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Chocolate Beet Cake

17 Dec

For Thanksgiving I made a chocolate beet cake with cream cheese frosting.  I put it in a bundt cake pan, which made it look fancy and festive.  Sure I could have baked it in a sheet pan, but this extra effort was not difficult.  The recipe, with my modifications, is from Boistfort Valley Farms, which is one of the many farms at the Olympia Farmer’s Market (700 Capitol Way N, Olympia).  I did not procure my beets from Boistfort because I was lucky enough to receive some from Farmer Don, my loving father, who stealthily drops of produce bags in the wee hours whilst I slumber.

The Farmer’s Market is open December 22nd – the 24th if you need to pick something up for your neighbor, your difficult to shop for dad or a colleague who unexpectedly left a gift on your chair.

Please enjoy:

Chocolate Beet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 T vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (or less)
1 1/2 cups cooked, peeled, and puréed beets
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup oil (I like safflower)

Boil quartered red beets in water.  Drain and cool.  Carefully use an immersion blender to puree them.  You might use a very high sided pot or fashion some kind of beet projectile skirt out of a paper plate for your immersion blender so you don’t have beet meat plastered on the walls or your favorite apron.  Set thoroughly mashed beets aside.Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt chocolate in a double boiler; remove from heat and cool slightly. Or, you can do this in one minute rounds in the microwave.  Be forewarned that the bowl and the chocolate will get really hot.  In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add sugar, oil, vanilla, melted chocolate, and beets, stirring well after each addition. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Combine dry ingredients with chocolate mixture and beat until just blended. Pour into a greased and floured 9×13″ cake pan and bake for about 35 minutes. Cool and frost as desired.  I garnished mine with beet chips, but while they looked lovely, they wilted.  If you choose to decorate the cake as I did, I recommend adding the beet chips right before service.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract



Baking is a Piece of Cream Cheese Apple Cake

15 Oct

apple cakeGrowing up, my Mom worked full-time in a busy office and like most adults, she was always tired in the evenings. I remember wondering how she could be so wiped out from sitting at a desk all day. In my adolescent mind, meetings and preparing reports didn’t really compare to a draining teenage schedule of student council car washes, working out geometric proofs, and running lines at basketball practice.

Fast forward ten years and guess who has joined the ranks of sleepy-eyed desk jockeys? I spent six of the past ten days in all day meetings and by the time I arrived home, I was utterly exhausted…from sitting…at a desk. Needless to say, I did not bake nor blog during my weeks-o-meetings.

After a couple restful days of straightening up the house and reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest, I pulled out one of my favorite cookbooks and whipped up a delightful cream cheese apple bundt cake. As the warm apple cinnamon aroma filled my house, I realized that if I would have mustered up the energy to peel three granny smiths, my Kitchen Aid mixer would have happily completed the job. I could have enjoyed a homemade cake with my morning coffee rather than succumbing to mediocre meeting donuts.

This perfectly sweet apple cake reminded me that home baking does not require a huge time investment. If you choose a simple, seasonal recipe, and have the basics on hand, preparing a dessert from scratch is a worthy weeknight feat.

This Cream Cheese Apple Cake recipe is from a fantastic baking book titled, The Grand Central Baking Book. Every recipe I’ve used from the book is easy to follow and super tasty. I haven’t had a chance to visit the actual Grand Central Baking Company in Seattle, but if I can create “sweet Jesus that is good!” caliber desserts in my humble kitchen, the actual bakery will have me dancing in the floured aisles.

Check out Grand Central Baking Company’s Baker’s Blog to read about this recipe and find more freshly baked, Northwest treats.


Cream Cheese Apple Cake

3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (8 ounces/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2-1/2 cups (1 pound 1.5 ounces) granulated sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/4 pounds tart apples, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

Prepare to bake.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour the baking pan.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together and set aside.

Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar.
Put butter, cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat ingredients on medium-high speed until mixture is very light in color-almost white-and the texture is fluffy. This will take about 6-8 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl once during the process to ensure that butter is evenly incorporated.

Add eggs and vanilla.
Crack eggs into a liquid measure and add vanilla. With the mixer on low-speed, slowly pour mixture into the bowl allowing eggs to fall in one at a time. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Add dry ingredients and apples.
Add sifted dry ingredients on low-speed; stop mixing as soon as flour is incorporated. Fold apples in by hand using a stiff spatula and scrape batter into the prepared pan.

Place pan in the middle of the oven and bake 60-75 minutes rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. When cake is finished, a wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean. Allow cake to cool 15 minutes before removing it from pan. Cool completely and cover with a thick dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

Garden Fresh Carrot Cake

23 Sep

carrot cakeA few years ago my sweetie’s extended family visited from the East Coast. During the visit, his lovely cousin made a cake with carrots from the garden. Carrot cake is always a treat, but with perfectly ripened, garden fresh carrots – it was divine.

I recently pulled out the recipe and whipped up the cake I so fondly remembered.  It was such a hit, I baked the cake twice in one week. Since I did not plant any carrots this year, I used a big bag of carrots from the grocery store. Even with purchased carrots, the cake exceeded my expectations.

Interestingly enough, the shredded carrots bits in the second cake were green around the edges.  I was the only one who noticed, but it creeped me out enough to find the cause of this green addition. After a brief search, I discovered carrots can turn green when there is too much baking soda in the recipe. I must have been a little heavy-handed when mixing the dry ingredients. Fortunately the color change did not impact the flavor.

Here is the classic Carrot Cake recipe. Enjoy!



3 cups grated carrots
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 eggs well beaten
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the first seven ingredients. Stir in eggs, oil, and vanilla. Mix well.

Pour batter into two greased and floured nine-inch round cake pans and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool for ten minutes and remove from pans. Let cool on wire racks. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
1 (16 ounce) package powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine cream cheese and butter, beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar (sift if there are clumps) and vanilla, beat until fluffy.