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Beets – especially heirloom beets – are sweet, tasty and, as I discovered after much experimentation, excellent bases for cakes. This cake, which my kitchen team liked much better than carrot cake, has a slight earthiness that is offset by the dried cherries.

Just as my mother used to disguise food to try to get us to eat it, I offer this beet cake as a way to overcome aversion to the vegetable.

We used the spoon-in-and-level-off method to measure our flour and sugar.

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Servings: Serves 12.


2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1 1/4 cup vegetable oil

4 cups shredded peeled golden beets

1 cup dried cherries

Cream cheese icing

1 pound (500 grams) block-style cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 2/3 cups sifted icing sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind


Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two 9-inch-round cake tins and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift together the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and set aside.

Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add vanilla, sugars and grated lemon rind and mix well. Add oil in a slow, steady stream until well combined. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients along with beets and raisins. Divide batter between prepared cake tins.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until cake is deeply brown, has pulled away from the edges of pan and a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Run the edge of a knife around the edges to loosen and turn out on a rack to cool.

Cream the cheese and butter using an electric mixer or food processor until soft and smooth. Beat in vanilla, icing sugar and lemon rind until incorporated and smooth.

Spread icing over first layer of cake, top with second layer and ice the top and sides. Chill until ready to serve.

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