely done. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the softened butter and sugars.  Beat until fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, for one minute after each addition.  Finally, beat in beets (fun with homonyms!) and vanilla until thoroughly combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture.  Beat on low speed while slowly adding the buttermilk.  Once just blended, add the other half of the dry ingredients.  Beat until just blended.  You don’t want to overmix the batter. Also note, this batter will be thick, real thick.

Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans.  Bake for 23 to 25 minutes for 9-inch pans, or about 5 minutes longer if you’re using 8-inch pans.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Invert cakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely before assembling and frosting.

While your cakes are baking and cooling, you can get to work on creating some gorgeous pink frosting. In a medium-sized bowl, beat cream cheese for 30 seconds, until smooth.  Add the butter and beat for another 30 seconds. Beat in the beets.  Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, milk, lemon juice, and salt.  Beat until smooth.

Refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes before frosting the cooled cakes.

And now, assemble! To keep things tidy, put some pieces of parchment paper between the bottom layer of your cake and the dish you’ll be serving it on, but keep the pieces small enough so you can easily pull them out when you’re finished frosting. Top the first layer of cake generously with frosting.  Spread evenly.  Place the other cake on top.  Top with more frosting.  Frost the sides. Frost everything. You’ll have extra (unless you go totally crazy on the cake). Frost your bagel, frost your cat, frost your friends. Kidding about the last part (though the bagel might be a good idea).

Refrigerate your cake for one hour before serving to ease the slicing process. Enjoy with a glass of milk, obviously.

A hint when serving this to friends and family: people can be weird about beets. People don’t realize just how incredible beets are, especially when baked into a cake. So keep that little detail–that a major ingredient of the cake is beets–a secret until after you’ve had your beet-hater friends try it. I swear, they’ll adore every bite and you’ll be converting folks into beet-philes (beetniks?) in no time.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Beautiful! It sounds very similar to my beetroot cupcakes – I posted them a while back. They went down very well as I’m sure this did!

  2. lovemypinklife says:

    It looks amazing!!! Congrats 🙂

  3. Helen says:

    claire, this is quite possibly one of the most beautiful desserts i have ever seen.

  4. Mary Lewandoski says:

    Well I decided to make the cake and bring it to work for a going away party. It was a hit even though was up until midnight since I started roasting beets at 7:00 pm and had to work with “soupy” icing since I ran out of powdered sugar. Oh well- looked more like a thick glaze but was a great success even with a few middle schoolers! Anyhow, thanks for the great recipe. Look forward to your next creation.

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