Beetroot, beets, red beets, dinner beets or chukandar (Hindi) are a winter vegetable in North America while available year round in India. But in terms of appearance on our menus, Sakshi and I have time and again come to the conclusion that chukandar was used sparingly, in a few forms and mostly in the winters. That has pretty much cemented a seasonal association with this root vegetable. Another similarly seasonal vegetable is gajar or carrot. So, this winter with a new found interest in using beets I combined these two to make a nutty beetroot cake with carrots.
Nutty, earthy, slightly fruity and sweet with speckles of jewel toned diced beets dispersed throughout like sparkly tutti frutti, this cake is a great vehicle for enjoying winter produce.
Eat your beets!
Like most vegetables this one is healthy too (you’ve likely heard that before!). From a nutritional perspective, chukandar/beets are more carbohydrates than protein and fat. But even then they are a good source of fibre and several vitamins and minerals. The sugar beet used for extracting sugar in most of Europe, America as well as Australia and New Zealand is a cousin of the beetroot. Both kinds are subspecies of Beta Vulgaris and their sweetness is on a sliding scale. I have come to appreciate the earthy and mildly sweet flavor of red beets. In this cake that earthiness accompanies the sweetness of carrots and the crunch of nuts. It is a treat for the palette.
Tips for getting good results:
Before we dive into the recipe, tips to help you get good results.
- High moisture content: The combination of ingredients – beets and carrots along with milk – make this batter quite runny and wet. I highly recommend trying the recipe as is. But if you choose to replace or add ingredients such as maple syrup/honey for added flavor, be careful to reduce the amount of milk proportionally.
- Baking it low and slow: This cake takes a leaf out of the Rum Soaked Carrot Cake recipe already on the blog. A wetter batter needs a long bake time at a lower temperature. Sure you can crank up the temperature but there are pitfalls of doing that. Cooking at a higher temperature will make all the moisture steam out really quickly, fissuring the cake, making it rise before it is cooked evenly and eventually it will sink in the center. The end result will be a stodgy cake. So try not to be in a rush. Patience will be rewarded deliciously!
- Blanched beets with fresh carrots: For this recipe just as for the Beetroot Salad with Feta and Walnuts I used blanched/steamed beets for this cake. I have not made it with uncooked beets, though I reckon they will cook while in the oven. Carrots go in as is, freshly cleaned, peeled and grated. This is usual for most carrot cakes. An alternative would be to simmer them in milk in addition to soaking. I have not done that yet, it is on my list of things to try. Look out for a recipe update with these minor adjustments!
Now onto the recipe.
Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes; Baking time: 40-50 minutes
Ingredients for Beetroot Cake
- Carrots and Beets 2 cups
- Milk 1 cup
- Sugar 1 cup
- Oil or unsalted butter 4 tbsp
- Eggs 2
- Vanilla essence 1 tsp
- All Purpose Flour 1 cup
- Baking Powder 1 tsp
- Baking Soda 1/2 tsp
- Salt 1/2 tsp
- Cinnamon, powdered 1 tsp
- Nutmeg, grated 1/2 to 1 tsp
- Chopped nuts 1/2 cup (toasted walnuts, almonds, cashews)
- Additional oil and flour for dusting the cake tin
You’ll need a set of mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, a whisk or fork to mix the batter and a 9 inch cake/bundt pan.
Let’s bake a nutty beetroot cake with carrots
First, steam the beets
Wash and trim the edges. Then steam them in either a pressure cooker or instant pot. See detailed instructions here. Or use already cooked store bought beets. Be careful which ones you choose. Do not use canned beets! I would recommend something like this pack from Love Beets.
Avoid using canned beets. They have too much moisture. In my experience the moisture did not cook off even at the end of a 50 minute bake.
Once the beets are cooked, cool and peel them. Then finely dice two to three small beets. This should be enough for 1 cup. Decide how many you need based on the size of available beets.
Next, wash, peel and grate 3 to 4 carrots up to 1 cup for a total of 2 cups combined beets and carrots. There is no hard and fast ratio for the two. I used orange carrots which were easily available. Use any that you can find, yellow, orange, black, red.
Soak prepped beets and carrots in milk. Keep aside until later.
Preheat the oven to 350 F ~ 177 C
Apply a light coating of oil or unsalted butter on the inside of your cake pan and dust flour over it. Turn to spread flour evenly and turn over to remove any extra unstuck flour. This method of preparing the pan is used widely by bakers to ease a cooled cake out of the pan.
Roast and chop nuts
While the oven preheats, lightly roast the nuts you plan to use. I used a mix of walnuts, almonds and cashews. Toast them in an OTG or in a pan. Then cool and roughly chop as fine as possible. Very large pieces will sink to the bottom. Chopping them finely will ensure even dispersal throughout the cake.
Cream eggs, sugar and oil
In a large mixing bowl, large enough to accommodate all the ingredients, add oil and sugar. Beat and cream them into a crumbly mixture such that all sugar is coated in fat. Beat in one egg at a time until smooth and shiny. Do not over beat. Add vanilla essence and mix in.
Measure all the dry ingredients
In a bowl measure flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices – cinnamon and nutmeg. Feel free to add any additional spices you’d like to use. Whisk well or sieve to thoroughly mix in the salt and raising agents. Next, add all the chopped nuts and mix in well.
Assemble and stir the batter
To the mixing bowl with creamed sugar and eggs, add the flour mix and soaked carrots and beets. Since this batter is bound to be rather wet tip in everything together and gentle turn and mix. Be careful not to whisk too much. Tip batter into previously prepared cake tin. By this time the oven should be ready to bake.
Bake the beetroot cake
Place the cake pan in the center of the middle rack in a 350 F oven. Close and put on a timer for 50 minutes. You could check at the 40 minute mark by inserting a cake tester or toothpick. I highly recommend not disturbing the cake or opening the oven until 50 minutes have passed. If the tester comes out sticky, continue to bake in 10 minute increments until a tester comes out clean, especially in the center. With a wet batter the center takes the longest time to cook.
Cool the cake before removing from the pan and slicing it. If using a bundt pan like I did, cool for a few minutes and then turn it upside down preferably over a cooling rack or then a plate. Let it release on its own. If that doesn’t work tap the mould all the way round and wait. Rushing this process can lead to breakage with some of the cake stuck inside the mould.
Enjoy beetroot cake with vanilla ice cream!
I loved testing cake and have baked it again for its vibrant colors, textures and flavor. It is divine when served with good vanilla ice cream. Try it!
If you bake it, please share your feedback and experience.
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A Nutty Beetroot Cake with Carrots
- 1 9 inch cake pan or Bundt pan
- Measuring cups and spoons
- 2 Cup Shredded carrots and chopped beets boiled/steamed beets
- 1 Cup Milk
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 4 Tbsp Olive oil or unsalted butter most mild cooking oils will do, such as canola or sunflower
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Tsp Vanilla essence
- 1 Cup All purpose flour
- 1 Tsp Baking powder
- 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- 1 Tsp Cinnamon powdered
- 1/2 to 1 Tsp Nutmeg grated
- 1/2 Cup Assorted nuts toasted and chopped
- Additional oil and flour for preparing cake pan
Steam and prepare beets
- Thoroughly wash beets and trim the ends. Steam in a pressure cooker or instant pot. Detailed instructions here.
- Once the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and finely chop them. Use enough to get 1 cup chopped beets.
Clean and grate carrots and soak in milk with beets
- Wash, peel and grate carrots. I used 3 to get 1 cup grated carrots. In a separate bowl soak beets and carrots in 1 cup milk.
- Preheat oven to 350 F ~ 177 C
Roast and chop nuts
- Toast nuts in a pan or oven toaster grill. Then roughly chop into fine pieces.
Cream sugar, eggs and oil
- In a large mixing bowl, big enough to combine all batter ingredients, measure sugar and oil and mix well until crumbly. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat until smooth and shiny ~ 5 minutes. Do not overheat. Add vanilla essence and stir in.
Measure all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl
- In a medium bowl measure dry ingredients – APF, salt, baking powder and baking soda as well as spices – cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well to evenly distribute all raising agents or sieve them. Add in all the chopped nuts.
Combine the batter
- Now, in the bowl with creamed sugar and eggs, add all the soaked carrots and beets and dry ingredients. Mix in well with a whisk, fork or spatula. Fold and turn to mix well, do not beat or whisk too hard.
Bake in a 350 F oven for up to 1 hour
- Pour the batter in a prepared 9 inch cake tin or Bundt pan. Prepare the inside by adding a small amount of oil followed by a dusting of flour. Make sure you remove any extra flour.
- Place pan in the center of the middle rack in a 350 F oven. Bake for 50 minutes or until a tester/toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool before slicing and serve warmed with ice cream.