Monday, November 10, 2008

Where Community's Organically Grown

Whoa. It’s been three months since we last posted - that's practically an eternity. In that amount of time, Kathryn and I started senior year, turned 22 and 21 respectively, have been asked about our post-grad plans about 182938109284039248 different times, and most importantly, witnessed the election of Barak Obama – I’m definitely still feeling the post-election glow.

Because patience should always be rewarded, I offer all of our devoted readers out there a truly fabulous recipe for Chocolate Beet Cake. I made this over fall break, when I went on an Alt-Break service trip with other Grinnellians to Community Homestead, which is an intentional community and organic farming operation for families and people with special needs. It was a locavore's dream vacation. In exchange for our work on the farm, we got to eat many a vegetable soup, made with freshly harvested produce, drank raw milk from their dairy barn, and ravenously consumed the homemade cookies and bread from their certified organic bakery. Being a part of this community and seeing the physical labor of food production really made me appreciate the sacredness of food, something that is often missing from my mind when I go shopping at the super market.

We also got to take part in their weekly potluck supper, and we brought over the aforementioned beet cake, and we got to use some of the beets that we had harvested earlier in the week. Here it is:

Bringing a cake made out of beets gets you some serious farm-cred at a country potluck - we even upped the anty by coloring our frosting and a powdered sugar glaze with the leftover beet roasting liquid and carved an extra beet into a shape of a heart and stuck it in the center of the bundt. As for the cake itself, the beets lend a really subtle earthy flavor to the chocolate and give it a supremely moist texture. Not only a conversation piece and way to use up the last of your autumnal root vegetables, I swear you will enjoy the cake for its pure and simple flavors. Enjoy.

Chocolate Beet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Washington Post June 7, 2006


* 3 medium beets
* 1 cup vegetable oil
* 1 1/2 cups flour
* 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour or pastry flour
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 4 tablespoons butter
* 3/4 cup cocoa powder
* 3 large eggs
* 1 3/4 cups sugar
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* confectioners' sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash the beets and put them in a roasting pan and add 1/2 cup water. Cover and put in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until approximately fork tender. Reserve the juice from the beet pan and set aside. Peel and coarsely chop the beets, and then puree them in a blender with the oil. Set aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a bundt pan with butter and dust with either flour or cocoa powder. In a medium bowl, stir the flours, baking sode, and salt. Set Aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and cocoa powder together in the microwave, making sure to stir the mixture at least every minute to make sure that the butter doesn't burn. Once the mixture is smooth, set aside.

With a hand-held, stand mixture, or good old fashioned egg beaters, combine the eggs and sugar in large bowl, and beat until the eggs are fluffy and change to a pale yellow color. Slowly incorporate the beet puree, the chocolate mixture, and the vanilla. Gently fold in the flour mixture until it is just mixed in. Pour the batter in the pan, and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Set aside, and let it cool. Meanwhile, make the frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from March 2008 Bon Appetit


* 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
* 2 cups powdered sugar
* 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperatur
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* reserve beet roasting liquid (optional)

Combine all ingredients except for the beet roasting liquid. Add the reserve beet roasting liquid in tsp increments until the frosting becomes an appealing shade of salmon pink. Frost the cake, and serve.

Happy Cooking,


WhitneyKnopf said...

Mmm! Yummo! This looks fabulous, girls. I wish I could reach through the computer screen and take an itsy-bitsy bite.

Anonymous said...

you spelled "barack" wrong.