Beetroot and Chocolate Traybake

There seems to be a lot of sweet baking recipes that have a vegetable thrown into the ingredients list. The most obvious is the classic carrot cake. I refused to eat this when I was younger because of the carrot component. Who wants to eat a cake that tastes of carrot? But once I tried a slice I realised how wrong I was and this has now become one of my favourite cakes. Now I’ve seen (and tried) cakes made using courgettes and sweet potatoes. I’ve recently seen avocado being used but have not yet tried one of these. One cake that I have been wanting to try is beetroot chocolate cake. I have seen this colourful vegetable used in brownie recipes, cupcakes recipes and more recently as a traybake. After watching an episode of ‘The Great Sport Relief Bake Off’ I knew I needed to make Mary Berry’s technical challenge so we could try it at work.

What’s the purpose of adding the vegetable? Does it cut down on the use of fat or sugar? After looking at the recipe, I don’t think it does. Sure, it makes the cake lovely and moist but I would have thought it would be a ‘healthier’ bake. But this didn’t stop me from making it, I was too curious as to what it would be like.

Mary Berry’s Beetroot and Chocolate Traybake

Making the recipe. Now, I like a recipe that uses the minimum amount of bowls and utensils. This recipe didn’t meet the criteria. It required the use of FOUR different bowls (and I didn’t even follow the full recipe). I managed to drop my tub of cocoa powder on the floor which meant that, having needing to clean the mess up, it took me almost an hour to get the cake in the oven. Now, I normally wouldn’t mind if it was a slightly complicated bake. But this wasn’t. It was just a traybake. I made the cream cheese frosting (this was very tasty) but didn’t bother with the beetroot heart decoration. I dusted with cocoa powder instead. 

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The eat. Don’t get me wrong, the traybake was nice. The beetroot had kept the texture moist and the frosting complimented the flavour well. But it didn’t have the promised richness or the wow factor you would want for a special occasion. I mean, if you wanted to have some cake without too much guilt, this would be the right choice. But if you want a rich, chocolate cake, go elsewhere. This Gimme S’more cake from Home Sweet Home in Manchester is what you need.

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Lemon Meringue Pie

I’ll admit I’m not a big lemon meringue pie fan. I don’t know why but it has never been a dessert that would tempt me or even a recipe that I’ve wanted to bake. I have ‘tried’ to make one before when I used to be on Slimming World. Obviously, this was an adapted recipe using a number of alternative ingredients. My sister remembers that it did not look like your normal lemon meringue pie and tasted very eggy. This was our first taste of a lemon meringue pie which might explain why I’ve never really been a fan. I did try a store bought frozen version a couple of years later that wasn’t too bad.

Now, Mr  W has had experience of making this dessert. He remembers making it when he was younger with his Dad. Okay, they did use a baking mix but it was a step closer than I ever got.

Baking mixes….that takes me back to being younger and spending Saturdays at my Grandma and Grandads. My sister and I would regularly make the Tom and Jerry fairy cakes, arguing over which flavour we were to make. I definitely remember there being strawberry but was there chocolate and banana? Or am I getting confused with Nesquik milkshakes? Another thing we used to have at my Grandmas. We each had our own flavour: me liking banana, my sister liked strawberry and my cousins liked chocolate. We refused to drink a different flavour so my Grandma had to make sure she had all three. We then progressed onto the Cadbury baking mixes. I remember going to my friend’s house to make the brownie version. On one occasion, we managed to burn the bottom of the brownie before the rest had chance to cook. More recently, I’ve made some of the baking mixes for my job. That was a fun day spent baking.

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But back to the bake in question, lemon meringue pie. Now, this was the baking request from my manager for his birthday. I managed to find a recipe that seemed fairly easy to follow. I did debate buying pre-made pastry but I wanted it to be as home-made as possible (more sense of achievement for me). The recipe used a pastry that was flavoured with lemon zest which gave more reason to make it myself. So, due to Mr Ws ‘expertise’ in this bake, we did it as a sort of joint bake, a Mrs and Mr W bakes. I made the pastry, Mr W rolled the pastry and blind baked. I made the lemon filling and the meringue topping. It was all going well until it came to topping the filling with the meringue. It felt like a technical challenge on the GBBO when the baker realises they have done something wrong but they have come to the point of no return. As I spooned on the meringue, I’m thinking ‘should the filling still be liquid? The recipe doesn’t mention that it should be firm. Is the meringue going to stay on top? How am I going to spread it on?’. But it was too late to do anything other than start again (which wasn’t an option as I didn’t have any more lemons). So I spread the meringue on top as best I could, put it in the oven and said a little prayer. I shared my concerns with Mr W but he wasn’t very helpful. Apparently, when he used to make them, the pie didn’t even have sides! I decided that if it was going to be a disaster, I would buy one on the way to work. Now, the timer went on the oven and all looked okay. I decided to keep the pie in the tin to make transporting it to work a little easier. I had visions of the pie falling apart, filling going all over the places with bits of meringue floating around. Thankfully, this didn’t happen. All the filling remained in the pastry (well done Mr W, no holes) and the meringue stayed on top of the pie. Once cut, however, it was an entirely different story. The filling was runny. Not what I was expecting. It was, in my eyes, a baking fail. But my manager was happy with it (managed to eat almost half of it to himself) and it did taste good (I had a tiny slice for sampling purposes).

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After all that, it’s still not a dessert/bake that will be tempting me anytime soon. Not even to try and ‘perfect’ the recipe.