After making my winter vegetable poached chicken, I had an abundance of beets.
Here’s the thing about beets. We have a love/hate relationship. I love them for their earthy sweetness, their abundance of vitamins and minerals, and their versatility. (Craig does not share this love, which makes cooking and eating beets on the reg a bit difficult.) But, I also have to be in the mood for beets. And, unfortunately, that’s not a mood I experience often.
I like beets best in juice or smoothies. All the flavor and nutritional benefits, without much mess or fuss. Their natural sweetness, combined with that gorgeous color, made me think they’d be perfect in a pretty pink baked good celebrating spring.
I used a seasonal flavor, Honeycrisp-Fennel, of Rachel’s Ginger Beer, a local company. I thought the licorice notes of the fennel would pair well with the beets in this recipe, but it’s not necessary if you can’t get your hands on some RGB. The most important factor when choosing ginger beer for this recipe is to make sure that it is actual ginger and is more tart and tangy in flavor than a ginger ale soda (which tends to be much sweeter and more sugar-laden). For best results, I recommend using Reed’s Jamaican Style Ginger Beer or Ginger People Ginger Beer.
While this recipe is based on a traditional pound cake, I altered the ratios to accommodate both the beet puree and the ginger beer. The carbonation of the ginger beer created a cake that was light, airy and spongy, not at all similar to the denser and slightly more dry pound cake. Since gluten-free baked goods are known for being dense and dry, I was quite happy to end up with a final product that was so, for lack of a better word, fluffy.
- Beets from Nash’s Organic Produce
- Ginger beer from Rachel’s Ginger Beer
Is it better to be feared or loved? Loved, because people associate with you because they want to, not because they need to. We need to eat beets, but we want to eat cake. Be the cake of the world.
— Jarod Kintz
Have your beets and eat cake, too.
I tried both boiling and roasting the beets before pureeing. While I am normally a fan of roasting all veggies because it brings out their natural sweetness, I found the boiled beets much, much easier to work with. Like with cooking pasta, save some of the water in which you boiled the beets and add it incrementally (about one tablespoon at a time) when you blend the beets so you get a smooth, creamy puree.
I love the effect that the ginger beer had on the cake batter, yielding a light and airy cake. Unfortunately, most of the ginger flavor was baked out of the cake. This may be because I used a flavored ginger beer, so the ginger was already a less distinct flavor. While I could continue a complicated game of math and ratios and baking, I decided to leave this recipe as is and add a quick ginger beer glaze to add some of that flavor back to the cake after baking. To make a glaze, let ¼ cup of ginger beer sit at room temperature while the cakes are baking. (It will be easy to whisk if it is not so heavily carbonated.) Use two cups of sifted powdered sugar and a pinch of salt, and slowly whisk in the ginger beer until the glaze is smooth and pourable.
Gluten-Free Mini Bundt Cakes with Beets and Ginger Beer
For the cakes:
½ pound purple beets, scrubbed clean
4 ounces (1 stick) of butter, room temperature
4 ounces sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly whisked
8 ounces gluten-free all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces ginger beer
For the glaze:
¼ cup ginger beer
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
Place the clean beet in a saucepan or small pot and cover with cool water. Bring to a boil. Cook the beet until a knife is easily inserted. (The total cooking time will depend on the size of your beet. I used baby beets that were smaller than the palm of my hand, and it took about 20 minutes total to cook.)
When the beet is soft, remove from the boiling water and set aside to cool. Remember to save the beet water. When it’s cool enough to handle, grab the beet with a handful of paper towels and use the towels to rub off the skin and “peel” the beet.
Dice the beet into smaller pieces and add to a blender. Add a few tablespoons of the beet water and puree, adding a little more water if necessary, until the beets are smooth and shiny. Set the puree aside.
Preheat the oven to 350° and grease your mini bundt cake pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed, until the mixture is fluffy and light yellow (about 5 minutes). While the mixer is running, add the eggs a little bit at a time, allowing enough time for the eggs to be fully incorporated into the butter-sugar mixture before adding more. Scrap down the sides as needed.
With the mixer running, add a third of the flour. When the flour is fully incorporated, add the beet puree. Add the next third of flour, then the ginger beer, and then the last of the flour, making sure to incorporate everything fully before adding more.
Scoop the dough into the mini bundt cake pan, filling each mold almost to the top. Bake the cakes for 20 minutes, until the cake is springy when touched and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
While the cakes are cooling, make the glaze by whisking 1/4 cup of ginger beer with 2 cups of sifted powdered sugar and a pinch of salt until smooth and pourable.
Take the pan and gently flip it over to release the bundt cakes. Dip the bundts in the glaze and set aside.
These cakes are best enjoyed the day they are baked. Leftovers should be tightly wrapped.