Beet and Zucchini Chocolate Bundt Cake

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 healthy raw vegetables aren’t reason enough to bake this impressive cake; it’s more a nutritious perk. Do it because it’s satisfying to make a bundt cake to display it on your countertop in all its glossy gorgeousness. Mostly though, bake this cake because it tastes delicious.

Why Add Beets & Zucchini to Cake?

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 in my vegetable boxes at the moment.

Can you Taste the Beets and Zucchini?

When I served the cake to my kids, I didn’t tell them about the vegetables. I wasn’t trying to pull one over on them, but simply curious to see if they’d notice. They didn’t. What they did do was ask for seconds. The richness and depth of the chocolate seems to mask the flavor of the vegetables. The beets and zucchini deliver texture and nutritional value without making the cake taste like you’re eating a plate of crudité.

What Makes this a Healthy Cake?

I’d like to be clear from the outset that I don’t consider this cake to be health food.  However, it may qualify as healthier or healthy-ish and here’s why:

  • Some of the flour is whole grain.
  • It swaps in olive oil for some of the butter.
  • Dark chocolate is a known antioxidant.
  • It has less sugar than other cakes of its kind.
  • It’s made with vegetables!

That said, this is still very much a cake. Relish and enjoy it like you would any other treat.

Tips for Baking Beet and Zucchini Chocolate Bundt Cake

This is a relatively straightforward and easy recipe, though it does take some time. Here are a few tips that might help along the way:

  1. Choose the best quality chocolate within your budget and go for bittersweet for a full-flavored cake with less sugar. I’m partial to Guittard brand chocolate, but there are plenty of other great options in the marketplace.
  2. Be sure to grease and flour your bundt pan generously so the cake slips out with ease.
  3. Keep an eye on the cake as it bakes, checking it when its nearly done.  You don’t want to overcook this cake. Moist and tender is what you’re aiming for. 
  4. If little bits of green from the zucchini will be cause for alarm in your house, just peel before grating. 

Be sure to check out these other tasty chocolate cake recipes!

Almost Flourless French Chocolate Cake

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Gluten-Free Texas Sheet Cake by Milk & Honey Nutrition

Dark Chocolate Brownies by Ellie Krieger

Beet and Zucchini Chocolate Bundt Cake

A delicious, decadent cake that happens to have a pretty generous amount of beets and zucchini in the mix. When I served it 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.

Course Dessert
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Resting time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 12 generous servings
Calories 450 kcal
Author Jennie Schact

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup gently packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup gently packed grated raw zucchini
  • 1 cup gently packed peeled and grated raw red beets
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Glaze

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Instructions

  1. 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.)

  2. To make the cake, whisk together the whole-wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into a bowl. Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a handheld mixer), beat together the olive oil, butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and creamy, about 4 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.

  4. 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.
  5. Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes. 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.

  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Makes 12 generous servings, 16 to 20 "kid size" servings

Adapted and reprinted with permission from Farmers’ Market Desserts, Jennie Schacht, Chronicle Books, 2010

Comments

08.11.2011 at 10:05 AM #

Jennie Schacht

Katie, thanks so much for sharing one of my favorite chocolate cakes. Yours looks gorgeous! On the subject of hiding veggies, that honestly wasn’t my intent with this one — it’s just a side benefit. The zukes and beets are in there purely because it makes a better cake — moist and earthy and deeply satisfying. There are still plenty of butter, eggs, and cream in there, but it’s about half what you’d need without the veggies. Happy baking!

08.11.2011 at 10:05 AM #

katiemorford

Thanks for the comment, Jennie. Agreed…a side benefit….and sort of interesting as well.

08.11.2011 at 10:14 AM #

Kristen

I had a slice of this and it was moist and delicious and chocolatey…a winner!

08.11.2011 at 10:14 AM #

katiemorford

Thank you!

08.11.2011 at 10:28 AM #

Leslie

Katie — This looks yummy. Thank you! I have and use Jessica Seinfeld’s book but the kids know what’s in stuff — they often request the spinach brownies! 🙂

08.11.2011 at 10:28 AM #

katiemorford

oohhh….I’ve made black bean brownies…but not spinach ones. I’m intrigued.

08.12.2011 at 5:30 AM #

Expertmom

What a cake! But in all honesty, wouldn’t it be better to just have them eat the veggies without the chocolate. I hope I can get around to trying this one once they are back in playschool and I will have some time to be a person again. Thanks! 🙂

08.14.2011 at 9:19 PM #

Peter

With a full house and house guests for the weekend, the cake was perfect. It was enjoyed at all times of the day, with ice cream for dessert and in sneaked slices.

08.14.2011 at 9:19 PM #

katiemorford

The sneaked slices are the best kind.

11.21.2011 at 8:49 AM #

Charlotte

I made this the other night for dessert at our neighbor’s and it was a big hit. The kids and adults all loved it. I made a little whipped cream on the side which never hurts. I pulled the cake out at 42 minutes and the toothpick was not comPletely clean, but I’m glad I pulled it out when I did as I think it would have been dry otherwise. Thanks, katie! This was delicious and even made me feel a little healthy while eating chocolate cake 🙂

11.21.2011 at 8:49 AM #

katiemorford

Awesome. I love getting the feedback. I agree, cooking it just right is key. And ovens do differ so best to check early and play it safe rather than risk over-baking.

07.18.2012 at 1:46 PM #

Mary Fujii

Hi Katie,

I’m new to your delightful site (by way of Snack Girl) and glad that you put your RD out there! (I think credibility is everything!)

I am disappointed that you did not compare the nutritional defferences of this cake recipe with a more traditional chocolate cake. I have not looked at other recipes you’ve posted yet, but I find the nutritional analysis of recipes very helpful.

With just the brief exploring I’ve done on your site, I’m so glad that you’re out there, promoting a healthful approach to raising more open-minded (when it comes to food) kids and to cooking.

Mary Fujii, RD

07.18.2012 at 1:46 PM #

katiemorford

Hi Mary

So glad you found me. It would be interesting to do a comparison of the cake to a traditional one. I’ll add that to my to do list. What would be interesting is not just to consider the fat/calories, but also to think about the added nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals the beets and zucchini might add. Thanks for the comment.

08.15.2012 at 8:42 PM #

Heather

This cake looks like the answer for the out-of-control zucchini situation that greets summer’s end… I’ve been on a chocolate zucchini bread bender, but this looks sexier! Can I swap canola oil for the butter and if so, how much? Thanks!

08.15.2012 at 8:42 PM #

katiemorford

It seems to me that canola oil would work in a cake like this. The flavor may be slightly affected but I imagine it would still be delicious and tender. The only way to know for sure is to make it! If you do, report back!

11.19.2013 at 6:13 AM #

Julie

Wow! This is a delicious cake. My family didn’t believe it had beets and zucchini in it. Thank you for sharing.

07.31.2015 at 9:14 AM #

[email protected] Athletic avocado

I love how you sneaked in some beets and zucchini, I would have never known until i saw the ingredients! Veggies do wonderful things when added to baked goods!

07.31.2015 at 9:14 AM #

katiemorford

I agree….they make this cake super moist and it remains very decadent tasting.

07.31.2015 at 1:12 PM #

Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

My own preference, I cry when veggies aren’t in baked goods, pancakes, etc 😉 ALWAYS add them, but I do make every vegan so that may be why too 😉

07.31.2015 at 1:12 PM #

katiemorford

Too funny. Yes, to veggies in pancakes!

08.14.2019 at 1:14 PM #

Kathy

Can i use gluten free flour in place of the whole wheat flour?

08.14.2019 at 1:14 PM #

katiemorford

Hi Kathy,

I haven’t tried this with gluten-free flour. I would suggest a gluten-free all-purpose flour. Let me know if you make it!

Post Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *