While not everyone fancies a beet (I was once on a beet diet - not for losing weight but to improve my health a little) because it has a funny, earthy (like soil to put it bluntly...) taste, I thought it's worth a try. I just need to figure out how to tone down the taste of the beet so it doesn't overpower the other ingredients and become unpalatable (as am sure just the idea of having beet in cake would turn off some!). So I thought adding some citrus flavors would help. I have read some recipes that use lemons with sugar beet - it helps temper the flavor of the beet without necessarily eliminating it. I want a slight taste of the beet - just that - slight but with some hint of sweet-tangy and juicy goodness coming from the citrus fruits as well. Of course, talking about tangy flavors, I added fresh cranberries to the mix to help improve the taste too! Every bite with the cranberries truly make it divine.
Also, as you will notice I did not add any butter or oil in making it (perhaps that's the reason why it's denser than your usual cake/bread) but with the sour cream/yogurt and the beet themselves (not to mention the few tablespoons of citrus juice) providing enough moisture to the loaf - I felt it was unnecessary to add additional fat. After I have baked and tasted the loaf - I can confirm that additional oil or butter was not essential. The loaf came out moist and quite flavorful, too.
Just some additional observation - for my first attempt - I used a large beet - about 1 cup or so of grated beet (you should have seen my hands after grating them!) and I must say, if you are not a beet lover you may want to use a smaller beet....and that's what I'd do for the next time - am pretty sure, I'll still achieve the red color (or perhaps pink) but without the strong beet taste.
I added some Lemon Glaze to drizzle on top - don't omit this - it makes the loaf taste even better. I already like it without it - but the lemon frosting just brought an extra dimension or another level to the taste. Believe me, my kids finished the loaf in no time - they weren't bothered by the beet taste - I think the orange (which I used for this) and lemon (for frosting) masked the beet taste so well, too.
Finally, I don't know if I should call this a Cake or a Bread. It is in a loaf form for sure - and I have made Loaf cakes before (like my Portuguese Orange Cake - but that one has a true cake texture). This Loaf albeit moist is denser and a little heavier than a regular cake so perhaps it's more of a bread. You be the judge. I will just call it a Christmas Loaf - owing to its color and because I made it during the holidays, deal?
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup light sour cream or plain yogurt
1 small uncooked red beet, peeled then finely grated*
finely grated zest and juice (roughly 1/4 cup) of 1 small orange or the zest of 1 lemon but only 1/2 of its juice (it being more tart in taste unless you want to use it all up)
1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped*
*You may wish to use some food preparation gloves (like vinyl) when peeling and grating the beet unless you don't mind having "blood red" hands.
*My husband suggested that for next time, I add another 1/4-1/3 cup of cranberries 'cause for him it needed more. He wanted to see more speckles of cranberries and wanted more of their tartness to shine. I will surely try this next time.
For the Lemon-Glaze*
1 cup, confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
2-3 Tbsp juice of lemon (depending on the tartness and thickness of the glaze that
*My hubby (my number 1 taster!) thinks the lemon-glaze really livened up the taste of the loaf so don't omit this. For me, I don't mind not having a glaze but I agree that it's so much better with it. So I suggest, don't omit it, it's so easy to whip it up anyway! :-)
Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan (preferably a light-colored one) with a cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices) ingredients. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs with the sour cream or yogurt just until combined. On low speed, add the grated beet and zest and juice of either the lemon or orange (whichever you prefer). Mix just until combined.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix well. Fold in the chopped cranberries.
Spoon or pour (whatever...) the mixture to the prepared loaf pan. Bake for about 60-65 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. If after 45-50 minutes and the top is browning a bit, just cover it loosely with a foil and then continue to bake until it's fully cooked.
Let it cool fully in the pan before you turn it out onto a wire rack or before wrapping it for storing. I took it out of the pan after it has fully cooled down (that ensures that it will not break apart).
It can be made up to three days ahead - just wrap it - cling wrap or parchment paper and then store in an airtight container. As with any bread if you leave it out, it will dry out so store it properly.
For the Lemon-Glaze
Place the powdered sugar and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Beat until it reaches a smooth and pourable consistency. Easy!
Once the loaf has cooled down or let's say you were patient like me and waited till the next day - then make the glaze and drizzle all over the loaf. Yes, use the entire glaze on the loaf.
Enjoy with a cup of fruity tea.
This recipe is featured at Foodie Friends Friday.
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