We recently returned from a week away at the beach to delightful drizzling rain. We were so happy that rain had been the opening and closing curtain to our holiday, because last year we had torrential rain the whole week we were away.
The rain seems to have heralded a change in the season. Ever since we arrived home it has started to cool down. Such a relief from the ghastly 40 degree days we experienced in January. It has brought with it an enjoyment of the garden again and a desire to turn on the oven and cook.
As the weather cooled I reached for one of my favourite books, ‘A Story of Seven Summers’ by Hilary Burden, to cook Isis’s beetroot chocolate cake. But first I had to track down which member of our book club had borrowed my copy. On sending my first SMS I found it. My neighbour Nicola had it and it was soon back on my book shelf.
I first read an excerpt from Hilary’s book in Country Style magazine and later tracked down the full book, and later recommended it for our book club. Hilary and I both write for Country Style as freelancers. We exchange notes from time to time. I recognised Hilary’s name when she ordered some bits and pieces from our store and enjoyed picturing them in her Nun’s House.
Gryf and I made Isis’s beetroot chocolate cake for the boys to take to school for morning tea. I enjoy cooking the beetroot in boiling water for about 10 minutes and after the beetroot has cooled slightly, effortlessly sliding the skins away. If your hands are stained, try rubbing them in lemon juice to remove the beetroot.
Isis’s beetroot chocolate cake (from ‘A Story of Seven Summers’ by Hilary Burden)
Ingredients: 75 g cocoa powder, 180 g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 250 g caster sugar, 250 g cooked beetroot, 3 large eggs, 200 ml vegetable oil, 1 tsp vanilla extract, icing sugar to dust.
Method: Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius and lightly butter a 20 cm round cake tin. Sift the cocoa, flour and baking powder in a bowl. Mix in the sugar. Blend the cooked beetroot in a food processor. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the oil and vanilla. Process until smooth. make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the wet mixture and lightly mix. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cover loosely with foil if the cake starts to brown at 30 minutes (Hilary says, “Expect the top to crack”.) Leave for 15 minutes before removing from the tin, then place on a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar to serve. I also like a dollop of our local Peel Valley Milk double cream and a few seasonal berries (strawberries, blackberries or blueberries).