In my quest to bake more, I came across a recipe (from Nigella, originally) for beetroot and cranberry cake. The Romans considered beetroot to be an aphrodisiac, and apparently the belief is still held today that if a man and a woman eat from the same beetroot, they will fall in love.
The promise of pink cake mixture appealed to my girly side and indeed it was pink. So were my fingers, nails and everything I touched.
1 large or 2 small uncooked beetroot, weighing about 200gr
200gr very soft unsalted butter
Grated zest and juice 1/2 lemon
200gr caster sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
150gr dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
150gr plain flour, sifted
150gr self-raising flour, sifted
2lb loaf tin, lined with baking parchment
Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, gas mark 4.
Peel the beetroot, then grate it using the finer grating blade of a food processor or fine side of a hand grater.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, lemon zest and sugar together until pale and creamy, then add the eggs one at a time, beating in well.
Stir in the beetroot, dried cranberries, lemon juice and nutmeg.
Stir in the flours and spoon the mixture into the loaf tin, spreading evenly.
Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 50 - 60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Let the loaf cake cool in the tin, then set on a rack, before turning it out and slicing thickly.
The cake was very moist and just the right sweetness. The dried cranberries plumped out during the baking and became fat and juicy, the beetroot lent itself to a subte earthiness. The flavours were slightly reminiscent of Christmas, due to the nutmeg. Sadly the cake itself lost some of it's pinkness, but perhaps that isn't such a bad thing...