Long, slender seedless cucumbers have been making an appearance in the large bushel basket of fresh vegetables and flowers I’ve been picking up every Wednesday from one of my favorite local growers. Also known as English or burpless cucumbers, they are crisp and refreshing. I like to cut them into snack-sized sticks and store them in the refrigerator. Their chilled juiciness is thirst-quenching on a hot day.
I’ve cut the firm cucumbers into tiny chunks and stirred them into creamy dip. My favorite way to prepare these generously-sized cukes is Hungarian-style, sliced and stirred into a sweet-tart sour cream sauce.
Now, there is another way to eat cucumbers. Peeled, shredded and stirred into cake batter. I discovered the recipe in my mom’s file, a newspaper clipping taped to an index card.
The original chocolate cake recipe calls for buttermilk. I had none in the refrigerator, but did have just enough vanilla yogurt to use in its place. I also had a few small, raw beets to use up, so I peeled them, put them through the grating blade on my food processor and stirred them into the batter.
The cake is moist with a strange flavor combination of sweetness and earthiness balanced with unsweetened chocolate. Semisweet chocolate morsels, melted and combined with sour cream, is the perfect topping for this Farm Basket Cake. Rather than serving the cake as is, whip up some heavy cream with sugar and vanilla to dollop over the top and sprinkle some fresh raspberries on the plate.
Next time I’m going to mince up some fresh chocolate mint from my garden to add to the cake batter. And, I might grate up some carrots to use rather than beets.
Farm Basket Chocolate Cake with Sweet Vanilla Cream is a grand way to eat your cukes and beets.
Farm Basket Chocolate Cake
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup yogurt (I used Wallaby Organic Vanilla low-fat yogurt)
- 2 cups peeled, grated seedless cucumber
- 1/2 cup peeled, grated red beets
- Fresh raspberries and Sweet Vanilla Cream (recipe below), for serving
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9- x 13-inch pan. Set aside.
Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, use an electric hand-mixer to cream butter, oil and sugar. At low speed, beat in the eggs, vanilla and yogurt until mixture is smooth and creamy. Gradually add sifted dry ingredients to the batter in the mixing bowl, blending on low speed until all dry ingredients have disappeared into the batter. Stir in the grated cucumbers and beets.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on metal rack. When cake is completely cool, prepare frosting and spread over top of cake.
To prepare frosting, melt chocolate chips in small heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add sour cream and stir until well blended. Spread over cake.
Sweet Vanilla Cream
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Chill a non-reactive 2-quart mixing bowl and beaters for a handheld mixer in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
Add the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla to the chilled bowl. Beat at low speed for 30 seconds or until small bubbles form. Beat at medium speed for 30 seconds or until the beaters leave a trail in the thickening cream. Beat at high speed for 30 seconds until soft peaks form and the cream is thick and nearly doubled in volume. This is where I stop — a thick, velvety cream to serve with Farm Basket Chocolate Cake. If you like, continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Makes 4 cups.