Moist Chocolate and Beet Cake

Have you dared to try it?
I’ve put it off for years but the time for testing and tasting is finally here!

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Beetroot in a cake??!!!

‘Chocolate beetroot cake,’ has been a phrase that has both intrigued and repulsed me for YEARS!   No, I just couldn’t do it.  So many opportunities to do a trial and so many reasons to not go there. Please, don’t get me wrong, I am a big beetroot fan in its many of its guises; most importantly; a burger is no burger of mine without it.  But, no matter how many people said a beetroot chocolate cake was all kinds of wonderful, I just couldn’t make the leap….until today.

When I decided to listen to my family and post reviews of the recipes I tested, I knew there were 2 recipes that I have avoided for decades yet, never been able to let go of.

Time to make the plunge; this Moist Chocolate Beet Cake recipe is originally by Nigel Slater but I found it via David Lebovitz website.  I followed the recipe to the letter, although I did not have an 8 inch springform so used a 7 inch and had batter left over.  You definitely need an 8 inch and in fact I probably could have used a 9 inch pan.

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Beautiful, just set and wobbly in the centre
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Sank a little while cooling. Not a big deal. Maybe another 5 minutes in the oven?
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Looking pretty with the entire tub of creme fraiche poured over it, and sprinkled with poppy seeds

 

 

Bliss

 

“A beautifully textured cake, full of deep chocolate flavour and just enough sweetness to balance the bitterness of the cocoa. If you  like chocolate and beetroot paired, this is a spectacular recipe!  For the adventurous, definitely try it, you might find you enjoy it.”

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Do I have a good recipe for…heart emojiheart emojiheart emojiheart emojiheart emoji

tickGluten free substitution suitable.   I would feel happy to bake this cake with a gluten free flour substitute.  It may have a slightly gummy feel to it though.  Another option would be to substitute half almond meal and half gluten free flour.  I feel all almond meal would change the texture too much.

tickUnrefined sugar substitution suitable.  This cake would actually take on a whole new complexity of flavour using coconut sugar or rapadura sugar.  The caramel flavours of these sugars would really give you a lovely depth of flavour.  To avoid grittiness, process the sugar until it is finer before you use them.  Raw castor sugar or Stevia would also work.

tickRecipe as written, is nut free.

DeleteRed Not dairy free.  The flavour that is added by this amount of butter would make it difficult to change out for anything else.

when nothing goes right go  left
Image from www.upnorth.com

What would I change?  As a chocolate beet cake it was beautiful, I wouldn’t change it at all.  Although, I found the flavour of beetroot had mellowed even more after 2-3 days.Since I am a big believer of allowing chocolate cakes time to develop in flavour, I would even consider making it 2 days ahead of serving.

I personally, would consider cutting the beetroot with some green apple to help smooth the transition between chocolate and beetroot.  But hey, that’s just me!

To ‘Bliss’ it, I would serve it with sour cream on the side to give it a punchier flavour and a creamier accompaniment.  Creme fraiche was a little bit delicate in flavour and texture for me and I didn’t really think the poppy seeds did anything for it.  I would consider a really airy cream cheese frosting for it as well, but it would definitely have to be whipped within an inch of its life!

Wow, so there it is; Nigel Slater’s Moist Chocolate and Beet Cake.  What a great start!

I hope you  have enjoyed my first recipe review, and found it useful?  Would love to hear what you think.

See you next time 😉 X

PS if you are looking to get a springform pan, it is definitely worth spending a little bit more money to get one that won’t leak!
This is a link to Amazon.com, for a particularly highly rated tin by Kaiser, that won’t break the bank.


Kaiser Bakeware Noblesse 8-Inch Round Non-Stick Springform Pan

Have you got a good recipe for…?

Trials and tribulations, we all have them; they never stop coming at us.

But, when we go looking for trials…well, that is another matter altogether!  Usually, I am not expecting tribulations to come along with these trials though 🙂

Lucille Ball chocolate face
Yep, sometimes things just don’t work out!

I get asked for recipes, A LOT!  And, since the only way I actually find good recipes is by trialling them, I thought you might like to see what I trial, how they turn out and how I rate them.

In fact, the internet is so choc-a-block full of recipes that it is nearly impossible for you to know if they are really any good so, if you have any recipes that you have had your eye on and you would like me to trial and rate, send them through to0!  I’ll pick and choose some to bake up and post.

I’m also going to pop a little tick box section about whether the recipe is, or can, substitute ingredients for;

gluten free

unrefined sugar

dairy free

nut free

I have yet to come across a really good substitute for egg so at this point I don’t feel confident to add that to the list.  (if you have any recipes you would like me to trial for eggless cake, PLEASE shoot it through!  I’ve trialled some really bad ones blech!!!)

I am aiming to post my first recipe review on Saturday, and I would love your feedback!.

Cheers L x

 

Josephine Baker Jaffa

Allen’s Jaffas, staple of all Aussie kid’s lolly bags; that was all this cake was going to be about.Simple to make, accessible and relatable, that’s what we want, isn’t it?

But, as I wandered around the market, all I could see were ‘slurp-alicious’, juicy, sweet navel oranges. Fresh juice and zest with Dutch cocoa, were always going to be a part of a Jaffa cake but the more I thought about it the more I needed to make some home made, fresh orange juice jelly to give it zing. I smothered it all in dark chocolate ganache and KAPOW :), I had it.

Rich, fudgy, full of real, fresh, flavours.

Zingy, fresh orange juice jelly cuts through a rich and fudgy, jaffa flavoured, chocolate cake.
Zingy, fresh orange juice jelly cuts through a rich and fudgy, jaffa flavoured, chocolate cake.

Now I had caked myself into a corner; with all this real, home made style flavour and texture; how was I going to incorporate my bag of supermarket lollies?  Jaffas are most notable as being the confection of choice in the day, to be rolled down cinema aisles (yes, pre-carpet!) and thrown at people from the balconies?!  Besides eat the whole lot myself I just couldn’t see how I was going to use them.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love my supermarket lollies, or else I wouldn’t have bought them to make the cake in the first place, but I was feeling really stuck now.

As I was playing around, a  little skirt of Jaffas started building up around the cake and suddenly….
I thought of Josephine Baker!

Beautiful, graceful and elegant Josephine Baker
Beautiful, graceful and elegant Josephine Baker

Her incredible style, grace and beauty contrasted with her sense of humour and willingness to do (and wear) the bizarre and ridiculous; the idea just somehow seemed to work with this juxtaposition of home made and commercial flavours and textures.

Josephine's famous banana skirt!
Josephine’s famous banana skirt!

Call me mad, but I topped the cocoa dusted cake with a little kiss curl of Jaffas and some pretty flowers, and thought it worked great!  All in the Josephine Baker tradition of  beauty and artistic expression through the quirky, and the contrasting.

 

Crazy combination that works... I think?!
Crazy combination that works… I think?!

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Kooky, quirky and humorous Josephine Baker.  What would she think?
Kooky, quirky and humorous Josephine Baker. What would she think?
    Bliss’ delicious Josephine Baker Jaffa Cake, what do you think Jo Jo?

Feel free to drop me a comment if you would like me to post the recipe!

If you are enjoying being ‘blissed’, don’t forget to subscribe to my email list or follow me on wordpress to see all my latest ramblings 🙂

 

 

“Princess”, The ‘Pain In The Arse’ Sourdough Starter

Once upon a time, there was an innocent, novice, bread baker who started to notice a little chill in the air. The days began to grow shorter, and the leaves on the trees turned yellow. She knew Autumn had arrived, and those long cold days of Winter were only just around the corner.
As always, her thoughts turned to food. She reminisced fondly of the previous Winter; great steaming bowls of veggie packed soups, served with toasted slices of sourdough bread, mmmmm. That simple combination made for delicious and healthy lunches, while fulfilling the comfort factor that was required to satisfy her soul in the middle of Winter, even when served over the stainless steel bench of the staff cafeteria.

Hot and hearty soup with a slice or two of sourdough on the side. Ooooh, great Winter lunch!
Hot and hearty soup with a slice or two of sourdough on the side. Ooooh, great Winter lunch!

But wait, a marvellous thought came to our idealistic baking heroine! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to bake her own sourdough bread, warm and inviting, ready to be sliced and toasted, to serve with nourishing bowls of goodness ladled from great steaming pots. Her minds eye could see the great soup vat sitting atop the old wood fired, kitchen stove, wafting steam and emanating wonderful aromas, that seemed to be an invisible invitation to all and sundry; “Come, pull up a chair around the great wooden table and sup ’til you are filled.” A truly vivid imagination does our innocent bread baker have, given that she knows full well only 2 people in her entire extended family of 10, will come anywhere close to eating sourdough bread with soup for a meal. (and, she has no such wood fired stove!)
But, our heroine is nothing if not tenacious. Her single minded determination, to make a sourdough bread that she felt was of standard, led her to reach her hand into the dark recesses of the fridge and pull out a sourdough starter that had taken up residence in the back of the fridge.
Oh what a sad, sorry and *’hooch’ drowned sight that starter was! Our novice bread baker had neglected the poor starter due to ignorance (and a punishing work/family schedule!), and was immediately faced with a long, slow road to try and breathe life back into the struggling mass of living beings she had so cheerfully thrown together several months before.
She dutifully fed and watered said mess, and waited…and waited. Not surprisingly, in hindsight, nothing much happened.

*Hooch is the liquid that separates from the starter.

Many, many websites were read, to find the answer to her dilemma, but it was all so confusing!
One writer wrote of the confusion for novice sourdough bakers being that they keep too much starter. Our innocent baker would say that the crux of the confusion for novices is that there is too much freedom in the world of sourdough bread!
What is the one best way to feed a starter? The one best recipe? The one best technique? The one best flour?
It doesn’t exist, of course!
The whole point of sourdough bread is that it is baking bread using only natural yeast, as the ancients did. Which ancients are they, our intrepid heroine asked? Whichever, bread eating ancient civilisation, you may wish to poke a stick at, is the general answer!

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This is the loaf we have liked the best so far. Thick chewy crust, spongey texture, and a mild refined taste.

So, in her Zen sourdough moment, when the light finally penetrated through the fog, the answer was revealed to her.
All techniques, all cultural differences, and all things are equal. You need to find your own path.

The innocent little baker, was delighted! She was free, free to be herself; to learn and create.
Oh, you should have seen her scouring websites with renewed vigour in order to understand the science, trying to digest the ramblings of water and flour ratios. Wrapping her head around the intricacies of activating a fridge bound starter, and since she is actually a biologist at heart; throwing herself into experiments to mark the timing of growth and visually interpreting the different stages of her starter sponge.

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My happy little girl, bubbling and gurgling away. Now that I know how to make her happy!

Then, one afternoon, she stumbled upon the fact, that it is traditional (somewhere or another) to name your starter. Of course…it is a living thing after all!

It was actually an easier task than she had imagined. She had read of people giving their aspirating, wet, doughy lumps, such uncouth names as, “Creature” or “Thing” and no matter how she considered it, that train of thought just didn’t seem right to her. In a flash of genius, over a hot cup of tea, she realized that her starter was;

  • born of white flour and *honey, with a little help from commercial yeast
  • a pain in her arse
  • that she had no idea how to make it happy
  • it had taken a considerable amount of investment on her behalf to learn about its moods
  • it took forever to get ready when she needed it
  • it was refined and didn’t smell too bad 😉

and, that no matter all its shortcomings, she loved it!

*Honey is a stupid choice, as it is an antimicrobial and we are trying to grow yeast and bacteria! Who came up with that recipe?

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“Princess” was an obvious choice 🙂

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Princess has now leavened (slowly, ‘though successfully) 4 loaves of mild and refined white, sourdough bread to the bakers great delight! Lovely toasted and perfect for soup, yes, there was success for our happy baker!

Bliss!

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The most beautiful loaf so far! Who is the fairest of them all?

PS: For those who may be interested, I am noting down a few things that I learned about feeding and starting Princess, I hope it helps you in your journey, and if not, at least I have it all written down for my own reference!!

To feed only
Keep 30g of Princess and throw the rest away
Mix in 30g of water, incorporating plenty of air
Mix in 24g of plain flour and 6g of rye flour
Leave to sit on bench for at least an hour
Refrigerate

To build up enough Princess for baking
Take Princess out of the fridge 2 nights before you wish to bake
Empty all of Princess out into large bowl
Mix in 65g water, incorporating plenty of air
Mix in 65g plain flour
Cover loosely and leave overnight

Next morning
Mix in 125g water, incorporating plenty of air
Mix in 125g plain flour
Cover loosely and leave for the day

That evening
Up to 250g of Princess is ready to be mixed into bread recipe to be rested over night!
Spoon 30g of Princess into clean jar and feed according to feed only instructions, ready for next bake.

If you are enjoying being ‘blissed’, don’t forget to subscribe to my email list or follow me on wordpress to see all my latest ramblings 🙂

 

First Birthday Present from Bliss :)

Classic Chocolate Celebrate. 4 layers of fudgey chocolate cake, fully frosted with white chocolate, Italian meringue buttercream. THE Bliss Chocolate Birthday Cake

Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday to all of yooooo—hooooo, happy birthday to you!

Do you have one of those months on your calender where you know that as soon as the 1st roles around your bank account is not going to look the same again until the whole 4.3 weeks are over?  Sudden retail frenzy descends, where you seem to be at the shopping centre every other day, racking your brains for another appropriate gift?  August is one of those months.  3 birthdays in my immediate little family alone, then there are the cousins and best friends and the new babies and now….Bliss!

Well, everything is about perspective isn’t it?  I could moan and complain about all the commitments ahead of me or I could see this month as the biggest opportunity to party…EVER!

And, what is the best thing about a party?  Presents 🙂

But, instead of expecting any presents…I want to give one away for Bliss’ First Birthday !!! One lucky person will receive a Chocolate Celebrate cake AND an order of Choc Orange flourless cakelets.

All you have to do is tell me what was your most memorable birthday present, EVER,  to go into a draw to win this great Birthday treat!

Flourless Chocolate and Orange cakelets. Deliciously indulgent, perfectly suited for a celebration.

Match Made in Heaven

It has been about 6 months now, and like all good relationships glimpses of what make me tick are starting to surface!  What better way to celebrate Bliss’ 6 month anniversary than with Valentine’s day…yes, I’m excited just thinking about it…

Perfect 'Bliss' Valentine

I have been through the usual female drama of decision making at its highest level; what sparkling wine should I drink, which chocolate cake will not only make me, but all chocolate lovers weak at the knees?  Well, after about a month of deliberation (yes, it took me nearly a month to decide!), speaking to every wine buff I know, and a few at the liquor stores whom I don’t know.  I finally decided on the Grant Burge sparkling shiraz, to matchmake with my gooey, indulgent Bliss.

I am definitely no wine expert, I only know as much as, what I like.  So, in that spirit, I took one look at the half dozen varieties on the shelf and immediately fell in love with the Grant Burge.  I have always been a big fan of the Maclarenvale reds and the lovely Grant Burge label was no exception.  So, to discover that they had their own version of a uniquely Australian, sparkling shiraz, I was already sold, hook, line and sinker!  Not to mention the visual appeal of the romantic, old fashioned bottle and label.  Too pretty!

My match made in heaven

On getting my test bottle home and chilled, I set up for my mini photo shoot.  I was trying to be SERIOUSLY patient but it took about 5 minutes before the bottle found its way into the kitchen to be popped and poured (technical wine afficionado speak!).  Could I wait for my sneak sip?  NO!!  It was what I was hoping for, just enough sweetness, full and flavoursome, and lots of creamy bubbles.

I am definitely going to enjoy my Bliss and Grant Burge pairing on Valentine’s day and as a  Valentine’s present will be planning a little trip to discover more of the handmade chocolate delights Victoria has to offer. Still deciding which artisan chocolatier to visit right now.  But, more of that another day!