A Deliciously Different Chocolate Cake

I have to start this post with a foot note, as it were – in my enthusiasm to use my new camera, I completely forgot the wretched things don’t work unless you charge their batteries! So instead of the stunning “final” photos I had planned in my head, Nicky the Nikon fell at the last hurdle and I had to resort to my iPhone. A thousand apologies, if not to you than to my expectations as I envisaged this magnificent cake would look a whole lot better than this…

Ok, it doesn’t look that bad so stay with me – I’m hoping I can convert you with the rest of this post!

So, yesterday it was Father’s Day and to celebrate, we had a family BBQ (which my dad is always Chief of the Fire Pit for, regardless of the occasion). He’d been hinting at wanting a chocolate cake as a treat for some time so I took the opportunity to make my very first recipe from this stunning book.


Nigel Slater’s Tender, both Volumes 1 and 2 were recent additions to my book shelf thanks to Hungry Hubby on my last day of medical school. I nearly burst with glee when I Tweeted this fact and the newest member of the famous foodie celebrity crew messaged to directly to say congratulations himself! To say I’m enjoying reading them is too benign a phrase – I’m falling in love with them, with each chapter I slowly devour, a day at a time so to make the pleasure last as long as possible. This chocolatey beast of a cake instantly jumped out of, wait for it, the beetroot chapter and I knew it was perfect for the occasion.


Just look at the transformation boiling then blending this gnarly, dusty looking knobble of a root vegetable produces. A real life ugly duckling make over if ever I saw one. Once it has been transformed into this luminescent almost translucent gel of a purée, we can turn to the matter of melting some dark chocolate, adding some espresso coffee, chunks of creamy yellow butter and simply giving them time to get to know one another in the warm bowl before amalgamating them with a slow but deliberate fold.


Meanwhile, we can set about whisking up a number of egg whites and adding some sugar – I used half caster and half soft brown as I’d finished my golden caster sugar without replenishing the stocks. I can’t see how the addition of soft brown sugar is ever a bad thing though.


Once we have thick, shining, matte white meringue and a large metal spoon to fold it into a red earth toned batter we are moments away from ushering this mysterious beauty into the gently preheating oven. Then a mere 45 minutes (in my oven) later, an intriguing aroma of what I’d describe as “earthy chocolatiness” permeates the kitchen in a familiar yet subtly different manner one is accustomed to with “normal” chocolate cakes. The cake has risen beautifully – a flat red brown top with gently rounded edges and the barest wibble wobble of a freshly baked cloud cake or rich and decadent torte at the epicentre of cake.


At this point in the afternoon of Father’s Day I was all packed up and ready to go. Hungry Hubby had arrived home and we were ready to drive over to Daddums for the BBQ. Hubby cradled the cake still in its tin and retaining substantial heat from the oven in a jute bag for life on his lap as I drove!

It stood for almost 2 hours before I served it and what this smart phone picture doesn’t get across is the velvet centre of the cake – very much like a chocolate torte but aerated with the egg whites folded into the batter before baking, it almost but didn’t ooze like Aztec earth coloured lava as each slice was transferred to the waiting plates. We served it with a gently whipped cream sweetened with a touch of vanilla bean paste and agave nectar (as I had some and wanted to try it) rather than the poppy seeded creme fraiche which Nigel himself suggests as an accompaniment.


As for the taste, well we enjoyed our slabs of warm cake and clouds of cream in the late evening and unexpected warming heat from the sun in Daddums beautiful back garden. The torrential down pour of the morning forgotten as swallows and house martins darted between the bushes and a sparrow hawk was spotted in the distance by eagle eyes Daddums himself. Silence interrupted as he spooned mouthfuls of dark cake and white cream into his mouth making yummy noises. I can only assume the sweetness of the organic beetroot humming alongside the 70% Green & Black’s chocolate was as pleasing to him as it was to me.

Chocolate Beetroot Cake
Servings: 8
: 539 kcal
Author: Just Jo
  • 250 g beetroot cooked in their skins then peeled and puréed well.
  • 200 g dark chocolate
  • 4 tbsp hot espresso
  • 200 g butter
  • 135 g plain flour
  • A heaped tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 5 eggs separated
  • 190 g golden caster sugar
  1. Melt the chocolate, butter and espresso together. Stir in the beetroot purée and egg yolks.
  2. Sift over the flour, baking powder and cocoa and mix in.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until stiff then pour in the sugar gradually as for making meringue.
  4. Fold into the chocolate mixture and then transfer to a greased and lined 8 inch round cake tin.
  5. Place in a preheated oven to 180˚C, immediately turning down to 160˚C and baking for approximately 40 minutes - the centre should wobble a little but the edges be fully cooked.
  6. Cool in the tin before unmoulding and serving with creme fraiche whilst still warm.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Nigel Slater's book, Tender Volume I

Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Beetroot Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 539 Calories from Fat 306
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 34g 52%
Saturated Fat 20g 100%
Cholesterol 156mg 52%
Sodium 248mg 10%
Potassium 373mg 11%
Total Carbohydrates 52g 17%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Sugars 32g
Protein 8g 16%
Vitamin A 15.9%
Vitamin C 1.9%
Calcium 5%
Iron 26.5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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  1. Did I spy a first outing for the Bamix there Jodie?
    The cake looks wonderful, I think I am going to have to pull the books off the shelf and cook from them too!

    • Jo Blogs 18/06/2012 at 16:17 - Reply

      You do Mo! I used the wrong attachment though so it took a long time to purée the beetroot!

  2. At Anna's Kitchen Table 18/06/2012 at 15:15 - Reply

    D’you know, you’ve inspired me to go and get those books off the shelf! What a wonderful colour!

    • Jo Blogs 18/06/2012 at 16:18 - Reply

      Well it’s a guilt-less pleasure reading a chapter a day for me, before bed. Nigel’s writing is so beautiful and it calms me :)

  3. Lorna Buffey 18/06/2012 at 15:38 - Reply

    oh no not another to put on the to do list! i am never going to be slim! lol

  4. Jayne 18/06/2012 at 15:57 - Reply

    Fabulous as always Jo. The cake looks soo fudgey in the top pic – but just wondering if you can actually taste (even a hint of) the beetroot, not that that would put me off trying, I’m just curious :-)

    • Jo Blogs 18/06/2012 at 16:26 - Reply

      Thanks Jayne! Yes you can taste it, the flavour is “present” I’d say rather than being one of those cakes where it’s hidden.

  5. The spicy saffron 18/06/2012 at 16:02 - Reply

    The cake looks divine, Would have never come up with a recipe with beet root in my cake. You are inspiring me to try this one out!! Above all, it was for dad, that makes it extra special. isn’t it?

    • Jo Blogs 18/06/2012 at 16:27 - Reply

      Oh yes, he’s a special dad so deserved a special treat! Give it a try – its different but delicious :)

  6. frugalfeeding 18/06/2012 at 18:23 - Reply

    Great looking cake, Jo! I hate Nigel Slater though, he’s so irritating, but there we go :D. Haha. Perhaps hate is too strong a word. Anyway, sorry about the camera thing – I;ve forgotten to charge it a couple of times too, very annoying. I need to get myself into this twitter thing a bit more… I’m not very good at connecting with people :D

    • Jo Blogs 18/06/2012 at 20:02 - Reply

      Well we can’t all love everyone – I’ll love Nigel more to make up for your less than enamoured stance Frugal ;). I think he’s truly wonderful.
      I feel I need to invest in a second battery as I’m getting carried away practising with Nicky the Nikon lots and lots. As for social networking – I’m so addicted its a bit shameful at times!

      • frugalfeeding 18/06/2012 at 20:08 - Reply

        Is it named after me? I bet it is… Shameful indeed! I’m thinking about getting two batteries too.

        • Jo Blogs 18/06/2012 at 20:11 - Reply

          Lol aw it’s just because I like names that begin with the same letters or rhyme – hence Nicky the Nikon, Gino the Cappucino Machine-o, Barney the Bamix and (here’s where it falls down a little) Candy the KitchenAid! :D

          • frugalfeeding 18/06/2012 at 20:20

            You’re a little mad – I’ve not named any of my gadgets… not that I have many kitchen gadgets…

  7. Pamela 18/06/2012 at 20:48 - Reply

    I am enjoying the pleasure you are taking in your new treats – new cookbooks, new bamix ….. new camera ….. once the batteries are charged!!

    • Jo Blogs 18/06/2012 at 20:51 - Reply

      Oh I know I’ve gone a bit mad Pam, it embarrasses me a little but if I can’t go a little crazy now I’m finally no more a student then when can I?! :D

  8. charlize cake 18/06/2012 at 21:22 - Reply

    Wow what an innovative creation. Dare I say ” Red Velvet ” in a different dimension! Never would I have imagined baking with beetroot! Hmm beet and chocolate, what a cacophony of flavour! Looking forward to trying and tasting!

    • Jo Blogs 18/06/2012 at 21:25 - Reply

      Well I can’t take credit for the cake – that’s all Nigel Slater’s idea. But I have made ared velvet cake with beetroot before, a few times actually and it works beautifully. I say be bold and try it – you may just find the new love of your life!

  9. George@CulinaryTravels 18/06/2012 at 21:28 - Reply

    Looks gorgeous. I’ve made and blogged several choc beetroot cakes but none of them sound as good as this one. You’ve inspired me to get Vol 1 off the shelf and Vol 2 from the shop ASAP.

    • Jo Blogs 18/06/2012 at 21:29 - Reply

      I wouldn’t be without them George! Stunning books in every sense of the word :D

  10. The Vagabond Baker 18/06/2012 at 21:44 - Reply

    mmmm, chocolate and beetroot! Must try this, it looks really good. I adore Nigel Slater, he is so passionate about real food xxx

  11. Capp 19/06/2012 at 06:33 - Reply

    I’ve been eyeing Tender at my local bookstore for MONTHS now. This has made me want it even more. Must go and see if they’ve reduced the price at all… It’s an English edition so not many people are willing to buy it, I think. Most Finnish foodies need Finnish versions. (A career path I wish I could take – translating cookbooks!!!)

    • Jo Blogs 19/06/2012 at 06:57 - Reply

      It is very pricey Capp but I’m so glad Hungry Hubby bought them for me, I just love them so much. Go and stroke them again if not buy them ;) And what a career that would be indeed! Xx

  12. Liz Headon 19/06/2012 at 18:11 - Reply

    I’ve got the “Fruit Tender” but not the vegetable one (yet…) I wonder whether I’d have thought to look in it for a cake recipe though ? This looks and sounds glorious !

    • Jo Blogs 19/06/2012 at 18:20 - Reply

      Perhaps it will be on the menu for our brunch Liz :)

  13. NickkiT 19/06/2012 at 21:51 - Reply

    I adore Nigel Slater! This cake looks fantastic, beetroot and chocolate are a wonderful combination :-)

    • Jo Blogs 20/06/2012 at 08:36 - Reply

      It’s a definite flavour here Nic – I imagine this would make the most fabulous supper party dessert with a full bodied heavy red wine or port maybe mmmm!

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