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Totally Unicorn Beetroot Cake


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“Folks, this is a REAL red velvet cake made from beets instead of ridiculous amounts of red food colouring,” Poh Ling Yeow says of this recipe from her new cookbook Same Same But Different.

“If you’re turning up your nose at what seems an unlikely marriage, try it first. The combination of earthy beets, bitter, smoky dark chocolate and slightly salty cream cheese is heavenly!

Same-Same-9780733328312“Totally Unicorn is a heavy metal band and my brother-in-law, Mikey, is their illustrious drummer. Whenever they go on tour and stay with us, this is what they get for supper after a night of intense head banging.”

Totally Unicorn Beetroot Cake


Cake batter
300g (about 5 medium-sized) beetroots, leaves and root tips trimmed off
3 large eggs, whisked
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), roughly chopped
200g caster sugar
220g plain flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking soda, sifted
100g dark drinking chocolate powder, sifted

Cream cheese icing
125g cream cheese, softened
½ cup (60g) icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Dark chocolate ganache
100ml cream
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa),
roughly chopped

Special equipment: disposable rubber gloves + round 20cm cake tin + blender OR stick blender + electric cake mixer


Preheat the oven to 180C or 170C fan-forced.

To make beetroot purée, wrap each beetroot in foil with 1 teaspoon of water in each
parcel and place in a heatproof dish to roast for 30-45 minutes, depending on the
size of the beetroot. The beets are ready when tender enough to be pierced without
much resistance, much like a potato.

Poh-cake-fullRemove the foil wrapping from the beets, cool for 5 minutes and then rub the skins off. Wear gloves as they will shield you from the heat and red stain of the beets. Weigh out 250g of beets, then chop roughly and pulverise with a blender OR stick  blender. Cool for about 5 minutes then whisk in the eggs and vanilla until combined.

Turn oven down to 170C or 160C fan-forced. Line the cake tin with baking paper.

Heat the butter in a small saucepan over low–medium heat. When melted, remove
from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir or whisk until chocolate is melted and the
mixture is smooth, then add to beetroot mixture and whisk until combined.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk the dry ingredients briefly, then add the chocolate
beetroot mixture and stir with a whisk until just combined. Pour into the prepared
tin and bake for 45–50 minutes OR until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool
for 5 minutes before turning the cake out onto a cake rack, then cool completely
before icing.

To make the cream cheese icing, simply bung all the ingredients except the lemon
juice into a medium bowl and beat with an electric cake mixer until very pale and
fluffy. Add the lemon juice last and beat until just combined.

To make the chocolate ganache, heat the cream until bubbles begin to appear then
immediately remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until the mixture is
smooth. Be careful not to overboil the cream or it will separate and give you a lumpy
ganache. Allow ganache to rest for 1–2 minutes.

To assemble, slice cooled cake horizontally in half. Spread the icing evenly on one
half and sandwich back together. Meanwhile, tuck small lengths of baking paper
(about 10 x 20cm) partially under the cake to catch any falling ganache – this will
keep the edges of your plate clean. Pour the ganache over the cake and, using
a spatula or butter knife, guide the ganache over the sides. Keep scooping the
cascading ganache from the bottom of the cake and spreading it upwards until it
stops running, then leave it alone or it will lose its gloss from overworking. To finish,
use your spatula to create a soft, swirly pattern, then remove the baking paper
carefully and the cake is ready to serve.

If you are concerned about losing your spot after slicing the cake in half, simply
make a vertical notch on the side of the cake. After icing, lining up the 2 parts
of the notch, which will help you to place the top and bottom layers where they
originally were, giving you a nice flat cake to ganache and any dodgy slicing will
be concealed!

Click here to read Poh’s interview with InDaily about her new cookbook – and her not-so-secret convenience-food vice. 

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