What is it?: A beetroot cake with cherries and almonds
Occasion: Band of Bakers ‘Vegetable Bakes’ event
This is the second time I have pulled something from ‘Short and Sweet’ out of the bag for a Band of Bakers event (you may remember the bourbon pecan brownies I made for the ‘Winter Warmers’ event back in November) and I have studied the book so meticulously that I can now spot when anybody else uses one of the recipes. I have often caught somebody’s eye across their cake and with a knowing look asked them “Dan Lepard?” I think I’m getting into serious geek territory here. Anyway, in January we decided upon ‘Vegetable Bakes’ as our theme in the spirit of healthy eating and new year austerity. Of course, by the time the event rolled around on 23rd, most people had abandoned the idea of detox and were tucking into the wine and cake, but the thought was there. There were two possibilities for this event, the other being the ginger root cake, but I could not resist the allure of the beetroot – and with cherries! This just had to be done.
Of course, the range of vegetables that can actually be baked into a cake is quite small (celery torte, anyone?) so there were several beetroot cakes, however most of them also contained chocolate. This is a pretty classic combination, in fact, we had chocolate beetroot brownies and the first ever Band of Bakers and they were delicious. This cake is a little different – the addition of dried sour cherries, ground almonds and a little red wine vinegar makes it something akin to a bakewell tart. The cake mix itself is very dense, almost worryingly so, however it turns into a robust cake with a tight crumb that still retains a great deal of moistness from the grated beets. The cake is baked in two sandwich tins, and a sprinkling of cinnamon crumble added to one. Once cooled, these are then sandwiched together with a spread of cherry preserves and some whipped cream. I made this cake twice – once using Hartley’s black cherry jam and once using Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference red cherry preserves and ultimately preferred the latter. It is also great on toast. Waste not, want not.
The thing I love most about this cake is that when you’ve had a slice, you KNOW you’ve had a slice. The combination of fruit, vegetables, jam, cream and crumble is so substantial that you would be hard pushed to manage a second helping. The perfect cake to eat before a long winter walk or when yo simply want to be a glutton. I would rather like it made in a square tin and used as a base of some kind of bakewell-trifle hybrid.
In Other News
Last weekend I had a sandwich from Spit and Roast at Brockley Market. Buttermilk fried chicken, red cabbage slaw and Korean hot sauce in a floury bap. I was nursing a hangover from spending eight hours in an underground Soho karaoke bar the night before and was in need of some serious sustenance. This absolutely did not disappoint – the fried chicken was beautifully moist without being greasy and the sauce was just spicy enough to make me forget about any booze-blues I was harbouring. Everybody else thought I was mad not to go for the burgers, but one sight of the chicken made them rethink their choice. I think I’ll be spotting a few of my friends in the Spit and Roast queue this week…
Spit and Roast (at various locations across London – check their website for details)
Brockley Markey, Lewisham College Car Park, Lewisham Way SE4 1UT