What better book to review in Spring than The Great Dixter, a cookbook developed from the owners of the famous garden of the same name in England. This book is a thing of beauty. Light green-tinged pages give way to hazy full colour photographs and simple recipes using ingredients that grow plentifully in their garden.
The book includes gardening tips, it is written by a gardener afterall. These are useless to me since I've managed to kill several succulents and a handful of air plants over the last year or so. Brandon has forbid me from bringing any larger plants into our home after an unfortunate incident with a very huge, soggy pot of soil containing the carcass of a tropical shrub that he uncovered on our balcony after the winter thaw. If you're even the slightest bit better at growing plants than I am, then the gardening tips are a timely and useful resource.
We baked the beetroot and chocolate cake, page 148, and made the following substitutions:
- Rice milk in place of regular milk
- Enjoy Life all-purpose flour (free from top 8 allergens including gluten) instead of wheat flour
- Canola oil instead of sunflower oil
- Enjoy Life chocolate chips (free from the top 8 allergens) instead of regular baking chocolate
- And we omitted the clotted cream for serving. We didn't have any coconut cream on hand but I would recommend that for serving in future!
One of the things that made this cake so amazing was that it had a ton of chopped chocolate and lots of cocoa. Like, a whole cup of cocoa. I think that's the most I've ever put into a cake! It gave the cake a really dense and rich texture and colour, and the chocolate pieces acted as a binder for the gluten-free flour. Using rice milk instead of dairy milk gave the batter a nutty taste
Look at this colour!
I'm a huge fan of baking with veggies. Whether it be carrot or zucchini added to a cake, or in this case roasted beetroot. First of all, that colour is amazing. And look at it when blended with the cocoa. We couldn't wait to dig in and the batter wasn't even ready yet.
The formula and process of the recipe was different than any I had made before. We combined the beetroot, rice milk, eggs, and dry ingredients, and then added the oil afterwards plus a little extra rice milk, and the chopped chocolate. I'm not sure what the science is behind this but I'm used to adding the oil and eggs at the beginning. Nevertheless, the texture was excellent so this method worked.
I could eat this entire bowl. So rich and creamy
The loaf took about an hour to bake. The finished product was nice and chewy, rich, and tasted earthy. It actually tasted and looked like a garden bed which I thought was a nice homage to the book itself and its origins. I would suggest topping it with some coconut cream if serving as dessert, or with a thick slathering of sunflower seed butter if having for breakfast or snack.
The Great Dixter Cookbook would make a fab gift for any aspiring gardener or houseplant-grower. It provided both recipe and outdoor space inspiration, and the packaging of it presents so well as a gift that anyone would want to display in their kitchen.