Sunday, 2 December 2012

Winter Thoughts (and a beetroot chocolate cake!)

Leaves undone
It's official. Winter is truly, deeply and darkly upon us. The darkness is winning over the light, and the light - when it comes - is filtered only through a thick blanket of cloudy grey and eerie frosty mists that may or may not lift on any given day. But the sun is always there - we see it every now and then - strong and giving and golden and welcome. A reminder of what has been and what will come again. It's just that the other side of the world is feeling it's loving more. For some months now the tilt of the Earth and the seasonal change in day length will halt further growth and we must wait until spring time to get digging in the garden. The beech trees that had clung to last summer's leaves are now delivered into stark winter nakedness. How can that feel? Only the ivy, the holly and the yew hang on to their glossy dark green leaves in defiance of winter. 

I spent the last week in Austria where winter has an edge on our dark and damp Irish version. In Austria the snow was just about to land. The Austrian alps were already covered but lower hills and ski slopes waited keenly for the promise of their winter white blanket. The experience of winter there is more white and bright than grey and damp. As I write here at the kitchen table in Holly Cottage, my eyes are drawn to the cold grey rain outside our sheltering windows that has been falling through the night. And I draw the blanket closer about me as if to shield me from its cold creep, and keep my own inner fire bright, un-dampened, protected.

Holly guarding the beetroot
It's not easy, this kind of winter. But it's what we have been given. It stops us in our tracks. It demands slow down. Stop digging. Think about when and where you need to drive. Rest. Time for looking outwards is reduced to daily walks on frosty paths or muddy fields. Or a run in the dark of an early morning. Doors are only opened for necessary seconds now, saving precious warmth from its escape. Time for looking inwards now. Time for taking the ashes out daily. Time to tend the fire so that it will burn through the short days and cold nights. All through this winter, and this seasonal night. 

But it's not all dark and brooding ;) More time to enjoy the gifts of summer past. This week's gift is dark and sticky, sweet and sating beetroot chocolate cake - yum! I found this recipe  in a Rachel Allen book while waiting on the homeward bound train in Heuston one cold dark evening. It is the perfect fit for the last of the beetroot that really should be a staple in every Irish garden. From relishing it, to roasting and boiling it. It's a gift in itself. 

Made for each other ;)
Take 10oz of raw beetroot and boil for about a half an hour until cooked. Then rub of the skins, chop into pieces and pop into a blender until its finely chopped, smooth. Melt 9oz of chocolate - use the best available. For example Shana Wilkie's ;) Cream 9oz of butter, add 11oz of caster sugar and blend until smooth and creamy in texture. Gradually add three beaten eggs, making sure to beat in-between adding the eggs. Then add in the beetroot and the melted chocolate. It might look a bit psychedelic - enjoy it! Then sift and fold in 3oz of flour and 2oz of cocoa. I used a 8inch round tin with a removable base - make sure to line it with parchment paper. Then into the oven at 180 degrees until firm to touch - Rachel says 30-35mins but we left it for a good 50 mins. Allow to cool in the tin before taking it out. 

Winter Path
A word of warning. This cake is absolutely divine. You may feel the need to eat it all in one sitting. But don't ;) Take a decent sized slice and have it with vanilla ice cream - we also tried it with banana and chocolate ice cream easily sourced from Lidl. What a wonderful accompaniment to those winter can only make them better.

No comments:

Post a Comment