The ‘New Normal’ Beetroot – Ginger Cake

Hey folks, how is everyone holding up and can someone tell me what day it is?

Am excited to announce that I’ve gone from Covid denial and lockdown grief, to talking with plants while waiting for a 6pm visit by a peacock in our neighbourhood. He squawks and I shout. My social life is banging.

I hope you’re all getting plenty rest, good grub and facetime with the loved ones. Yet as we transition to what is being called ‘the new normal’  (Am screaming ‘NO’ how can this ever be normal?) the truth is what we’re all feeling is grief. We know it’s temporary, but it really doesn’t feel so.

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The pandemic has forced us to spend so much time with ourselves that the only way to feel better is to make peace – with the voices in our head, the insecurities that keep us up at night and the way we see ourselves at our naked best. Dig deep within and find out what makes you happy, truly happy. And spend some part of everyday in the pursuit of that happiness, without inhibition (I am seriously hoping that your happy place is not running down the street in your birthday suit) This podcast says it best.

I found my peace in the kitchen by the warm glow of the oven light and the sound of spoons clacking against pots of simmering stews and kadhis. Now is the time for food that is nourishing for the body and comforting for the soul. My culinary crush Yotam Ottolenghi is the only other older man that I can count on for some sweet sweet loving. As the world’s most adored cookbook author, he seemed to have predicted our need for staying strong through food. Ottolenghi’s writing gives me the strength to wake up everyday and find joy in pantry staples.

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This Beetroot-Ginger cake from his cookbook ‘Sweet’, is a soft hug on a particularly long day – when you’ve had 5 meals, 2 naps and it’s still 6pm. It’s made with what you already have in your kitchen and is super versatile with swaps and subs. The recipe calls for stem ginger (which I made at home) using the leftover syrup to make a couple of Bourbon cocktails. I also added in chopped orange peel instead of zest which makes for a delightful flavour addition.

The result is a ridiculously moist cake with an enviable ruby colour that would throw shade at Kylie’s cosmetic range. The secret ingredient to this blushing glow is not in your kitchen, it’s in your medicine stash. A humble dose of Vitamin C which retains the colour of the beets. I wonder if I can add multivitamins to the batter and have cake before bed every night. Same thing right?

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BEETROOT GINGER CAKE

Note: I’ve made a few tweaks to the original recipe by dialling down on the sugar and adding dates to maintain the level of sweetness. I also swapped yoghurt for sour cream and made a greek yoghurt frosting in place of cream cheese. 

INGREDIENTS

For the Cake

  • Flour – 1 2/3 cups (200g)
  • Sugar – 1/4 cup (50g)
  • Dates – 1/4 cup (70g)
  • baking powder – 2 teaspoons
  • baking soda – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Salt – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Stem Ginger (chopped)- 1/2 cup (100g)
  • Beetroots  (washed, peeled & grated) – 200g
  • Peel of 1 Orange (chopped)
  • Walnuts (chopped & toasted) – 2/3 cup (75g)
  • Eggs – 2 large
  • Yoghurt – 1/4 cup (60g)
  • Sunflower/Canola Oil – 1/2 Cup (125ml)
  • Vitamin C tablets – 50mg, crushed

For the Frosting

  • Greek Yoghurt – 1 cup (100g)
  • Powdered Sugar – 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla Pod – 1

 

METHOD

  • Butter an 8-inch (20cm) square or round pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the grated beets, orange peel, dates, walnuts and ginger to the bowl, but do not stir in.
  • Mix the wet ingredients together – the eggs, yoghurt, oil, and crushed vitamin C in a small bowl.
  • Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and use a spatula to mix the together, stirring just until thoroughly combined.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean for about 40 minutes.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack, then remove the cake from the pan, peel off the parchment paper, and let cool completely.
  • For the frosting,  beat the yoghurt till it smoothens out. Add in the powdered sugar two spoons at a time until it’s completely incorporated. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and stir it in with a spatula. Spread the frosting over the top of the cake and serve.

Storage: The cake will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge. You would want it to come to room temperature before eating it.

 

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