Monday 22 February 2016

Beetroot Cake [gluten and refined sugar free - vegan, dairy free option]

I've never tried using beetroot in baking before. I'd heard of chocolate beetroot cake before and last week's Sport Relief Great British Bake Off also reminded me of it. But given the fact that I'm not a big chocolate cake lover myself (I know how could I?) when I came across Twigg Studios' just beetroot cake, I couldn't wait to give it a try.

Funnily enough, this recipe from Twigg Studios is a recipe adapted from Lily Vanilli's beetroot cake recipe which I have actually seen in the past as I've flicked through my copy of Lily's Sweet Tooth book, but, I've never really been that compelled to make it. Lily's version is quite a bit different from the Twigg Studios' version, nevertheless there are some which remain. I, on the other hand have adapted this adapted recipe again! (Sorry it's getting confusing...)

I opted for a filling which is vegan friendly and dairy free - whipped coconut cream, and crushed fresh raspberries folded into it (instead of blackberries) you could of course use them if you prefer, or a mixture of both. I also decided to go the whole hog and make it refined sugar free as well by removing the little 50g of sugar which was originally in the recipe. Having tasted it, I didn't notice or miss it, as there was enough sweetness from the beetroot and spices. 

I thought the sheer quantity of fresh ginger noted down for this recipe was at first a mistake, but after checking, it was indeed not! I still felt the need to reduce quantities, and then some, as I felt a little overwhelmed by the amount of gingery'ness going on. I also think that if you prefer a more mellow ginger flavour then you could  try substituting the fresh for a couple teaspoons of ground ginger. That's just my opinion though, so stick to the whole 80g of it, if you dare - like Twigg Studios. 

I also feel the need to say that this cake comes with a warning: this is a cake for grown-ups. It has a beautiful flavour and texture, acquired from using polenta rather than flour which for some will take time to get used to. And FYI, polenta is surprisingly hard to find at supermarkets at the moment, you wouldn't think it as there's definitely an emerging trend/demand for gluten - free from's, with polenta being a great alternative. I managed to pick mine up from here in the end. 

If the fact that beetroot can be a right pain to peel and then grate due to staining, then don't fret- I did at first and then remembered the oh so great convenience of buying ready cooked! My recipe is made simpler by using ready peeled and cooked which you just throw into a food processor straight from a packet = no pink stained hands! Yay!

Beetroot Cake  [gluten  and  refined  sugar  free  -  vegan,  dairy  free  option]


For the sponge

500g beetroot, peeled and cooked
40g root ginger peeled (or 2 tsp ground ginger)
120ml olive oil
60ml freshly squeezed smooth orange juice 
150g raisins 
7 tbsp runny honey (for vegan subst. with maple syrup/agave nectar)
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract 
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
½ tsp ground cinnamon 
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 
2 tsp baking powder (+ pinch extra for vegan/dairy option)
360g polenta
4 eggs separated (for vegan/dairy subst. 4 tbsp golden flax/chia seeds ground in a blender, soak for 30 minutes in a bowl with 12 tbsp of water.) 

For the filling
1 can (400ml) coconut milk, chilled overnight in the fridge
2-3 tbsp honey (for vegan subst. with maple syrup/agave nectar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 large raspberries, halved

icing sugar to dust - optional. 


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350° F/ gas 4. Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins.

Pulse the beetroot and fresh ginger (if using) in a food processor until like grated. Then put into a large mixing bowl with the oil, orange juice, raisins, honey, vanilla, lemon zest and spices. Beat the egg yolks for about four minutes until creamy and in a clean dry bowl whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir the whisked egg yolks into the beetroot mix and then add the polenta and baking powder. Fold in the whipped egg white, or if making vegan/dairy free, skip these egg stages and simply stir in the soaked flax/chia seed mixture with the water and add a pinch more baking powder. 

Divide the mixture between the two prepared cake tins. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

To make the filling, whip in a mixer the hardened coconut cream which should have separated and risen to the top of the chilled tin of coconut milk. Discard the coconut water at the bottom for something else. Add the honey, vanilla and mix again briefly until light and fluffy, then fold in the halved raspberries, some will bleed and crush, this is ok. Spread onto one cooled cake and then sandwich the other on top. Dust with icing sugar if you want. Store the cake in an air-tight container in the fridge, best eaten on the day of baking.


  1. Oh, that sounds really interesting. I have never baked with beet root, but I think I should. The cake looks so moist and scrumptious :-)

    1. Thanks! You should, it is very moist! And it feels quite healthy