While many associate carrot cake with America as it was popularised by the Americans in the 1960s, food historians are pretty sure that sweet cakes containing carrots as a sugar substitute have existed in Europe since medieval times.
It was very popular in Britain during sugar shortages in World War Two and the carrot cake as we know it today, may have come from Norway. This though is in dispute (but of course it is, and I wouldn't expect anything less!) or so says Wikipedia
|red sugar or "gula tanjung" the neon bright orange sugar eaten with putu mayam or string hoppers|
So, why would I be replacing carrots with beetroot, if I like a good carrot cake well enough? Because I 've been on a carrot cake bender lately, since I ate a slice at a local coffee and cake chain about 3 weeks ago. I don't advertise on my blog, but let's just say that the chain is pretty famous in these parts, for it's heavenly carrot cake. Since then, every time I see a carrot, I imagine an orange flecked cake reeking of cinnamon, crunchy with walnuts, stacked to the rafters with inches of cream cheese frosting.
I digress. I wanted to celebrate Singapore's birthday, but I wanted to do it with carrot cake, because I still haven't had enough but I wanted a red cake, with white frosting, to reflect the colours of our flag. Brilliant brainwave! Make a beetroot cake, packed with grated, lividly red beetroot, so I can ditch the red food colour!
But..... the best laid plans go awry. Should've known better. The gorgeous mulberry red of the batter, disappeared like mist in the sun, once baked. Even the bright orange sugar I used to bolster the colour of the batter didn't make any difference. The cake still tasted divine though. If you want a truly red cake, I think you would need to add at least 3 tsp red food colour, to the batter, maybe more.
|how crayola makes crayons|
And don't even try to tell yourself that this cake must be healthy with all that grated beetroot in it. You just know this is not doing you any favours by how fabulously good it tastes. The cake smells a little earthy straight out of the oven, because of the piles of beetroot, but once it has cooled completely, it smells absolutely mesmerising! Enough nattering, let's get on with how to make this wonderful, wonderful cake.
|parchment squares tucked beneath the cake before frosting ensure your cake platter stays clean|
|happy birthday, young lady!|
Happy 47th Birthday Singapore and Happy National Day to all Singaporeans, wherever in the world you are. Majulah Singapura!!!
Beetroot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Prep 1 1/2 hr Cook 1 hr Yield 8 large slices
200 ml (1 cup) light vegetable oil (soy, canola or salad oil are best)
150 g (1 1/4 cup) brown sugar (I used the local red sugar called gula tanjung)
3 tsp vanilla extract or essence
200 g (2 cups) plain or all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
360 g (3 cups) finely grated beetroot (from 1 1/2 medium peeled beetroots)
100 g (1 cup) fresh grated coconut
100 g ((1 cup) pecans (or walnuts) chopped or broken into small pieces
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Cream Cheese Frosting
500 g (2 blocks, 3 1/3 cups or 1 lb) cold firm cream cheese
75 g (1/2 cup) soft butter at room temperature
250 g (2 3/4 cups) icing sugar, sifted
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven at 170 C (340 F) and grease and flour a deep 23 cm (9 in) springform or loose bottom tin.
Combine yolks, oil, sugar and vanilla and whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture emulsifies and looks like mayonnaise. Set aside.
Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir well with a whisk. If baking soda is lumpy, rub it through a sieve into the flour mixture.
Fold the flour mixture into the egg and oil mixture, until well combined. Do not overmix. Fold the beetroot, coconut and pecans into the batter until well combined.
Whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar until you have stiff peaks. Fold a third of the egg whites into the batter to loosen. Fold the remaining egg whites very gently into batter until well mixed.
Pour batter into cake tin and bake for about an hour or until a fine skewer comes out clean from the centre of the cake.
Remove from oven and wait 5 minutes before overturning on a rack. Leave until cold before slicing cake horizontally into 3 equal layers. While cake cools, make frosting.
Make frosting. Combine cream cheese, butter and vanilla in bowl of mixer and mix with paddle on medium low speed until well blended. Do not overmix.
Once mixture is well combined, add the sugar in 3 lots, until just blended. Do not overmix or frosting will break down and become runny. Cover frosting and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Fill and frost cake. Place 1 cup frosting on bottom most cake layer and spread evenly to the edges. Top with middle layer of cake and spread with another cup of frosting. Place final layer on top of frosting and cover whole cake with a thin layer of frosting.
Chill cake and frosting for 30 minutes. Spread cake with a final thick layer of frosting and smooth surface or create swirls or waves as desired.
Chill cake at least 6 hours before slicing and serving. Store uneaten cake under a cover in refrigerator as cream cheese should not remain at room temperature for long periods.