Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and left home at eighteen to study at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel is now a busy ...
275 g (10oz) beetroot, leaves removed
250 g (9oz) dark chocolate, in drops or broken into pieces
250 g (9oz) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
300 g (11oz) caster sugar
75 g (3oz) plain flour
50 g (2oz) cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
Prepare the beetroot by trimming the stalks to about 2cm (3?4”) from the end, then wash carefully under a cold tap. Do not scrub them – simply rub off any dirt with your fingers. You don’t want to damage the skin or tails otherwise the beetroot will ‘bleed’ while cooking.
Place the beetroot in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and continue to simmer for between 30 minutes and 1 hour, depending on the size and age of the beetroot. They are cooked when their skins rub off easily and a knife can easily be inserted into the centre of each beetroot.
When they are cooked, rub off the skins and discard, then cut into chunks. Place in a food processor and whiz for a few minutes to form a smooth purée, then set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). If the cake tin (20cm/8” diameter square tin) has a removable base, butter the sides and line the base with a square of baking parchment, otherwise line the base and sides of the tin.
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave just until melted, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat and set aside.
Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl for just a few seconds until mixed, then gradually add these to the creamed butter mixture, beating all the time.
Beat in the puréed beetroot and melted chocolate, then sift in the remaining ingredients, folding these in until fully combined. Tip the batter into the prepared baking tin, smoothing the top with a palette knife or spatula.
Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the centre of the cake is almost set but still wobbles when you gently shake the tin.
Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Allow to cool completely in the tin before carefully removing the cake and cutting into squares to serve. (If you can resist them for that long, these will keep for a few days in an airtight container.)
Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.