Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Chocolate Banana-Beetroot Cake

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you may remember this excitable mid-essay tweet. Whilst getting all my work done before the deadlines (all over now - phew!) I was often in my favourite cafe, which also happens to be quite vegan-friendly. I'm not actually a big fan of cake, but after slugging through an hour of mind-numbingly boring material with a frantically growling stomach, the need to re-fuel won out. I sidled up to the counter, intrigued by a delicious-looking cake entitled Chocolate Banana Beetroot.

It was a good choice: moist, sweet, light yet rich and with these fantastic subtle, rustic, almost earthy undertones from the beetroot. I was so delighted with it, I had to try out the combination myself.

Mine turned out sweet and moist, but with a more traditionally "cake-like," texture, and significantly more chocolatey flavour. As a result, whilst I was only so-so about it, this has gone over very well with everyone else: I received reports of a delicious chocolate cake, with orders to make a habit out of making it and comments such as "you'll make me fat!" The presence of the beetroot, or anything remotely healthy, went completely unnoticed. So, whilst I tinker in the meantime with a more beetroot-flavoured variety, I can confidently say that this is a strong "secret" ingredient dessert: with the fruit, veg, unrefined sugars and whole wheat, there's a lot of good stuff in there amongst the rich chocolatey layers. And considering it's my first attempt ever at making a proper cake by myself, I'm pretty proud of it.

Next time, I'm going to vary the quantities of flour vs. beetroot/banana to bring out their flavour more - if anyone else tries this first, let me know how it goes! I'm pretty sure a few chocolate chunks won't hurt either;)

Chocolate Banana-Beetroot Cake

by Shonalika Tilak
Prep Time: 15-20 mins
Cook Time: 30-35 mins
Ingredients (1 2-layer 8-inch cake)
    For Cake
    • 1.5 cups spelt or wholegrain flour (225g) 
    • 1 cup coconut sugar (150g) (Brown sugar should work fine too)
    • ½ cup cocoa powder (50g)
    • 2 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 2 medium beets
    • 2 large bananas (150g)
    • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened soya)
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 cup golden sultanas (50g)
    For Frosting
    • 100g coconut butter 
    • 1 ½ cup milk
    • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
    • ¼ cup cocoa powder (25g)
    • ½ tsp vanilla

    For Cake:

    1. Combine dry ingredients (first 6) in a large bowl and mix very well.

    2. Slice beets and bananas and add to blender along with wet ingredients. Blend until smooth. (You’ll end up with a smoothie. Try not to drink it.)

    3. Pour wet into dry and whisk until you have a wonderful sludgy gloop.

    4. Stir in sultanas and divide batter into 2 oiled or lined 8-inch pans. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180C for 35 mins, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

    5. Let cakes cool completely before trying to remove.

    For Frosting:

    1. Place coconut butter, vanilla and cocoa powder in a bowl, keeping the cups of milk and powdered sugar at the sides.

    2. Begin to mix, gradually adding in the milk and sugar until all the sugar is used up and desired consistency is reached. (You may not use all of the milk.)


    1. Place one cake flat-side up on a plate. Spread a thin, even layer of frosting over this, then place the other cake, also flat-side up, on top of this, ensuring the two sides fit together snugly.

    2. Frost the top and sides.
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    • As you can see, I didn't have enough frosting to cover the cake properly - I've compensated for this in the actual recipe, so you should have enough. If not, however just increase the quantities of everything and continue mixing in until you reach the desired amount.
    • I used coconut butter for the frosting as it needed finishing - it works well, but leaves a slight coconut flavour (and melts easily!). If you don't want this, just sub with a vegan butter-type spread:)


    1. This cake looks so good and, having scanned the ingredients lists, I was amazed to find that you used no fat at all (okay there's some in the frosting but that doesn't count ;) ) I've never had much success with fat free cakes so I'm really excited to give your recipe a try. The fact that the banana and beetroot flavours don't come through much is a plus point for my family (especially the beetroot!)

      1. Haha, yes! Honestly, I spend at least ten minutes staring at the mixing bowl before putting it in the oven. My instincts were kicking me to throw SOME fat in there. The only reason I didn't was due to a suspicion that the cake I'd eaten in the cafe had tasted so light and airy it was distinctly as though there was no fat there - but delicious regardless. Thankfully it came out really well, but I'll admit I had my fingers crossed! xD

        You definitely can't taste the beetroot! I say it you're going for a really chocolatey, non-beetrooty flavour then it might be a good idea to throw some chocolate chips into the mix - the only reason I didn't do this the first time round was because I was going for an imitation recipe and the original had none ;)

    2. Wowza! This looks incredible Shonalika! It looks so moist and chocolatey and you know I love coconut butter so that frosting is perfect for me. Send me a slice!

      1. Thank you! *sticks one in the post* Don't mind if it gets a bit squishy.

        I only used coconut butter because I had to finish it, normally I'm not a massive fan - I'm glad I did though, this frosting is really nice. And the cake itself just seems to get nicer over time:)

    3. This looks so dark and chocolatey and moist! I just love it! I have seen beet used before in chocolate cake and have always been intrigued. I'm not a fan of beets typically, but if I can't taste them, it would totally work. It sure is beautiful and chocolatey!!

      1. Also, really strange but I tried to leave my blog as my name for commenting, but the dropdown menu doesn't give the option of putting a name and url like other blogs I've seen. So, this is who I am, haha! http://TheVegan8.com

      2. Apologies for my blog's bad behaviour:p Yup, the beetroot just lends a wonderful texture here, but no flavour, to my initial disappointment. I got over it. The dominant flavour is CHOCOLATE after all, I've got no cause to complain xD

        I've heard of your blog before! - it's one of the ones I've been meaning to have a proper look around. Thanks for stopping by and your kind comment ^^