Experimental Baking #2

There has been very little sewing going on here (more of that later) as in my current role as post-heart attack nutritionist I am primarily working in the kitchen!  The new regime has had an impact on my sewing in another way in that I too have lost some weight so my current wardrobe needs reviewing.

On the food front, our meals are generally looking quite green!  I’m not really following any specific recipes, although I did order a very good book entitled Eat Your Way to Lower Cholesterol which has some really good recipes.  W’s daughter also sent him a helpful book on recovering from a heart attack so we are becoming experts.

I’ve also discovered that I quite like beetroot when I’ve always thought I hated it.  I think this goes back to school lunches when the vinegar soaked beetroot was always next to the hard boiled egg in our salads.  I have a major aversion to eggs unless the white and yolk are really well combined and there was something about a rubbery egg white turned pink by the beetroot that was the final straw.

I’ve been roasting beetroot as well as using it raw and in a new baking experiment I used it in some sugar, egg and fat free brownies.  The first attempt was passable, not spit out disgusting anyway, and W thought they were OK but rather bland.  I had used raw cacao powder as chocolate and beetroot do work well in ‘normal’ cakes and he thought that some chilli in the background might help.  The second version was a great improvement and they really do look like cake.  I would point out that I don’t have a napkin embroidered with every possible vegetable but it just so happens that I do have one with what appears to be a beetroot on it.

This is the recipe I’ve arrived at so far.  I’m really not suggesting anyone tries it because they are definitely not a sweet treat and are an acquired taste but W likes them and they are a better option than biscuits or chocolate.  I just thought you might be interested to see how my mind is working!

Beetroot ‘Brownies’

  • 1¼ cups dates, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 red chilli, cut in half and seeds removed
  • 2 medium sized beetroot, cooked.  I peel, quarter and roast mine in a cast iron casserole in the oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour.  I did a whole bunch in one go and used the rest in salads
  • ⅓ cup raw cacao powder
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 medium sized apples, grated (mine were Braeburns)
  • ¼ cup fluid (I used oat milk as there was a carton open but you could use water or apple juice)

Preheat oven to 175° (fan).  Line an 8″ (or thereabouts) square cake tin with baking parchment.

Place the chopped dates in a pan with the water and chilli and bring to the boil.  Simmer for five minutes, remove and discard the chilli and allow to cool.  Once cool, place the dates in a food processor with the beetroot and cacao powder and blend until smooth.

Mix the flour with the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a mixing bowl and stir in beetroot mixture followed by the chopped walnuts and grated apple.  Mix well and add the ¼ cup of milk/juice/water.  Spoon the mixture into the the cake tin.  It is quite an alarming colour at this stage so I’ve not included a photograph.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until firm and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Cut into squares when cool.

If you are planning any sugar/fat free baking bear in mind that things don’t keep well, although I thought they tasted better the day after baking.  The first batch of these went mouldy very quickly so the second lot are in the freezer.  Interestingly, I have genuinely found that you lose the sugar craving very quickly and I have refused chocolate offered to me on more than one occasion.

Onto some sewing.  I’m a big fan of the Colette Laurel dress and have already made three versions.  I’d been invited to the races at Goodwood through work.  I’d never been before, it really isn’t my thing, but obviously needed something to wear!  I’d bought some very pretty Liberty fabric at a special event at Clothkits a while ago and thought this would be just the thing.


My original version of the Laurel was a size 6.  I had subsequently cut the size 4, mainly because I didn’t have quite enough fabric on that occasion, and it was slightly skimpy.   As I have now shrunk slightly I went for the 4 again this time.  I underlined the fabric as it is quite delicate and slightly see-through.  I tried on the almost finished dress and W looked dubious – “it’s a bit sack like” he said.  He was right.  At this point I didn’t have time to do anything about it so decided to wear something different to the races and put the Laurel to one side.  A couple of days later I went back to it and took the side seams in by a maximum of an inch or so each side and that did the trick.

What I especially love about the Laurel is the cuff option which I’ve now used three times.  The dress did get worn quite soon afterwards as I was also invited to a cricket match.  I don’t know much more about cricket than I do about horse racing but it was a lovely sunny afternoon.  The photo of me wearing it isn’t great but the cuff looks nice!

The only other recent sewing for me has been a refashion of a charity shop frock.  It was a size 18 sundress (I forgot to take a before photo) with lots of lovely fabric in the skirt.  I wanted to keep the fullness so I just chopped off the bodice, added some in-seam pockets, gathered the waist and added some elastic for the waistband.  I couldn’t find a blue to match so went for pink!  I’ve worn this several times and have another dress lined up for similar treatment.  Who else is following the daily posts from Portia on this year’s The Refashioners?  Some great inspiration and I do have two pairs of jeans awaiting attention for the Community Challenge.

For any of you following W’s progress, the statistics are now :

Total inches lost (waist) : 3.5

Total weight lost : 10.7 kilos

18 thoughts on “Experimental Baking #2

  1. Jane you are amazing. I was thinking about you today and hoping there might be some recipes in the pipeline and lo and behold…..there were! Well done W . I’ll be able to get my arms round you for a big hug on Monday. Whether you can get your arms round me is another matter. I’m afraid I have not been as good as you have been.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your both disappearing, well done! I’m a huge beetroot fan but never had if roasted or in puds, so may need to change that. If I’d not been down your way the mention of goodwood would have hone straight over my head, but i feel quite worldly wise knowing what you’re on about! It’s a good job our hubbies are honest about what we look like in our me mades. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Roasting the beetroot is very effective – also good if you add some garlic but obviously not if you’re going to be making a cake with it! I think it keeps the flavour better than boiling it and is probably less messy. Hope you enjoyed Arundel, it is a lovely place. Yesterday I was told my outfit was a bit ‘Theresa May’!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great new waistline measurements and the green meals are looking brilliant to me, like I said before my meals are greener these days than ever before! I heard that Red Velvet cakes use beetroot? I dont know if thats right or not?? I love beetroot, with or without the vinegar, but the thought of the egg beside it, yuk! The dress and skirt look lovely, that skirt print certainly gives me fabric envy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so pleased with the refashioned skirt, not least because of the lovely fabric. It was originally from a really cheap and cheerful high street store but the fabric is a nice quality. Mind you, although I kept the original hem to save time it is decidedly wonky in places! I’ve never made Red Velvet cakes but I suspect there is a lot of food colouring in them as the ones I’ve seen are a very bright colour!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I would like to come round and eat at your place. The beetroot brownies look amazing. And I love the full skirt on you. Well done for making such a commitment to the healthy diet. My husband is on the same kick – but he does all the cooking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Kate. I seem to have missed out on men who can cook! There is a plan for some effort to be made on that front using the new cookbook. I shall report on any progress. If you are ever down our way you would be very welcome to come and eat with us!


    • Unless you are very keen to eliminate sugar I’d be inclined to suggest a slightly sweeter version of a beetroot cake! There are quite a few recipes on line and it does make the cake very moist.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well done on the weight loss!

    When you say it’s an acquired taste, what do you mean? What’s the initial flavour? Is it that muddy beetroot flavour?

    Also, have you tried kidney bean brownies? The texture takes some getting used to. But they are fudgy and delicious!

    And the stuff marketed as cacao and crazily priced I’d not that different to the supermarket stuff, it’s just Dutch processed which doesn’t change how good/bad it is for you, just the colour and acidity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! There is an element of muddiness there which I think would be better disguised in a cake when sugar is added. I’ve tried black beans in some brownies (or they may have been cookies) which were quite successful but they did have sugar in them. I’m planning on trying some ginger in my next experiment but not quite decided what the other ingredients will be. I think someone gave me the cacao which is why I have it in the kitchen – I shall return to good quality cocoa powder when it runs out!


  6. Love the refash. I am also terrible at taking the “before shot” but am also a sucker for a great print like yours.
    I love beetroot – in cakes also. There are some great healthy food blogs you could check out My New Roots and Green Kitchen Stories (they do a killer beetroot chocolate cake recipe that is TDF)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Really enjoying keeping up with your food updates. I find it so difficult at times to know what is and isn’t healthy, what with the media always bringing out new statistics and I can never keep up with what the latest ‘super food’ is. Have you been doing a lot of research on healthy eating or had access to a dietician? Or do you just have a good knowledge of neatly foods? (Unlike me! Haha) Good to hear that your W is doing well too 🙂
    I have to add that I love your dress too – those cuffs are fab, I can see why you always include them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry – I meant to reply to this straightaway but I got distracted! You are right – all those years we were told eggs increased your cholesterol level and now it is OK to eat them! We have done quite a lot of research and I’ve always been interested in food but really I’m just going by instinct and clearly it is working at the moment! There is a lot of hype out there about ‘superfoods’ and I’m never sure what to believe. W tore an article out of his New Scientist for me on this subject and it is currently stuck to the side of the fridge waiting for me to read it! Glad you like the cuffs – they are a lovely finishing touch to this dress.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s