Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Healthy Root Vegetable Cake(Better than it Sounds)

I first saw this cake in the video below and was immediately intrigued. Although at first, I was just curious as to how it would taste, I started to realize that beet cake would probably taste really good. The earthiness of beets pairs really well with the deep rich flavors of chocolate and if you didn't tell anyone, this could easily pass off as a light chocolate cake with veggie undertones.  Since I first found this recipe, I've come across many other recipes for beet cake. I decided to go with this one because it used less chocolate and more beets. I really wanted to taste the beets in this cake and didn't want to end up with a chocolate cake.

beet cake from tiger in a jar on Vimeo.

It came out great, it is just lightly sweet and chocolatey and the beets make it incredibly moist. I was surprised because the batter was quite thick and dense going into the oven, but it came out light and so soft and spongy that I had trouble picking it up without breaking. This is a great "everyday" type of cake that you could enjoy as a snack on its own and would also be great layered up with frosting for a more special occasion if you so desire.

Beet Cake
Recipe from Tiger in a Jar
Makes a 9 inch round single layer or an 8 by 8 inch square layer

2 cups beet puree
2 cups all purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup butter
4 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt.

With a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the butter with the sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time. Then, add the melted chocolate, the beet puree, and the vanilla. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients and beat for two more minutes. Pour batter into a parchment lined pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool before cutting. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

What I've Been Looking For - The Baguette

It's taken me quite a few tries to finally find a baguette recipe that is pretty close to those you get at a bakery. Leave it to the bakers over at King Arthur to come up with a recipe for the best at home baguette I've tried thus far. It has the holes and chewiness I've been looking for along with the flavor that results from a long rise. Although the ingredients are extremely simple, what you end up with is complex in taste and well worth the effort. I've had this recipe bookmarked for several months and can't believe I've waited this long to try it out. This makes great toast, sandwich bread, and of course is amazing right out of the oven.

I recommend watching the videos on the site to learn how to shape your baguettes because they also offer some great tips on ensuring you get the best end product. After a few times, I still haven't really gotten the hang of shaping baguettes yet. However, no matter how it looks, it will still taste amazing if properly risen. Compared to my other bread recipes, this dough is much softer and stickier. The higher moisture content actually contributes to creating those holes you want, so don't be tempted to add too much flour to this dough if it feels sticky. Just sprinkle a light dusting of flour on the outside and it should be easy enough to handle.

Sprinkled with parmesan before baking
If you've been looking for an at home baguette that rivals most bakeries, give this a try. It's actually much easier than you might think. The process is long, but it's mostly just time spent waiting for it to rise. I'm also excited to try the stuffed version next time.

Classic Baguette
Recipe from King Arthur Flour
Makes 3 medium baguettes or 2 larger ones

Starter - Make the night before
1/2 cup cool water
1 cup bread flour
1/16 tsp active dry yeast

Mix the water with the yeast and let sit for about 5 minutes to activate. Then mix in the flour forming a soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place overnight.

All the starter
1-1 1/4 cups warm water
1 tsp dry active yeast
3 - 3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, mix the warm water with the yeast and let sit for a few minutes to activate. Add all the starter and mix on medium for a minute or so to incorporate the starter. Add the flour gradually and mix on medium low speed until it comes together. Add the salt, then mix for another 5-10 minutes so that the dough is properly kneaded.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and let rise for three hours in a warm place, turning it gently every hour.

After three hours, lightly punch down the dough to eliminate any large gas bubbles, then divide the dough and preshape into a flat oval-like shape. Let rest for 15 minutes. Shape your dough into baguettes by folding the oval lengthwise, sealing the fold with the palm of your hand, then repeating the process, and rolling it out a bit into a log.

Let your baguettes rise another 1 1/2 hours covered with a cloth or oiled plastic wrap. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 425-450 degrees F. Slash your loaves and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding.

You can spritz with water for a crunchier crust, but I like the texture without spritzing. The baguettes keep well for a few days or freeze them and reheat when needed.
After the 3 hour rise