Friday, December 13, 2019

Olive Oil Bundt Cake with Beet Swirl



I first saw this cake on Instagram last May. It looked so beautiful that I took a screencap of it, to make sure I’d remember to look up the recipe. It was created by Jerrelle Guy, she of Chocolate for Basil. Her website was down at the time, but I eventually realized that she had created the recipe for New York Times Cooking, so I bookmarked it. And still I waited, because the Engineer had clearly told me that he’d had enough of my chocolate beet confections for a while… But I reasoned that since this isn’t chocolate, it’s not technically infringing upon the moratorium, so I made it this fall.

At first, I followed the instructions for the beets: peel, chop and roast before puréeing. But they just weren’t getting tender! After an hour, I wrapped them in foil to avoid losing too much moisture and left them in the oven another 20 minutes. Nope – they were still too hard to purée; so I chopped them smaller, put them in a bowl with some water, covered it and microwaved them a total of 6 minutes. Nope, nope, nope – I couldn’t save them – they were too dry and hard for anything good to come out of them. So I shelved the project and made something else for dessert that day. I bought more beets and tried it again my way: wrap in foil, roast, then trim and peel, and purée. It worked out perfectly, and I had gorgeous, smooth, tasty roasted beet purée, so I’m writing down my method below. I also reordered the ingredients and some of the steps to make it easier.

This cake was absolutely stunning! I don’t think you should wait for a special occasion, but if you did, it would look beautiful at Christmas. (Just make sure to let it cool all the way before you cut into it, or the colors might smear.) And it was absolutely delicious, not too sweet; you can taste the beet, but it’s not off-putting at all. Make sure you use a great olive oil for this, too. We loved this cake, even the Engineer.

1 ¼ lb./570 g. beets (I had 4 small ones)
3 ½ cups/450 g. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 ½ cups/300 g. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup lactose-free whole milk
1 Tbsp. lemon zest plus ½ cup fresh lemon juice (from 3 or 4 lemons)
5 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups quality extra-virgin olive oil (plus a splash more for roasting the beets, optional)
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 425 °F. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.

Wrap each of the beets in foil (you can add a splash of oil if you want), place them on a baking sheet, and roast until fork-tender (this was 1 ½ hours for me). Take them out of the oven and, once they have cooled, trim and peel them (the skin will slip right off). Purée the beets – I like using the food processor for this. Transfer the beet purée to a medium bowl and set aside. Lower the oven temperature to 325 °F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and eggs. Whisk in the olive oil.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients, continuing to whisk, beginning in the middle and moving outward, until just combined. Transfer 2 cups of the batter to the bowl with the beet purée and gently fold it in until combined.

Pour about half of the plain batter into the base of the prepared Bundt pan. Next, pour half of the beet batter on top, followed by half of the remaining plain batter. Top with the rest of the beet batter, then with the last of the plain batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes (my oven runs hot, and this took 1 h 10 min for me).


Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool. (The original recipe had it cool in the pan for only 5 minutes, but I always let it cool completely.) Loosen the cake from the edges of the pan and carefully invert it onto a serving tray – for what it’s worth, the unmolding was textbook-perfect for me and it gave me a thrill to see it! (Let the cake rest for at least a few hours total, otherwise the swirls will blur together when you cut it.) Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

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