Beetroot Cake with Mascarpone and Raspberries (gluten-free and absolutely amazing)

Beetroot Cake with Mascarpone and Raspberries_2My obsession with Lily Vanilli’s latest book – Sweet Tooth – seems set to continue (you can explore the trail backwards from here), following my latest attempt at one of her fabulous baked creations.

Describing herself as a modern artisan baker, her designs are exciting, innovative and quite simply mouth-watering. And making them is a complete pleasure. Although she admits that some of the recipes and techniques can be quite involved, most aren’t actually complicated. All you need to do is follow the rules – which she lays out clearly and plainly – and everything should work out just fine.

Beetroot Cake with Mascarpone and Raspberries_1

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. This is, after all, a cake that’s made largely from beetroot (beets) and polenta (a ground cornmeal that’s similar – I believe – to grits), and I was curious to see how the ingredients were going to physically mix together, as well as how the baking process would work, and what it would actually taste like.

It’s great when there’s time to experiment like this – testing the versatility of ingredients, as well as learning something new, expanding my understanding and knowledge of baking. The mixture itself was very (very) wet. And the cocktail stick never did come out completely clean, even with an extra 15 minutes cooking time. But that didn’t seem to matter. This was no exception to her other recipes. It really was fun to make, and the result was definitely worth any effort and / or uncertainty.

Beetroot Cake with Mascarpone and Raspberries_4

Basically, this cake is different. I’ve never made – or tasted – anything quite like it before. (If you’ve ever had beetroot and chocolate cake, then it’s really nothing like that). Lily Vanilli calls it a cake for grown-ups… and I totally agree. But it really is absolutely delicious. It’s not quite savoury. But it’s not exactly sweet either (and it’s definitely not sugary, which immediately means that it’s more to my liking than many cakes). It also has an interesting texture – very slightly coarse – and although it’s surprisingly light, it remains incredibly moist. For me, the mascarpone topping is (quite literally) the icing on the cake. This beautiful, soft, creamy Italian cheese really is the perfect accompaniment for this unusual, delightful creation, and although you can mix it with some icing sugar and vanilla before spreading (if you really want to), I think it’s a shame to sweeten it in that way.

The colour – of course – is extraordinary. It took a few days for us to eat the entire cake (which we stored in an airtight container in the fridge), and over that time the mascarpone topping got pinker and pinker until it was almost magenta in colour. Beautiful!

Beetroot Cake with Mascarpone and Raspberries_5

Recipe: Beetroot Cake with Mascarpone and Raspberries


500g raw beetroots, peeled and finely grated
This really needs to be done with a food processor with a fine grating attachment (otherwise it’s really, really messy)
120ml olive oil
60ml freshly squeezed smooth orange juice
80g root ginger, peeled and finely grated
150g raisins
6 tbsp runny honey
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
360g (instant) polenta
Although polenta is similar to grits, I’m not sure a substitution would work here. I think it would probably depend on the texture, which should probably be fairly finely-ground
4 eggs, separated
50g light brown sugar
To decorate:
Raspberries (or other fresh fruit)
400g mascarpone
A dash of beetroot juice to colour
Handful of chives, chopped
Serves 8-10


Line two 18cm round cake tins.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / gas mark 6.

Combine the beetroot, oil, juice, ginger, raisins, honey, vanilla, lemon zest and spices in a bowl. Put the baking powder in a separate bowl and stir to combine.

Beat the egg yolks with the brown sugar until creamy and increased in volume – about 4 minutes. Stir into the beetroot mix.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir the polenta evenly into the beetroot mix, then fold in the egg whites.

Divide the mixture between the two prepared cake tins and level out to the edges. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Stir the beetroot juice into the mascarpone, and spread over the cake rounds. Add the raspberries, sandwich together and sprinkle with the chopped chives.

About Georgina

Originally from the South of England, I've also had homes in Australia (Canberra) and the US (Los Angeles). I've been based in the UK city of Sheffield for a couple of years now. My blog is about adventures with food - markets, ingredients, books, recipes, places I've eaten and other related experiences. It focuses on stories from Sheffield, South Yorkshire and nearby Derbyshire, as well as places farther afield.
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29 Responses to Beetroot Cake with Mascarpone and Raspberries (gluten-free and absolutely amazing)

  1. Liz says:

    I can see that it tastes delicious, just by looking. what a great recipe! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. That looks really interesting – I assumed it was glace cherries before I read the caption! You’re right, it really doesn’t look anything like any other beetroot cake I’ve seen!

  3. I’ve never even heard of beetroot cake before. This looks wonderful.

    • Georgina says:

      Thank you. There has been quite a trend of beetroot and chocolate cake in recent years, but I’ve certainly not heard of anything quite like this before.

  4. This beet root cake looks amazing. Happy is is gluten free. Love that close up shot! Take Care, BAM

  5. G’day! Your cake is GORGEOUS, TRUE!
    I love the close up shot too and might have to put this on my list to do!
    What’s On The List

  6. thehungrymum says:

    This looks *amazing*. And mascarpone – yum.

  7. Iain says:

    That looks like one delicious cake. I bet it’s very moist too, given the beetroot. I’ve just started growing beetroots in my garden with the intention to make some chocolate cakes with the results. I’ll be giving your recipe a go as well. I see the Mascarpone again 🙂

    • Georgina says:

      I know! Perhaps I should rename this blog ‘The Mascarpone Diaries’!?
      It’s great that you’re growing your own beetroot – I can’t wait to hear how you get on with that.
      And I’d love to know if you make this cake in the future…

  8. Sophie33 says:

    Ooh Georgina! what a fabulously builed beetroot cake, so layered out beautifully! I love, love beets! MMMMMMM! Waw, it looks even amazing & stunning too! MMMMMMMMMMMM!

  9. Victoria says:

    This looks rich, moist, hearty…and spectacular!

  10. Lilly Sue says:

    You don’t even need to mention this is amazing- it looks amazing!! Love this recipe! I am going to have to bookmark.

  11. gotasté says:

    I have been eating a lot of beetroot recently and would love to try this marvelous recipe 🙂

  12. Jayne says:

    I like this idea, it sounds amazing! It looks wonderful too! Does it taste really “beety”?

    • Georgina says:

      Thanks! It’s actually quite difficult to describe how it tasted, but no, it doesn’t taste strongly of beets. I guess it’s a bit like the carrots in carrot cake in that way. I was so intrigued when I saw the recipe that I just had to give it a go!

  13. Pingback: Two interesting cakes but no prizes | Grumpytyke

  14. Bernice says:

    This looks awesome and is so perfect!

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