While I was visiting my parents in Rochester, T invited us over for Sunday brunch on the cozy back patio (S was away hiking). As usual, T provided a delicious spread: blueberry cake, salmon quiche (have to get that recipe!), and this incredible kholodnyk. It’s a traditional Russian/Ukrainian/Polish cold buttermilk and beet soup — it made a delicious first brunch course on a warm morning. I immediately asked T for the recipe, which she said came from epicurious and was really easy. She was right — this takes 10-15 minutes to whisk together and makes a vibrant, healthy summer soup. It works well as a brunch accompaniment, as we enjoyed it, or as an appetizer before dinner. It received full marks from F when I made it back in London. I went heavy on the beets and forgot radishes — it still tasted great. Feel free to take this recipe as a base and modify ingredients and amounts for a chunkier or thinner soup.
Do you have a favorite cold summer soup? Share it in a comment below!
**updated 25 Jan 2015 — now includes beet cream cheese frosting!**
Yes, I’m behind on the Valentine’s Day dessert bandwagon. But F and I are neutral on the holiday — why do you have to wait for a special day to celebrate each other and those you love? So I didn’t actually make this cake because it was Valentine’s weekend. But Sarah had given me extra beets that she wasn’t going to use before traveling, which made this a great opportunity to try her recipe for chocolate beet cake (originally from BBC Good Food). Plus, S & I were coming for dinner, and it’s always better to have more people to help devour dangerously delicious baked goods! You might be thinking, “Beets? In cake?” I was skeptical, too, but Sarah assured me that you don’t taste the beets at all, and she was right. They add sweetness and keep the cake moist (and help you pretend it’s sort of healthy). S & I seemed to enjoy it, and F gave it an “amazing!” rating.
This cake is so chocolatey and delicious. I used a little less sugar than Sarah’s recipe called for and it didn’t seem to make a difference. I’d recommend erring towards the shorter cooking time, as the cake may get dry if you leave it in for the full time. The pink cream cheese frosting, from Joy the Baker, is completely optional but if you choose to go for it you won’t be disappointed.
Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting(cake adapted from Sarah & frosting adapted from Joy the Baker; serves 7-9)
185-200g beet(root) (~3 small beets), cooked, peeled, & roughly chopped
200g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
240g golden caster sugar (I’m sure granulated sugar would work just as well)
2 tsp vanilla extract
200ml sunflower oil
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
115g (1/2 cup or 4oz) unsalted butter, softened
115g (1/2 cup or 4oz) cream cheese, softened
2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted/whisked
2 tbsp cooked beets, finely grated & mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
.5-1 tsp milk (more for thinner consistency)
small squeeze of fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 170C (fan).
Put the beets in a food processor and blend until they’re finely chopped.
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
Add the chopped beets, eggs, and vanilla to the dry ingredients and whisk to break up the eggs. Pour in the sunflower oil and stir vigorously until fully mixed. The batter will be thick and fudgy.
Stir the chopped chocolate into the batter, then pour everything into a loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes (OR use a round cake pan and bake 40-50 minutes) — you make need to cover the cake with foil partway through baking if it gets too dark on top. (If the cake seems underdone when you take it out, bear in mind that it will set as it cools.)
While the cake is cooling, make frosting (optional): put cream cheese in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 30 seconds or until soft and smooth. Add the butter and beat for 30 seconds or until well combined. Add the beets and beat for another few seconds. Pour in the powdered sugar, vanilla, milk, lemon juice, and salt, then beat on medium until the frosting is smooth. Let the frosting chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before frosting the cake.