I just spent a beautiful two days at our house in the Oderbruch, about an hour outside of Berlin. Whilst autumn in the city is slowly but surely starting to get on my nerves, cold, wet, grey, public transport swamped, too many grumpy people and the list goes on, autumn in the countryside really is one of my favourite seasons. The light, the colours, the fresh air.
Out here, I can take time to do a lot of things that at home I would take for granted. Apart from all the work that still needs to be done to refurbish our little apartment in the house, growing and nurturing the veggie garden, harvesting our own apples, pears and grapes, collecting firewood to heat up the fireplace, and keeping the fire going all suddenly become daily tasks. That means I spent a lot less time in front of my computer, checking my mails or my phone, or zapping through superfluous tv-shows. Also, from all the fresh air I'm a lot less fidgety in the evenings, and sleep a lot calmer and deeper. The only downside: at the moment, I only get to spent every other weekend here. You can find more pictures of our little autumn adventure here.
However, I try to take a little of that self-supporting mentality back to the city. So this year, I started growing a lot of veggies on my balcony. I started out with loads of tomato seedlings (of which only 5 plants survived and yielded), thyme, chard, spinach, carrots (they remained tiny, yet so flavoursome), parsnips (unfortunately decided it didn't want to grow beyond 2 cm tall) and beetroot - and that one really worked out well.
I guess, beetroot is something about which opinions differ widely - an either-you-hate-it-or-love-it kind of thing. But maybe - just maybe - I can convince some of you unbelievers out there, with this super fudgy deep dark rosemary-infused beetroot & chocolate cake. I know, I know, I'm a little late to the party, beetroot chocolate cake is old news. I say: What the heck! Better late than never, and it's worth it! So get your hands red, cut some beets, and come join me at my little party :-)
Plus, the beets bring a lovely moisture to the cake and I just love that red-velvetty color the batter gets when adding them. When are you ever gonna get a colour like that without using artificial colouring. Nature just rocks.
- 2 - 3 medium red beets
- 4 - 5 sprigs of rosemary
- a lug of sunflower oil
- 460 ml almond-coconut milk (or whatever milk you like, this is what I had at disposal)
- 130 g coconut blossom sugar
- 80 g coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 300 g white spelt flour (type 630)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 100 g fair-trade organic cacao powder
- pinch of salt
- 100 g chocolate chips
- 1 - 2 tbsp icing sugar to dust
- optional: 400 ml coconut milk (chilled overnight) for coconut whipped cream
The night before, prepare the beets. In case you get real fresh beets, chop of the greens and don't throw away (you can prepare them like spinach or chard and eat them as a pre-cake-snack or for lunch with some pasta). As I grew and harvested my own I didn't feel the need to peel them, just washed them thoroughly. If you can't get organic ones, I would suggest to roughly peel them.
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with some parchment paper and make a little bed of rosemary. Place the beets on top and sprinkle on some coconut blossom sugar and pour on a lug of sunflower oil. With a thread, tie the ends of the parchment paper together so you get a little parcel. Bake for about 20 - 30 minutes until a knife cuts through the beets easily. Let them cool completely inside the parcel. I put mine in the fridge over night. This will help the beets infuse some of that lovely rosemary aroma.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Using a hand blender, purée the beets until there are no lumps left. If you want to intensify the rosemary flavour, take a few of the baked sprigs and blend them together with the beets.
3. Mix together all the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, vanilla and cacao powder.
4. Heat the coconut oil just until it's liquid. Now add the coconut oil, milk and mashed beetroot, whisking all the way, so you don't get any lumps. Best to use an electric whisk or stand mixer.
5. Lastly add the chocolate chips.
6. Generously grease a cake tin (30cm diameter) and sprinkle with flour. Pour in the batter. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes.
7. In case you want to serve with some coconut whipped cream, follow these instructions here by the Minimalist Baker.
8. Let the cake cool in the tin for about 15 - 20 minutes (especially important in case you're using a gugelhupf tin like me). Turn the cake out of the tin, and let cool another 15 minutes before dusting with icing sugar. As you can imagine, this cake tastes especially great when it's still a little warm. Serve with coconut whipped cream and just enjoy. :-)
Go to [Culinary] Travels - Autumn in the Oderbruch to see more pictures of our lovely weekend amongst apple trees and wine orchards.