Technically it may still be summer, but when I was looking outside my kitchen window this morning, there were absolutely no signs indicating that these months are supposed to be the hottest of the year. All I could see were grey clouds, and although such droopy whether would usually make me feel rather depressed, this morning I couldn’t help but feel a sense of excitement about the prospect of cooler weather.
Sipping hot chocolate in front of the fireplace, going for a walk in the woods with your favourite scarf tied on tight, listening to Michael Bublé whilst taking a long, hot bath,… Suddenly I couldn’t wait for autumn to arrive!
So inspired by this autumn vibe, I decided to start the fall a little bit early this year and conjured up something truly wonderful: a red wine and beetroot cake with an orange and cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Or as I like to call it: the Glühwein cake.
For those of you who don’t own a copy of “Famous Alcoholic Beverages for Dummies”, Glühwein is a mulled wine and is incredibly popular in Germany (where it originated), other German- speaking countries and with us Belgians ( because we know a good drink when we see one!). It is a heavenly aromatic warm red wine, spiced with cinnamon, cloves, star anise and orange and his this remarkable capacity to make you forget all your troubles (and manners, sometimes) and to fill you with warmth and joy. It’s like an electric blanket… but with alcohol. It’s awesome!
So all these flavours inspired me to make this cake. Cinnamon, red wine and mixed spice went into the cake batter, and orange and cinnamon were blended in with the honeyed cream cheese frosting… Sigh. I really do have very good ideas from time to time.
A second key ingredients in this cake is beetroot. You can’t bake an autumn-inspired cake without using any root vegetables. You just can’t. That would be sacrilege. Carrots, parsnips, even turnips! When the weather gets cold, you simply have to use them in a cake! It’s a rule.
I love the earthy sweetness of the beetroot and its majestic red colour so I made the humble beetroot my root vegetable of choice this time. The red beetroot is a match made in heaven with the red wine!
Although the raw batter looked burgundy red, the cooked cake more resembled a chocolate cake, rather than a deep red velvet cake. I didn’t mind. I’d much rather prefer a cake that looks homemade than something that seems to have come straight out of a chemistry lab. If you want to enhance the redness of the cake, you could add food colouring but, like I said, I really don’t think it would do this cake justice.
PS: You may have noticed that this is my second beetroot recipe in a row. Now before you start assuming that I may have some sort of beetroot addiction: I don’t. I just had a lot of beetroot lying around in my kitchen and I didn’t want anything to go to waste! How ecologically sound of me!
Red wine and beetroot cake with a cinnamon and orange cream cheese frosting
For the cake:
• 2 eggs
• 80gr butter
• 250gr cooked beetroot
• 60ml red wine
• 180gr light brown sugar
• 170gr plain flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp mixed spice
• ¼ tsp salt
For the frosting
• 100gr cream cheese
• 1 tbsp honey
• Zest of half an orange
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
2. Puree the cooked beetroot in a blender together with the red wine until you get a smooth paste.
3. Mix together the red wine and beetroot puree with the eggs, sugar and butter until combined. (At this stage the mixture will look slightly curdled, don’t worry, it will all work out in the end 😉 )
4. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix well.
5. Pour the batter into a prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes.
6. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
7. For the frosting, whisk together all the ingredients and spoon the frosting onto the cake. Spread out evenly with a palette knife.