and the beet goes on — autumn spice beet cake

by hungryrabbit on September 23, 2011

Autumn Spice Beet Cake with Vanilla Honey Cream

Fall has officially arrived. Autumn brings the allure of comfortable weather, and the change of colors signaling the coming harvest. In NYC, another sure sign of this time is the appearance at the Farmer’s Market where the last hurrah of lettuces, peaches, corn, and tomatoes is underway. The debut of butternut and delicata squashes marks the changeover from a palette of vibrant grass green, peach, and red to the earthier tones of blue-green, orange, and nut brown.

There’s a humble vegetable in the market that doesn’t show its true nature until you take it home for a date. At the market, the beets are stacked in unassuming mounds, their true beauty doesn’t reveal itself until you undress the ruby jewels. Whether raw or cooked, their range of colors is magnificent when peeled. (Like any good date, they will leave an impression—in this case, it may be a stain on your finger tips.)

Before you’re overwhelmed by pumpkin and squashes, try these individual Autumn Spice Beet Cakes, they’re the perfect transition from late summer to fall. Most desserts that use beets marry them to chocolate. (Beets increase the moisture of the final product.) By contrast, I wanted to bring out their vibrant colors and allow them to be the star. Fall spices take the supporting role, and a dollop of vanilla honey cream reinforces the natural sweetness.

Autumn Spice Beet Cake with Vanilla Honey Cream

yield: 6 servings


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or honey
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup (6 ounces) light brown sugar, packed
1-1/4 cups peeled and finely grated red beets

1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1. Set oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350℉. Lightly coat 6 8-oz ramekins with butter and set them on baking sheet.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl, set aside. In medium size bowl, mix molasses, eggs, buttermilk, oil and sugar. Pour wet mixture to dry mixture and whisk to combine. Fold in beets until fully incorporated.

3. Divide batter among the ramekins and bake until cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-22 minutes.

4. While cake is baking, combine sour cream, honey and vanilla in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Serve warm cakes with a dollop of Vanilla Honey Cream.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Bunkycooks September 23, 2011 at 8:03 am

I just had a chocolate beet cake this week! It was very good. I love roasted beets, but now I have a new use for one of my favorites. :)

Jessica / Green Skies and Sugar Trips September 23, 2011 at 8:05 am

You seriously write food porn, but in a Grace Kelly kind of way. Absolutely eloquent and graceful, yet enticing and alluring; making us all extremely excited for fall and all the deliciousness it has to offer. This sounds truly scrumptious!

Jamie September 23, 2011 at 8:38 am

Seriously? Wow! I love the flavors you blend together with the beets: the spices and the pomegranata molasses? Oh my! I would love to try these! And love the way you serve them individually. Another fab dessert – and… the beet goes on? ha ha ha you are so cute! xo

SMITH BITES September 23, 2011 at 9:37 am

look. you had me at beet . . . really, you did . . . but honey, adding pomegranate molasses? completely and utterly sold . . . sigh . . .

foodwanderings September 23, 2011 at 9:49 am

Perfect inauguration of this recipe on the first day of Fall Ken. I always thought beets are so versatile but one thing leads to another and I fail to experiment with the possibilities. I am happy you did. This is an elegant way of serving this (quoting you) humble vegetable.

Lora ~ cakeduchess September 23, 2011 at 10:48 am

The beet of my heart is what is going on. Holy cow! You are dreamy and your sweets are amazing. xxoo

Lori {Lemons and Lavender} September 23, 2011 at 11:32 am

I’ve always felt beets were dark and sultry and you’ve brought that forward very well with this post (and recipe). The addition of pomegranate molasses and spice immediately reminds me of belly dancers in the Kashbah. Well done!

Lisa (This Little Piggy) September 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm

You write so well – I wish I was half as eloquent as you!
They are very elegant indeedy. I’ve been going a bit beet mad myself – chocolate beet cake, roasted beets for salads. I am very uninspired by the onslaught of squash. Your next task to tempt me with squash.

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction September 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Oh my goodness!! Love this beet cake… It’s like spice cake meets red velvet with no artificial colors. I have some beets from our CSA in the fridge, and I think I’ll have to give this a try. :)

Brian @ A Thought For Food September 23, 2011 at 10:49 pm

I’m in love!!! These look heavenly!

Maria September 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm

These look fabulous Ken! I’m looking forward to trying your recipe :-)

Barbara | Creative Culinary September 24, 2011 at 6:06 pm

These are beautiful Ken and now that I have found a nearby market with pomegranate molasses I no longer have to just with I could. Now I need some beets. And some gloves. I’ve heard beet stories!

Beautiful. Totally.

Móna Wise September 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I so need a bottle of pomegranate molasses. We have a lot of Beets here and I would love to put them to good use! Now, where to find the molasses…..

Julia September 25, 2011 at 8:45 am

Oh wow, beautiful!!!!! I need to get myself to the farmer’s market to get some beets!

Jenn September 25, 2011 at 11:09 am

An absolutely beautiful cake, Ken!

Sunchowder - Wendy Read September 25, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I am red all over :)

Margaret September 26, 2011 at 10:29 am

The title is so cute and this spice beet cake looks amazing. I love all the warm spices that are in this cake. Another lovely dessert!

MikeVFMK September 26, 2011 at 11:00 am

Ken, these cakes are beautiful! And beet cakes are under appreciated,for sure. Love fall and the market and all the wonders that come with it this time of year.Lovely post!

arthi September 26, 2011 at 11:02 am

Oh i make the choc-beet one but gotto try this…love the color 😉 & nice clicks

argone September 27, 2011 at 4:13 am

Great recipe ! do you use raw or cooked beets ? They have both in the stores (where I live in Europe) thank you !

hungryrabbit September 27, 2011 at 10:48 am

Hi Argone, thanks for visiting my blog. The recipe calls for raw beets.

Russell van Kraayenburg October 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm

I love the colors in this dish. The dark pop of red against the clean bright white. So pretty. All the flavors sound yummy too.

Nancy October 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Fantastic! Loving your blog. Have you checked out the website? It’s headed up by Amanda Hesser (NYTimes food writer) and Merrill Stubbs. You would be a welcome addition!

Meeta October 19, 2011 at 5:02 am

A wonderful unique blend of flavors here Ken and beautiful colors. Unfortunately I have never found Pom. molasses here so usually substitute it with other things. Like you said beets make an awesome alternative for cakes and co.

Mollie Frances February 14, 2012 at 9:47 am

Hi there,

LOVE your blog! I linked to your recipe from my post for Baby Beet Cakes. Yours was one of the few I could find that didn’t use chocolate, so I was intrigued!

They are gluten free, grain free and sugar free made with almond flour and honey.


Jeanie October 3, 2013 at 4:30 pm

This looks lovely! Could this be made in a regular cake pan or 8×8?

hungryrabbit October 3, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Hi Jeanie, I believe you can, keep an eye on the bake time. – Ken

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