Thursday, 30 October 2014

Beetroot and Chocolate Cupcakes

This recipe was a bit of an experiment.

I've never used beetroot before - mainly because the smell of it repulses me - but it seemed to keep cropping up all over the place in Halloween-themed recipes so I thought now was as good a time as ever to try it out.

It turns out even though it plays a large part in the recipe, you can't really taste it at all, and these cupcakes are perfect for Halloween.

The original recipe can be found in the fabulous Hummingbird Bakery book, Cake Days, and below with my notes and photos.


For the sponge:
200g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
250g caster sugar
300g cooked and peeled beetroot (Morrisons sell a pack of this in the exact quantity to save you faffing!)
3 large eggs
200ml sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla essence

For the frosting:
600g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter
250g full-fat cream cheese
Edible Halloween-themed shapes, to decorate


Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F / Gas Mark 5, and line 2 12-hole muffin tins with muffin cases.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, then stir in the caster sugar.

Using a food processor with the blade attachment, purée the beetroot until liquid and smooth, then add the eggs one by one, blitzing between each addition. This was particularly difficult for me as I don't have a normal sized food processor, just an attachment for a hand blender, so had to divide the mixture by three and do it in stages. This worked fine, it's just a bit annoying!

With the motor running on the food processor, gradually pour in the oil and vanilla essence, mixing until fully combined.

Gradually pour the beetroot mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients, mixing it in using a hand-held electric whisk and beating until all ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter between the muffin cases, filling each one up to two-thirds full. The recipe technically makes 12-16 cupcakes, but I managed to get 24 out of it, and they were all the perfect size. I can't recommend Lakeland's traditional ice cream scoop enough for this. Just one scoop of the batter fills the cases appropriately, and it comes in for the frosting later on as well. It's definitely worth investing in!

Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until the sponges are risen and bounce back when you press them lightly. Leave in the tins for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely while you make the frosting.

Using an electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, whisk the icing sugar with the butter on a low speed until fully combined and powdery in consistency. Add the cream cheese and mix on a medium-to-high speed until the frosting is light, fluffy and smooth.

Once the cupcakes have cooled down, divide the frosting between them. The Hummingbird Bakery way is to smooth and swirl the frosting with a palette knife - which creates an effect I absolutely adore - or you could pipe it on with a piping bag.

Decorate with Halloween-themed decorations and serve.

I seriously doubted whether or not these would work, but they really, really did. As long as the beetroot is properly blitzed you can't really taste it at all (I can't think of anything worse than chunks of beetroot in a cupcake…). The sponge is incredibly light and moist, and for once the frosting doesn't completely overpower the cake - I find most Hummingbird recipes produce way too much frosting and I'm left with a tub of it for days afterwards, but this one's quantities worked perfectly.

Let me know what you think of these cupcakes in the comments below! Are there any other weird and wonderful flavour combinations you like to use? I'm trying to be a bit more experimental, so I'm totally up for ideas...


I'm giving away a copy of The Great British Bake Off's latest book: Big Book of Baking
All you need to do is comment on this post, or retweet this tweet to be in with a chance of winning.
Competition closes on Thursday 6th November.
Good luck!

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