For nearly a dozen years, a full vegetable farm share from Roxbury Farm in Kinderhook (Columbia County), New York has meant 24 weeks of biodynamic veggies during the season, running from early June to mid November. Next year, in 2019, the full vegetable share at a cost of $630.00 means for approximately $25.00 each week, the bounty from a local, small farm will again be at the center of a healthy diet.
In addition, the option of getting veggies from the farm until February (a winter share) was always taken too because three boxes of 30 pounds of organic root and storage crops including potatoes, sweet potatoes, celeriac, watermelon radish, carrots, onions, parsnips, cabbage, rutabaga, winter squash and, of course, beets was an offer too good to resist. In 2019, the cost will be $130.00 or a little more than a dollar per pound for organic veggies, to be delivered the first week of December, January, and February. A great deal.
But what to do with all those beets, which make up a substantial part of the winter boxes of veggies? I was familiar with using applesauce as a sweetener, instead of sugar, in baked goods and a fellow farm share member mentioned that mashed cooked beets could be used like applesauce to sweeten up baked goods instead of sugar or some other sweetener. Hmmm. Chocolate cake made with mashed red beets as the sweetener, she said, was a possibility.
What about apple cakelets? A couple months ago, perusing the King Arthur Flour website, the Nordic Ware Apple Cakelet Pan (Made in America, Family Owned) caught my eye. How nifty to bake a little cakes in the shape of a small apple, by using this magical pan, fourteen halves or seven 3-D cakes at one swoop!
Unused so far, wouldn’t this be a fine time to try out the pan and substitute mashed beets for the 1/2 cup brown sugar called for in the recipe, included with the pan for Apple Cakelets. Apples, interestingly, were not a specified ingredient in the recipe, only the 1/2 cup of applesauce. And for some reason, my brain saw “applesauce” and I thought “use up some mashed red beets too.”
Five tablespoons of butter meant the applesauce was not a substitute for “fat” or “oil” but was for the apple flavor. Red beets would serve to add sweetness and also to add color at this green and red time of year, and aren’t apples RED? With a dozen roasted beets chilling in the fridge, it was time to give it a whirl or, more exactly, mash and use up some of those beets from my farm share.
1 and 1/2 cup Morgan Mills organic sweet brown rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup mashed red beets
1/3 cup melted butter (2.5 ounces or 5 tablespoons)
1/2 cup applesauce
3/8 cup water
dash ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Prepare pan with oil. (I rubbed organic sunflower seed oil into the apple shaped compartments.)
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. I used a microplane to grind a nutmeg and allspice. (Allspice earned its name because it has a flavor like that of several spices combined and as noted by Spiceography, allspice tastes like a mixture of nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and black pepper and boasts more health benefits than cloves.)
The recipe which came with the pan specified “gluten-free” flour. Although, I typically use whole grains locally grown and gluten free is not a guiding light, brown rice flour is rich and nutty tasting and is useful for making cakes, muffins and breads according to the National Co+Op Grocers’ All About Flour brochure on Flour. (The brochures are available at my hometown food co-op, Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, NY.) I considered using oat flour, which is also gluten free, but decided to use the organic sweet brown rice flour available at the Honest Weight.
In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter and the mashed beets and continuing stirring while adding the applesauce, egg, and water.
Slowly add flour mixture until all ingredients are combined.
Pour the batter evenly into the apple shaped compartments but not to the brim to avoid overflowing. (I had a small amount of batter left to bake up one muffin in a separate pan.)
Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean.
Let cakelets cool for 10 minutes and unmold.
(Frank W. Barrie, 12/24/18)