From the looks of this cake you’d never guess that a full two cups of raw vegetables go into the batter. From the taste of it you’d never suspect the presence of beets and zucchini either. But grated raw vegetables aren’t reason enough to bake this cake; it’s more a nutritious perk. Do it because it’s satisfying to make a bundt cake and to display it on your countertop in all its glossy gorgeousness. Mostly though, bake this cake because it tastes delicious.
The recipe is from Jennie Schacht’s inspiring cookbook Farmers’ Market Desserts. The vegetables lend moisture and sturdiness to the cake while helping to maintain a tender crumb. I suspect back in the day, vegetables went into cake batter when there was a surplus in the garden. I can’t think of a more decadent way to use up the overgrown zucchini teaming in my vegetable boxes at the moment.
When I served the cake to my kids, I didn’t tell them about the vegetables. It’s not because I was trying to pull one over on them, but because I was curious to see if they’d notice. They didn’t. What they did do, was ask for seconds.
Now, I’m off to the garden….I’ve got a cake to bake.
FARMER’S SECRET CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup gently packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat Greek-style yogurt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup gently packed peeled and grated raw zucchini
1 cup gently packed peeled and grated raw red beets
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream or milk
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the lower third. Generously butter a 10-cup Bundt pan. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess. (Alternatively, use a 9-by-2-inch square baking pan.)
To make the cake, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into a bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a handheld mixer), beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and creamy, about 5 minutes. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, beating well and stopping and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Mix in the yogurt and vanilla. On low speed, add the flour mixture and beat until nearly combined but still streaky. (The batter will be thick.) Use a wooden spoon or a spatula to stir in the zucchini, beets, and chocolate chips.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes and then test to see if it’s done by inserting a long toothpick or thin wooden skewer midway between the inner and outer edges of the pan. If no wet batter appears on the skewer, it’s done. If it doesn’t come out clean, continue to cook another few minutes and test again. Don’t overcook the cake or it will be dry.
Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Using oven mitts if needed, invert a flat serving plate over the pan and invert the pan and plate together to release the cake. Lift off the pan and let cool completely.
To make the glaze, heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until steam begins to rise and bubbles form along the edge of the pan. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate, and let stand for 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Let the glaze stand until thick but still pourable, about 10 minutes. (Rewarm if it gets too thick).
Pour the glaze in a circular motion over the top of the completely cooled cake, allowing some to drip down the center and sides. Allow the glaze to set for about 1 hour before serving.
Store leftover cake, tightly covered, at room temperature for up to 1 day. Or, refrigerate for up to 5 days, then let stand at room temperatures for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.
Makes 12 generous servings, 16 to 20 “kid size” servings
Reprinted with permission from Farmers’ Market Desserts, Jennie Schacht, Chronicle Books, 2010