Today would have been my dad's 92nd birthday and I wanted to bake something that would have intrigued him. First, I will tell you in the almost 50 years my parents were married, there isn't one thing my mother made that my dad didn't eat. In fact, I've shared before that he even ate the chili she made one afternoon for him, my brother and brother-in-law who had been cutting firewood, but mistakenly added cloves instead of chili powder to it. Can't you just imagine how bad it must have tasted, but he ate the bowlful of chili she ladled up when the other two declined after one bite! And, especially with dessert, everything my mother would bake, he'd say that was his favorite. Whether it be lemon meringue pie, chocolate cake, or a simple cobbler, and watching him enjoy every bite made me think, "this is true love!"
The secret ingredient is Beets, but more specifically a raw, grated beet that I incorporated into a spiced cake with roasted walnuts and hazelnuts, and some bittersweet chocolate chips for good measure. Don't turn up your noses until you try this combination; I guarantee you'll love it.
Spiced Beet and Nut Cake
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup + 2T granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup peeled, grated raw beets (about 1 large or 2 small)
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. cardamon
1 3/4 +2 T King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 cup milk
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
2/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
4T jam, warmed
Preheat oven to 375F-degrees. Spray 2 9"x5" loaf pans or a 10-cup ring cake mold with a non-stick baking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk the oil and sugar together. Add the eggs and whisk until a light lemony color, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spices and stir to combine.
Use plastic gloves to peel and grate the beets, then, add them to the batter.
Add the dry ingredients and milk and stir to combine, using a spatula--don't over mix. Add the roasted nuts and chocolate chips. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven 30 to 35 minutes for ring mold, 40 to 45 minutes for loaves or until a wooden skew poked in the center comes out clean.
I did the "double dish" trick on the ring mold--after the cake cools for 5 to 7 minutes, place a plate on top and turn out the cake, then place the serving plate on the bottom and flip it so the top of the cake is right side up again.
4 T jam ( I used a Strawberry/Peach, but Apricot, Peach, even a Raspberry would work--your choice!)
Heat jam in a small sauce pan. Use a pastry brush and coat the top of the cake with the glaze.
The glaze adds that glistening that makes this cake look like the special occasion dessert I wanted it to be.
"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love,
the things you are,
the things you never want to lose."
Days like today are hard, but keeping these memories dear in your heart certainly helps. Enjoy!