Anniversary Beet Poke Cake

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Five years ago today, Alex and I walked to the Cook County courthouse in drizzle and wind and then sat nervously in a dimly lit room with my mom and his dad and several other nervous couples, waiting for a judge with funny hair to pronounce us husband and wife. Yay! Five years seems so long ago, but it’s like no time has passed at all. One of the coolest things I can say about our marriage is that, though we are very different people than we were five years ago, we still have the same relationship. We are still sometimes stubborn and moody and sometimes yelling, but mostly we are still goofy, and kissy, and almost all the time laughing. Somehow we change and grow as people, but we like each other the same. Maybe even more! It makes me really smiley and warm inside to think about. Are you properly mushed-out yet? Good, because I’m getting a lump in my throat, because I’m a big baby.

Let’s talk about cake before I lose it!

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In the tradition of making cakes to celebrate weddings, I’m making one today to celebrate my own! First I’ll say that I did not necessarily intend to write a post about this cake. I fully planned on making an anniversary cake, but I realize that beets in cake might not be up everyone’s alley. Alex and I, though, are big beet fans. Years upon years ago, I was at a friend’s birthday dinner and he pointed out to me two of his friends who were dating and divvying up beets during dinner and said, “They love beets. Those two love beets more than any other couple I know.” The absurdity of that observation made me laugh hysterically at the time and I think about it every now and then. Mostly I think of it when Alex and I are ravenously eating beets, which we do. Often. We just love them! I imagine, now, if we were at a friend’s birthday dinner, that friend would lean over to someone and say, “Those two love beets more than any other couple I know.”

So, I’ve had the notion to make a beet cake for months. Seeing lots of recipes for chocolate beet cakes, I started turning over the idea of somehow making a vanilla beet cake. Earlier this year, I was making poke cake for a party and realized how pretty a vanilla cake would look with dark red swirls throughout. The idea for this beet poke cake was born.

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Anniversary Beet Poke Cake
Makes a 2 6×2 in. round cakes. If you want to make two 9 in. cakes, follow this recipe here.

Cake ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk (room temperature)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
3 large egg whites (room temperature)
7 tbsp unsalted butter (room temperature, cubed)

Beet gelatin ingredients:
1/2 cup beet juice (I used Boitta brand)
1/2 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 packets of gelatin

Beet cake instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare two 6 x 2 in. cake pans by lining with parchment paper, spraying with cooking spray, and dusting with flour.

In a large measuring cup, combine the milk, egg whites, and both extracts. Beat together until well combined.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and beat on slow-to-medium speed until the mixture resembles very small pebbles.

Add half of the milk mixture to the bowl and continue to beat for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add in the remaining milk mixture on medium speed and beat until fully combined, less than a minute. Do not overmix.

Split the mixture between the two cake pans. Smooth the top of the batter flat.

Cook for 30-35 minutes. Halfway through cooking, switch the places of the pans in the oven. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing them from the pan and allowing them to cool completely on a cooling rack. Don’t forget to remove the parchment paper!

Allow the cakes to cool completely, at least 2 hours.

After cooling, place both cakes side by side on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Poke holes all over the cake with a large fork.

Pour half of the beet juice into a large bowl, and pour the gelatin over the top to soften, for 5 minutes. In a saucepan, combine 1/2 of the beet juice, the water, and the sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved and begins to boil. Remove from heat an pour the hot mixture over the softened gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved.

While the gelatin mixture is still very warm, spoon over the top, being sure to fill all of the fork holes.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Frost as desired.

Frosting ingredients:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp beet juice, optional

Frosting instructions:
Beat the whipping cream, slowly adding in the powdered sugar until it forms stiff peaks.

Whip in the beet juice for color.

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My cake frosting skills need a little work, yes. But even though it’s a little shaggy, but I am damn proud of this cake! Even Alex, who is usually pretty lukewarm on cake, gobbled up his serving. It tastes like beets, but in the best way! I made a tiny cake, but this could easily be made into two 9 inch cakes, or a sheet cake. Bring it to a party!

And happy anniversary to my sweet husband. The one who not only inspires me, but encourages me, to make weirdo cakes. And also allows me to be a weirdo in general. I love you, dude!

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