Thursday, April 12, 2012

What's In a Name Cake

At first glance, I bet you're thinking this is some kind of a cranberry or dried cherry cake that I baked today...nope!  Before I let out the secret, I need to give you the background of why I came up with this.

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.

Jam Glaze:
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!


  1. Hi Susan....At first, I thought how unusual to add beets....but I love beets...and, after all, we sometimes put grated carrots in a cake. So, I say, gold stars for your memory cake!

    1. I want to assure everyone, even if you don't like beets, you'll love this cake. The beets add moisture and yes, some color. I've used cooked beets lots of times before in my chocolate cake--you get a wonderful "red velvet" look without the fear of artificial color in your dessert.
      Meggie, I hope the bad weather in Texas isn't anywhere near you or your daughter. Stay safe, XOXO

  2. You talking about your dad reminds me of my grandpa that I just adored! Enjoy your memories - that's the best thing to do with them. :)

  3. How wonderful you speak of the love of parents. My own husband is like your Dad and always thinks everything I make is wonderful. The beets in this cake sound wonderful to me and quite creative! How wonderful that baking brings back our loved ones!
    Martha Ellen

  4. Your dad was my kind of guy! What a great way to pay tribute to him:) I have never been a beet eater, but I know I'd love this, and it looks so pretty too!

  5. Interesting. Beets. My mom loved to eat beets. I don't care for them. But this really looks good and intriguing!!

  6. I have a story about a mistake ingredient, too. I was at my friend(more like my "adopted family") house and it was thanksgiving time. Guess I was around 16 yrs. old or so and we were making the pies. I was putting in the spices for pumpkin pie. Sue (my friend, yes another sue) looked at the pie and said looks different, oh well put it in the oven. while the pies were cooking we cleaned up and sue says why is the chili powder out? I gasped and said oh no! I must of grabbed the that instead of cinnamon. I'm so sorry I ruined the pumpkin pie. she said don't worry about it and we proceeded to make a new pie but in the mean time carm (her husband who treated me like his daughter even though they are only about 10 yrs. older than me) boy this story is sure rambling anyway to finish.....Carm ate the pie and said it has a bit of a tang taste to it, interesting pie. stamping sue

    1. I love your story and I wish my Mom was still around to know that it can happen to anyone. She felt so badly that she had "ruined" a whole pot of chili, but my Dad said, "don't throw it out...I'll eat it!" Husbands can be pretty great sometimes:-D

  7. This looks amazing! And, it gives me a great idea for a red hot red velvet cake I have in the works...I will definitely try the beets. I'm extremely intrigued. Great story!! My mom once added salt instead of sugar into hot chocolate, once. A big Monday AM HUG to you, my friend!!! :)