Cooking with Mark

BEETROOT AND CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

Yes, it’s possible to make cakes out of vegetables — and they taste great too!

I’ve touched on the fruit-in-savoury-dishes debate, and this week I’m going to turn that around. As a kid, I was shocked to find out that carrot cake contained carrots. My sister was the master of baking the perfect moist masterpiece. Whenever she came to visit, without fail she would always bring my favourite treat, transported in an old biscuit tin (that’s how food was transported in our family). I just assumed it was orange in colour; carrots are orange and I was eight, why would I question this?
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that you could make cakes out of vegetables. This was big news to me. My sister was adamant that her recipe would remain a mystery, so how was I to know the main ingredient was a vegetable? What other food secrets were they keeping from me? Was toad-in-the-hole actually made from toads? Was Welsh rabbit (Welsh rarebit) made from fluffy bunnies? Being a child is confusing, and parents can be cruel.

NEVER IN MY WILDEST DREAMS DID I THINK THAT YOU COULD MAKE CAKES OUT OF VEGETABLES. THIS WAS BIG NEWS TO ME.

I still don’t have ‘the recipe’, but have made many carrot cakes topped with creamy frosting, and I can say I think they’re as good as my sister’s. I’ve experimented with other vegetables in cakes. My cauliflower meringue muffins were a hit; you can’t taste the cauliflower, but it adds texture. I’ve seen courgette muffins, sweet potato sponges, even sprout cakes, though I’m not sure how I feel about that.
So I got in the kitchen and experimented with some of my tried-and-tested cake recipes. I added beetroot to a rich chocolate cake recipe, and it worked. I tweaked the ingredients, by adding some walnuts and cherries. Now, I can’t stress enough that you need to buy boiled beetroot, not from a jar but unsalted and unsweetened. I have some hilarious stories where my friends grabbed sliced pickled beetroot from the fridge and thought it would do, but it won’t, it will taste disgusting. The beetroot adds a soft crunch, the walnuts add a nutty taste and the raspberries a sweet fresh touch. So to conclude, fruits and vegetables in food work in harmony, in both sweet and savoury recipes.

Recipes, food styling and photography by Mark Setchfield

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