Welcome to a seasonal series on Bites showcasing the rich, ruby-red diversity of beet recipes across our dining landscape. If you encounter exceptional uses of beets in your dining rounds this summer, please submit them for inclusion in The Beet Beat.
Our first Best of the Beets is the Pink Radio Cake from Fido. This bubblegum-colored layer cake, which sells for $4.25 a slice, is the fortunate byproduct of a beet salad that was briefly on the specials menu at the Hillsboro Village eatery. The kitchen brought in so many beets for the salad that pastry chef Lisa Ann Jones (formerly Lisa Bachman, she just married kitchen manager Pete Jones) decided to find an alternate use for them.
Bachman-now-Jones, an alumnus of the vegan bakery at Grins, adapted a recipe that Fido had already been using and that included red dye. "I didn't want to be using any more dye than we had to," she says. "I wanted to experiment with beets, and it worked out perfectly."
The result is a cake whose happy hue would imply faux color but whose crisp sweetness and subtle beetiness are alluringly natural. Jones is not giving away the Fido family recipe, but she says the cake includes puréed local beets (from the Farmers' Market), a canola-olive oil blend, buttermilk, white vinegar, eggs, sugar, cake flour, baking soda and salt. The icing is a blend of cream cheese, butter, confectioner's sugar and beet purée.
"Sometimes it turns out as bright and beautiful as you want, and sometimes the beets aren't as vibrant," she adds. So far, Jones has stuck with red beets, but the suggestion of using yellow beets gets her to thinking. "I've wanted to make a golden-orange cake. I tried carrots, and they didn't work, but yellow beets...I'm glad we're having this conversation."