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 Healthier 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:
- 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.
- Be sure to grease and flour your bundt pan generously so the cake slips out with ease.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
- 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
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 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, whisk together the whole-wheat pastry flour, all-purpose 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 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.
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 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.
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
Adapted and reprinted with permission from Farmers’ Market Desserts, Jennie Schacht, Chronicle Books, 2010