Monday, 8 February 2010

Beetroot Cake, Tidy Fridges & St Valentine's Day (egg free, dairy free,gluten free, sugar free (optional)

with swirly 'butter' icing
A friend of a friend once spent time photographing the inside of people’s refrigerators, because apparently the inside of your fridge says a lot about you. I find that kind of theory a bit unsettling because I know what’s coming next; tidy fridge = tidy mind.

Tidiness has always been a problem for me. I can still hear my Mother’s frustration at my untidy room and feel the sense of failure as I didn’t meet her tidy standards. She wasn’t alone in her belief that being tidy is important, it’s the majority view;
‘Tidiness Is Next To Godliness’
‘A Tidy House Is The Sign Of A Tidy Mind’
‘Be Tidy Or Be Forever Damned And Reviled By Society’.

I may have made a few of those up, or misquoted them, but you get the point. Faced with this tidiness moralising, there is really only one way for the truly untidy person to respond; by being bullish.

How many times have I mock shuddered at freakishly tidy homes and said things like, ‘Eeew, so neat, I bet they are crap in bed’. I know that’s not logical but it makes me feel better to be really mean. Or I might shake my head and say in pseudo-psychiatric tones, ‘It’s just not healthy to be that tidy, it’s clearly undiagnosed OCD, they’ll be on Prozac before they’re 50’. Yes, my bullish stance is a textbook reaction to a subject (tidiness, not OCD) that goes to the heart of my feelings of inadequacy.

You see, really, deep down, I wish I could be tidy. I wish I had the sort of house where people gasp in delight as they enter. Have you noticed that people only do that in tidy homes? In untidy homes they say things like, ‘Oh your house is so homely, it’s so....cosy’.

I also wish I could be bothered to tidy. It’s a myth that naturally tidy people do it effortlessly, they don’t. They spend hours ordering their lives and thinking about where stuff should go. Having a neat house is a priority and they do things like finish one job before they start another. They actually allocate blocks of time to organising, rather than doing it when they can no longer see the sofa.

However, there is a school of thought that maintains that untidy people do have systems to organise their lives, it’s just that the logic of those systems is not visible to others. Let’s take an example; I want you to think about the last bill you received. Where is it? If you are a tidier, it’s probably filed neatly somewhere. If you are a muddler, you might not have filed it, but you have a rough idea of where it is, don’t you? It’s in a pile somewhere. You might not be able to put your hand on it instantly, but after muddling around for 10 minutes you’ll get there won’t you? So perhaps a rigid filing system is not necessary. You either invest loads of time setting up the system at the outset, (and then more time nagging your husband to get him to adhere to it), or you use that time to do fun stuff and when push comes to shove, rummage around swearing under your breath until you find the car registration document/whatever.

So all of that brings me rather circuitously to my latest recipe and the state of my fridge. You’ll be happy to know that my fridge is a true reflection of my creative, colourful, vibrant personality. Yeah, it’s a mess. And sometimes even I get fed up of the mess, so the other day I cracked and tidied it. In doing so I found the pack of beetroot I bought a while ago to try out a beetroot cake idea. With only days before its sell-by date was up, I decided to give my recipe a whirl.

Et viola le résultat; pinky beetroot cakes of love, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Hey, I tell you what; I bet St Valentine was a messy bugger; all throbbing passion, clothes strewn everywhere but full of life-affirming lurrve. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Beetroot Cake (makes 24 cupcakes or a 20x25cm traybake)
 By some curious process, all the beetroot disappears into the cake and you can't see it.  Re: the icing, I do love the look of the swirly icing in the first photo, but I'm not that keen on butter icing.  So I had a go with glace icing too (2nd photo); you must choose whichever one is right for you.  I tried making this with agave nectar a couple of times, you can do that or use 'normal' sugar.  And finally, this is an eggless cake; they are just not needed in the recipe.  If you are desperate to add eggs, let's see, try using 2 eggs instead of the ground linseeds, and please report back; I'll shower you with praise!

All versions:
275g pre-cooked beetroot (in that plastic, shrink-wrapped packaging)
3 tbsps ground linseeds
4 tbsps rice milk or other milk (maybe not breast milk...)
180g sugar OR 10 tbsps of Agave nectar
110ml oil (I used sunflower oil)
100g dried cranberries or raisins
½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground cinammon
¼ ground ginger

GF version:
195g brown rice flour
30g ener-g rice bran
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsps GF baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150ml rice milk/other milk

Wheat flour version:
230g wholemeal wheat flour
¼ tsp xanthan gum (in an emergency you can probably scrape by without it)
2 tsps GF baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150ml rice milk/other milk

For swirly butter icing:
100g dairy free margarine (or butter if you can)
3 tbsps agave nectar
3 tbsps maple syrup
(or about 70g icing sugar, sifted, if you don't want to use nectar and syrup)
3 tbsps beetroot juice

For glace icing:
150g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsps of lemon juice
2 tbsps of beetroot juice
  • Heat oven to 170˚ celsius and grease and line your tray bake tin with baking parchment, or put your cupcake cases into the cupcake case tin
  • Carefully remove the beetroot from its packaging, reserving the juice. Finely grate the beetroot and place in a large mixing bowl
  • For all versions, add the linseeds, rice milk/other milk, sugar/agave nectar, oil, cranberries/raisins and spices to the mixing bowl and stir until combined
  • Add the flour (GF or Wheat), baking powder and bicarbonate of soda alternately with the rice/other milk and mix to combine.  You are looking for a mixture that will drop slowly off your wooden spoon, so add some more milk if you need to
  • Either painstakingly dollop the mixture into the individual cupcake cases, or put it in the traybake tin and level the top
  • Place in the oven and leave to cook for approximately 20-25 minutes until it is risen, golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out more or less clean (it's quite a moist cake, it may leave a bit of residue on the skewer, but not big gloops of mixture)
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool
  • If you want to use butter icing, using a hand whisk, whisk the dairy free margarine/butter with the syrup (or icing sugar).  Add the beetroot juice and feel happy at the pretty, natural colour you are beholding.  If the icing seems a bit stiff, add a tbsp of rice/other milk or a tbsps of beetroot juice
  • Use a piping bag to pipe around and around and up to a point.  Don't worry if you make a complete hash of it, no-one will mind because it looks so pretty.  And your Valentine definitely won't mind, especially if you pipe any remaining icing over strategic body parts (his/hers or yours)
  • If you want to use glace icing, sift the icing sugar and add the lemon juice and beetroot juice.  Add more icing sugar or more juice until you achieve the consistency you desire.  Mine was a tad runny, I probably should have added some more icing sugar.  Spread the icing over the cake.  Spread any remaining icing wherever you wish
  • And if you've got any doubts about using beetroot in a cake, look here at all the health benefits
  • Happy Valentine's Day!
With glace icing
© Pig in the Kitchen

All Rights Reserved


Flo'bear said...

I love you.

Seriously, I am going to be thinking about this cake until I can find some time to make it.

Cake that is GOOD FOR YOU! Gluten, egg AND sugar free! I sort of just want to roll over and die.

One question - do you know of a brand or supplier for ground linseeds? I've tried grinding them in my blender and it just doesn't work, all they do is bounce around the place and remain whole....

Flo'bear said...

ps is linseed the same as flaxseed?

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello Flo'bear, well I love you back for leaving such a sweet comment!

Hmm, now that's strange about your linseeds in the blender. I've found this site in the UK that sells ground linseeds:

but are you in the US? I'm sure you'll be able to find it there, and you're right that flaxseed and linseeds are one and the same.

the only tip for blending the linseeds might be to make sure you've got TONS of them in the blender so that the weight holds them down. I do have to sort of shake my blender around to make sure they all get ground.

Hope that helps!


Mimi said...

Pig, I love you too!

Cake for my vegan daughter- cos I can use soya or rice milk.

How did you know that I had 3 vac packs of beetroot in my fridge? For about 3 weeks now!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Mimi, well! I am loving the love in my comments box; Valentine's day is so very close now. I suspect that there are many people with vac packs of beetroot in their fridge thinking, 'now what the hell do you do with beetroot?!'. That's what I'd always thought until now. and beetroot is so very good for you, I might have to play with it more often.

Flo'bear said...

Thanks, Pig, problem solved. Invested in ground flaxseeds today, so my mysterious blender issues are now irrelevant!

Although health food store had no rice bran, for heaven's sake - I'm going to have to go ahead without and see what happens.

Off to the kitchen I go....

Iota said...

This is all very interesting, but I'm still pondering your mysterious past, when you held conversations in Russian about your bra size. You said (on Potty Mummy's blog) that you've done that several times.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Flo'bear, brilliant! Off you go and bake, try not to eat it all at once.

Iota, ha ha! Did you know I speak Russian? I must go back and check what I wrote, I knew at the time I was digging a big double G hole for myself!!!
now, straight up my word verif is 'aporan' as in 'apron'. they are messing with my mind...

elizabethm said...

I got a bit freaked out here when I read linseed oil as insect oil. uugh. what kind of insects? how come they are oily? how many do you need to have real oil? oh, sorry.
It is a hard life for us not naturally tidy people who secretly like it though. My fridge is a mess. My desk is a mess. Twice a year I tidy both of them and I love it. I can hardly bear to go to bed for the pleasure of looking at them. Maybe if I were truly tidy or truly messy I could just go with it instead of lurching about longing for some sort of magic tidiness which did not involve time or effort from me. sigh.

Flo'bear said...

Beetroot cupcakes made last night. Awaiting icing by son when he returns from school today.

Snaffled a couple yesterday - completely delicious. Only thing was for some reason mine didn't rise. Could it be the absence of the rice bran? Chemically that doesn't make sense to me.

Any advice appreciated for future batches, of which there will be many....

Pig in the Kitchen said...

ElizabethM, no I've not taken to using insects to make allergy recipes just yet, but who knows, maybe you're onto something?

You have made a very salient point about being 'truly messy'. I only have one friend who is messier than me and I think she is 'truly messy' because she doesn't give a damn.

Do you think we actually suffer from a syndrome? Let's see, we could give it an exotic name.... 'Rangement Dysfunctia' What do you think? I've used the french word for 'storage/tidying' because foreign words always make syndromes sound more legit, eg: 'Munchausen's Syndrome By Proxy' (wish I'd made that one up) and then I've thrown in some fake Latin for the same reason.

I wonder how you register a new syndrome? Off to have a look...I'll cut you a slice of the profits, ok?

Flo'bear, thanks so much for reporting back. The lack of rising is also perplexing to me. Did you compensate for the lack of rice bran by adding extra flour? Or you could try adding extra linseeds or ground sunflower seeds, instead of rice bran.

My cakes did rise, but not in the spectacular way that cakes do when made with wheat flour; they rose a little. So it's always worth adding more mixture to the cake cases in the knowledge that they aren't going to dramatically increase in size.

If yours didn't even rise a little then I AM confused. Perhaps without the rice bran the mix was too liquid? And you did add the bicarbonate of soda and baking powder?


Flo'bear said...

Aha! I've got. I didn't add bicarb and baking powder....

Because it may be that with all your sterling Valentine's fridge-tidying, you forgot to add them in to the recipe? I've looked at looked but I can't see them in your ingredients - but that could be my funny old browser. And I was too silly in my beetroot excitement to take the initiative and add them in myself.

So mine are more like scones, but delicious nonetheless!


Pig in the Kitchen said...

Oh. Dear. God. How can I have missed off such crucial ingredients? I can only apologise unreservedly for my rubbishness. I've checked my book and there it is scrawled down for both versions; bicarb and baking powder. And now I have gone to a very dark place where I imagine all my recipes are missing one crucial ingredient....I may be obsessively checking until the early hours.

Thank-you very much for so kindly bringing this to my attention and, again, sorry for your scones.
Pigx (feeling sheepish)

Flo'bear said...

PLEASE, come out of the darkness! The beetroot scones are delicious, and next time round the beetroot cupcakes will be triumphant....

Pig in the Kitchen said...

[at Flo'bear's request Pig emerges blinking from her very dark place. She manages a watery smile and with a trembling hand wipes the tears from her eye. She resolves to do better next time... ;-) ]

Mya said...

I'm devastated - people are always decribing my house as cosy and homely.

Beetroot cupcakes...yummy.What next? Cauliflower custard?

Mya x

PS My fridge, like my mind, is filthy!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Absolutely great as usual, you are a genius!I will copy your cake for my coeliac wife.

the word verification thing was ovenhis. How strange!

Potty Mummy said...

And since I'm living in the land of the beetroot I have no excuse with this one. Well, actually I do; my beloved (written through metaphorical gritted teeth) STILL hasn't organised power of attorney for our moving company yet so all my cooking kit is still sitting in a storage facility near Heathrow waiting to get on a plane to Russia.

Is this getting to me? No, of course not. So much not that I can't bring myself to write that information on my own blog...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Mya, darling are you being a little sarcastic? Cauliflower custard? I hope you're not suggesting that I make up recipes using weird and wonderful ingredients? Oh right, that IS what I do... thanks for stopping by!

GOK, hello, I hope she enjoys it. I think your word verif is a cry, a plea to your heart to make the oven your own and cook for your wife!

PottyM, oh dear. Shall I cut you a slice of cake? it sounds like you need it. Umm, i do not want to diss your husband IN ANY WAY, but wtf????? Some jobs are kind of, well, very important indeed aren't they? And jobs that involve making sure all your worldly possessions arrive in Moscow before you leave in a couple of years, they are probably top of the list aren't they? You have my sympathy. And please, come over any time to bitch about things you don't want on your own blog! My door is always open.

Ghislaine said...

"maybe not breast milk" LOL! I'm so tempted to pump some just for this, mostly because you brought it up! My daughter's first birthday is coming up so I stopped by for some recipes to try for her first cake.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello Ghislaine, hmm, now I'm shaking my head trying to dispel the image of you pumping breast milk into the beetroot cake but it just won't go away! Of course it would make the cake even healthier, especially for your daughter, maybe you are onto something! Thanks for stopping by,

Damian said...

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Anonymous said...

lovely cake although i used too many spices so that's mostly all i can taste - bah!! I used spelt flour instead of wheat or other flours as i find the latter always leave a dry taste, spelt usually doesn't but although the cake is perhaps a bit too moist (oops) it still has a bit of that 'dry flour' taste - bar humbug - but definitely eatable and i've just stuffed a bun into my mouth, umm.

Thanks. i'll definitely be trying your receipes again!


Grace Cheetham said...

Hi Pig, these look utterly wonderful. I love that you use rice bran in the G-F version, and that you use beetroot juice to colour these. Congratulations they look fab! Grace