Well, hello. After four weeks of travel — culminating in the tale of the Five-Spice Science Cookie, but we’ll talk about that later — I am back in my kitchen. I didn’t want to regale you with tales of Toronto or Austin cuisine, which expanded my culinary horizons but not my jeans. Is this thing on?
In my travels — the night of one of the best homemade meals I’ve had in years — a friend had the San Antonio Women’sLeague cookbook from 2003 or, possibly 1903. After all, the Treacle Scone recipe noted it was “the gift of a Scottish noblewoman”; I immediately bolted upright, shouting “Get me 22 Episodes.”
And one of the recipes was for Chocolate Beetnik Cake, which incorporated a cup and a half of mashed beets. And I flashed back on my mom’s — and my — chocolate sauerkraut cake, which rinsed and pulverized sauerkraut to trap flavor, add moisture and change the flavor profile of the cocoa with acid.
The recipe calls for mashed beets or beet baby food, but this was no time for half-measures. Beets were boiled and mashed, with three medium beets a skotch short of the 1.5 cups.
This cake also reminded me of the best thing I learned from Harold McGee’s new Keys to good Cooking, which is that no amount of timing or lore will substitute for checking you food in the oven with your hands and senses. I had to double the baking time of this cake, and I believe it was worth it. (See below test toothpicks from, clockwise, 40 Mins, 1hr, 1h20m.)
Chocolate Beetnik Cake
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar 3 and eggs. Combine 1 1/2 cups oil and 1 1/2 cups mashed beets. Add beet-oil mixture to sugar-egg mixture. Whisk. Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 tsp soda, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 cup cocoa. Add to wet mixture.
Butter a bundt pan and sprinkle it with cocoa. (Sprays of oil/tflour, or butter-and-flour, can leave unattractive white streaks.)
Pour batter into pan carefully (note shabby thermometer-cover to prevent batter loss).
Bake for 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. (The recipe said 30 mins; I baked with my finicky oven for 1 hr.20 mins.)
Let cool on rack; depan to plate.
Glaze warm cake with a two-two-one mix of sugar, bourbon and cocoa.
Serve with whip cream.
Extra-Scary Treacle Scone Recipe Bonus!
Call up Mystery Incorporated for .. “The Spooky Scones of the Scottish Noblewoman!”