Who would ever think that chocolate and beets would go together? Its such a surprise to find that they do, quite well, in red velvet cake. A cake featured in the movie Steel Magnolias, in the shape of an armadillo. Of course, many modern day Red velvet cake recipies call for copious quantities of Red food coloring, but  this is not something I would voluntarily include in any cake I make.

I learned how to make red velvet cake on one of my work trips to the west coast, where I had to buy groceries as I was on my way to the helicopter, and accidently got charged 13$ for 4 beets through a mistake at Thrifties. Always remember to check your reciepts folks, even if your on your way to a flight. So there I was with my horribly expensive beets, trying to think of something real special I could make with them that would make it all worth it. Which is how I came to learn how to make red velvet cake.

At this time, the sun was just begining to shine regularly, and it was time to get out the solar cooker. Or make a new one, since I didn’t pack my own with me. So I made solar baked red velvet cake. A cake baked in a solar cooker will take twice as long as a conventional oven, and may not rise as much. It will also be moist, more like a steamed cake, because solar baking requires glass ontop of the cake, a sealed in environment. You may have to turn the cooker so that it is getting maximum sunlight on all surfaces.

I used to not have an oven when I lived on my sailboat.  So I made cakes and bread either in the solar cooker if it was sunny or on the Cobb BBQ. As an alternitive, I could also bake cake in my pressure canner. But nothing pleased me like baking it in the sunshine.

Here is the recipie

  Solar baked Red velvet Cake


¾ cup pureed beets

1/3 cup oil

¾ cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract or ½ tsp vanilla powder

1 ½ tbls cocoa powder

1 ¼ flour

½ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tbsp flax meal (optional)

3/4 cup liquids, either milk or yougart with a beaten egg in it

puree beets and oil together, adding sugar and vanilla. Seperatly combine dry ingredients, add to batter alternating between flour mixture and yougart mixture.

Pour into a flat, round cake pan or pie plate. To cook properly in the solar cooker, the dish must be black and have a clear glass pyrex plate overtop of it. Or the cake pan is set inside a larger black cast iron pan that will absorb and store the heat. Place this in the reflector once the thermometer indicated 100 o C or close to it. Solar cooking is not so much of an exact science. It will likely take 1 ½ hours, possibly more, depending on the intensity of the sunlight.red velvet solar baked

and if you would like, here’s a link to plans of how to build the solar cooker I am using to bake this cake. I made it  on the scene from Tuk Tape, a mylar emergancy blanket and coroplast.

solar cooker plans