A fantastical vegetable! One that is versatile, easy to grow or get hold of locally, minimal packaging and highly nutritious. It is one of my favourites. And alongside cabbage and potatoes, I spend a lot of time thinking about, talking about and cooking with BEETROOT.
And this week I am particularly pleased with beetroot adventures. My kids have packed lunches twice a week. It was a hard fought campaign on their part. School dinners seem a much more environmentally friendly option to me. Whilst I don't know the ins and outs of my children's school canteen, they have vegetarian options, they bulk buy and batch cook, and as a result there is less packaging and less energy used than, (I guess), the average packed lunch.
BUT.... the social impact of school dinners for a seven year old is not to be underestimated. Cool classmates have packed lunches on a daily basis, packed lunches which can be eaten outside in the playground. Gang culture is rife and it turns out that if you're out, you're IN. But if you're in, you're well... out.
So they have packed lunch once or twice a week which seem to have created a social balance. Phew for them. A little more thought and angst for me. Hmmm. Sustainable and edible packed lunches. The cool stuff is invariably individually wrapped in plastic. We have got some lovely beeswax wraps for their sandwiches. And they have their reusable bottles. Fruit, perfect. But crisps, biscuits and yogurt, yikes!
Whilst we're not even touching on yogurt yet, crisp experiments are in the pipeline next year, and in the meantime we have been experimenting with homemade cakes that are transportable and acceptable to the packed lunch brigade. Gulp.
We've had mixed success with flapjacks and rock cakes. But THIS cake has turned out to be a surprise winner. And the best thing, it includes that lovely purple vegetable that I keep talking about!
Super moist, super rich and delightful to kids. What's not to love?
Beetroot Chocolate Cake
This cake is originally from BBC Good Food. It freezes really really well (it's almost better after it's been frozen. Weird, I know.) I always make two at a time. One for us and one for either the freezer or a person I particularly like that week.
175g cooked beetroot (approx 2 medium sized)
a pinch of salt
200g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
1tbsp baking powder
250g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
200ml sunflower oil
100g roughly chopped dark chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 170C and line or grease a 900g loaf tin.
2. Peel, chop and cook 175g beetroot until tender. Microwave is the quickest method.
3. Pop the cooked beetroot into a food processor and add all of the rest of the ingredients - except the oil and chocolate - and pulse until you have a thick, but smooth batter.
4. Slowly add in 200ml of sunflower oil, creating a really glossy, well mixed batter.
5. Lightly mix in the dark chocolate, pour into the tin and cook for about 50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake as it can dry out quite fast and it can be hard to tell because of the colour.
This is totally delicious warm, but is equally good after a couple of days in a tin, or a couple of weeks in the freezer.