This Christmas period I have so far cooked four enormous meals in four different houses as four Christmas presents for friends and family – it’s the best Christmas present I can offer – swooping in to someone else’s kitchen and taking the stress out of catering for large groups of people, repurposing the leftovers into a pile of ready meals for the freezer, before packing my suitcase and moving on to the next one. It’s been a marvellous way to spend the week – I have so far slept in six different beds in as many days and made a lot of new friends, drunk a lot of wine, lost two knives along the way and had glorious fun. I have made a host of new recipes along the way – nothing gets my creative juices flowing like other people’s sparse storecupboards or a host of dietary requirements – and this was one of the winners. Faced with a stinking hangover from the night before’s foray into home made cranberry and orange vodka, a young guest with severe egg allergies, and a limited supply of ingredients, I chanced upon a beetroot, threw it unpeeled in the blender, added it to a vegan chocolate cake recipe I had up my sleeve, and this was born. And oh, so sumptuous, so delicious, so gloriously purple, and the grateful grin from a little girl who can rarely eat cake at other people’s houses made thinking through my hangover well worth it.
2-3 raw beetroots (the hard vegetable kind not the pickled-in-vinegar kind)
2 ripe bananas
120ml cooking oil
200g coconut cream
275g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g cocoa powder or 100g dark choc
100g-200g sugar depending on taste (even at the 200g end, this is barely 2 tsp sugar each per slice)
First preheat your oven to 180C and slice your beetroot, and toss into a blender with the bananas, oil, bicarb and coconut cream. Pulse to a vibrant pink paste, and scrape into a mixing bowl.
Add the flour, cocoa powder and sugar and mix well, adding a splash of water to loosen the mixture if required. Mix a bit more, and a bit more, to a glossy maroon batter. I fell in love with it at this point – the colour, the sweetness of the coconut milk and banana, the earthiness of the cocoa and raw beetroot; having never made a beetroot cake before now, I was pretty much blown away when I licked the spoon.
Lightly grease a loaf tin and scrape the batter mixture in. Pop into the oven on the middle shelf for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. And enjoy!
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