As anyone who cooks knows, there are moments in the kitchen when you are moving along gracefully, deftly in sync with the timing of the dish. Your garlic is chopped and ready to be added at a moment’s notice, your parsley has been washed and dried so all you need do is give it a quick chop, and so on. But then, there are those moments when your kitchen feels more like you’re playing Scattergories and the timer has just switched gears to that really unsettling engine-revving sound, which any Scattergories player knows is the signal that you better stop trying to be clever and just get those words on the page. (I hate that sound. It’s always startling no matter how many times you’ve played! And I’ve played a lot.) Well, the majority of making this cake was spent in this latter zone., however, result in beautiful bursts of magenta throughout the cake that I didn’t mind at all.
Another hiccup was that we had no parchment paper to line the springform pan with. But some tip I’d read somewhere at some point about using the waxy paper that wraps around sticks of butter in place of parchment emerged from the shallow depths of my brain. And what do you know? It worked. And bonus, I knew I’d done my grandma proud.pumpkin scones, I took another guess at exactly what 8 ounces of beet looked like and went with ½ cup of it mashed. With the chocolate too, I had to estimate as I was working from a bar that was 9.7 ounces. And while I’m doing all of this guesswork, I guess I should really invest in a kitchen scale, huh?
But then again, this cake was so delicious I kind of think the money would be better sent on more ingredients to make more recipes from this book as I’m just as obsessed with it as I was three weeks ago when I first bought it. Though, if I make this cake again, I would alter Mr. Slater’s recipe in the smallest way. I felt like the crème fraiche needed a bit of sugar mixed in. Either that, or I would serve it with sweetened whipped cream. Perhaps it’s my American sugared-out palate, but my taste buds were kind of like: what is this savory-leaning cream doing on top of my beet cake? Just a thought, Mr. Slater! Otherwise, perfection.
For those of us keeping score, Tender is two for two. I’m thinking of trying the French onion soup next. Shall we see if it can go three in a row? SHALL WE?!?!?
An extremely moist chocolate-beet cake with crème fraiche and poppy seeds via Tender by Nigel Slaterbeets - 8 ounces (I used 1/2 cup mashed.)
fine dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) - 7 ounces
hot espresso - 4 tablespoons
butter - 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
all-purpose flour - 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
baking powder - a heaping teaspoon
good-quality cocoa powder - 3 tablespoons
eggs - 5 (separated)
superfine sugar - scant 1 cup
creme fraiche and poppy seeds, to serve
Lightly butter an 8-inch springform cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper (or butter wrappers!). Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Cook the beets, whole and unpeeled, in boiling unsalted water. Depending on their size, they will be tender when pierced with the tip of a knife within 30 to 40 minutes. Young ones may take slightly less. Drain them, let them cool under running water, then peel them, slice off their stem and root, and process in a blender or food processor until a coarse puree.
Melt the chocolate, broken into small pieces, in a small bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Don't stir.
When the chocolate looks almost melted, pour the hot espresso over it and stir once. Cut the butter into small pieces—the smaller the better—and add to the melted chocolate. Push the butter down under the surface of the chocolate with a spoon (as best you can) and let soften.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and cocoa. Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a large mixing bowl. Stir the yolks together.
Now, working quickly but gently, remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and stir until the butter has melted into the chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir in the egg yolks. Do this quickly, mixing firmly and evenly so the eggs blend into the mixture. Fold in the beets. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold in the sugar. Firmly but gently, fold the beaten egg whites and sugar into the chocolate mixture. A large metal spoon is what you want here; work in a deep, figure-eight movement but take care not to overmix. Lastly, fold in the flour and cocoa.
Transfer quickly to the prepared cake pan and put in the oven, decreasing the heat immediately to 325 F. Bake for forty minutes. The rim of the cake will feel spongy, the inner part should still wobble a little when the pan is gently shaken.
Set the cake aside to cool (it will sink a tad in the center) loosening it around the edges with a thin icing spatula after half an hour or so. It is not a good idea to remove the cake from its pan until it is completely cold. Serve in thick slices, with creme fraiche and poppy seeds. (Or with sweetened whipped cream?)