Friday, February 3, 2012

Fifty Second Fridays: Beet That!

Beets seem to worm their way onto my blog quite regularly. And for good reason! It is a hardy winter root vegetable that is both nutritious and delicious, not to mention very versatile. You can roast or boil a beet, and even eat it raw. One of my favorite things to do with the root is incorporate it into baked goods.

Now for a bit of a chemistry (and history) lesson, which I failed to supply in this beet muffin post (I know, I am so original). Because of its deep purple hue, red beets have traditionally served as a dye. Apparently, the use of beets in red velvet cake is a tall tale, but the sweet vegetable has nevertheless found its way into cakes. Yet something funny happens when you bake a beet cake; instead of retaining the bright magenta tint of the batter, the completed cake tends to be a ruddy brownish orange. The acidic beet juice reacts with the basic chemical leavening agent (baking soda or powder), causing the bright red to transform to a less impressive shade. Not to worry, because you can still have a pretty dazzling and colorful spectacle with beets in your baked goods.

Beautiful Beet Muffins
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Grand Marnier (or orange juice)

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 large beet, grated (almost two cups)
1 large carrot, grated

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp all-spice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Soak raisins in water and liqueur/orange juice for at least thirty minutes. Continue mixing ingredients while marinating.
2. Whisk together oil, vanilla, sugar, lemon juice, and apple sauce. Add grated vegetable.
3. Combine all dry ingredients, folding into the wet. Throw in the raisin, liquid, and perhaps some walnuts. Adjust spices to taste.
4. Fill muffin tins (about a dozen) and bake for 20-25 minutes at 375F. A knife or toothpick should come out clean. Allow to cool.

Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays has some spectacular goodies this week! Check them out.

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