corn cakes can’t be beat …or can they?

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summary: recipe for beet cakes (beet fritters); these are even better than corn cakes; make sure the egg yolk doesn’t break when you separate the egg; click on image(s) for larger views and more photos

Ah, substitutions! I love substitutions! Years ago, I reported to my sister about the most amazing and wonderful stir-fried chicken with almonds that I had made. Instead of chicken, I’d used fish and instead of almonds I’d used sesame seeds….

beet cakes We cannot stop making corn cakes!! We just made them again a couple of nights ago. Except we didn’t have any corn. So we used beets. We didn’t think it possible but beet cakes are even better than corn cakes!

Good corn is only available for a very short time in the summer. However, we always have beets on hand. Beets galore. I keep buying them to make my favourite vegetable dish of stir-fried beet greens. For the beet greens, I added pears and peppers. Now beet greens with pears and peppers is my favourite vegetable dish.

Or is it? It’s in very close competition with beet cakes.

This is so thrilling. Fresh corn season is almost over and we have been desolated, trying to think of how we can still have corn cakes when corn is no longer in season. But now we don’t have to worry any more.

How happy am I? Now I can have my cake and eat it too. I can get beet greens whenever I see them and rest assured that there aren’t several beets lying forgotten in the vegetable drawer of the fridge for ages.

And. We get to use our beautiful copper bowl more often.

The first time we made the beet cakes, we forgot to add a chili. They were delicious anyway. But they were a little dense, not quite as light and airy as corn cakes.

Well, duh. Beets are sweet like corn, but they don’t have the starch. And they aren’t nearly as liquid.

beet cakes So, last night when we made the beet cakes again, we added a little yoghurt and some water. We also remembered to add the chili pepper.

Those beet cakes were perfect. So perfect that we want to have beet cakes every night!

Here’s what T did to make them:

Fresh Beet Cakes (savoury)
based on Tanna’s (and King Arthur’s Flour) corn cake recipe

serves 2

  • 1 large uncooked beet
  • 1 Tbsp (or so) plain yoghurt
  • some water ¹
  • 1 egg, separated ²
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large green chili
  • some onion, chopped (optional) ³
  • 3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
  • vegetable oil
  1. Peel the beet; trim and discard the ends. Grate the beet into a medium sized bowl. We used our box grater. A mandolin with the matchstick blade would probably work too. (If there’s too much grated beet, set it aside and turn it into beet salad.)
  2. Stir in yoghurt and water.
  3. Cut green chili into small coins. Set aside.
  4. Whisk the egg yolk into the beet mixture.
  5. Add flour, salt, pepper green chili coins and onion into the beet mixture. Whisk well to mix.
  6. Beat egg whites into stiff peaks. Gently fold into beet mixture.
  7. Heat a cast-iron frying pan or griddle to medium high. Add a splash of oil. Spoon the batter onto the hot oil.
  8. Turn when golden brown on the bottom. Cook an additional couple minutes until both sides are golden.

Serve immediately.


1.) How much water? There’s that “some” as the measurement. It all depends on the beet. In this case we put in a couple of tablespoons, maybe more, maybe less. The way we decided was to guess how liquid the mixture would be if the grated beets were crushed fresh corn. I hope that makes sense!

2.) Separating the egg If you want your egg whites to go into peaks, it’s essential that the yolk doesn’t break. On this last time, alas, the yolk did break as we were separating it. While the whites did foam up quite a lot, they refused to go even close to peak stage. But still the beet cakes turned out beautifully.

3.) How much onion? There’s that “some” again. We put in enough to add a little flavour but not enough to overwhelm. The first time we added none at all. And the beet cakes were delicious.


beet cakes The first time round, the beet cakes were delicious with roasted rosemary chicken, beet greens with pears and oven-roasted potatoes with sage. Straw coloured nasturtium flowers were a beautiful touch. I love the fleeting hot sweet flavour of them too.

A few nights later, the beet cakes were just as delicious with roasted chicken thighs and a sherry reduction garnished with radish, fennel and nigella sprouts, steamed green beans, oven-roasted potatoes with rosemary and a little parsley.

Let’s have beet cakes again soon! But maybe next time, instead of beets, we’ll use zucchini. Or… hmmmm… what other vegetables should we try?

The ironic thing about last night’s dinner is that we actually found decent looking local fresh peaches and cream corn on the cob at the vegetable store on the weekend. (Nope, no photographic evidence. We ate it. :-))

We LOVE having corn on the cob as an appetizer! We were GOING to make corn cakes but just couldn’t stop ourselves from having corn on the cob just one last time before the summer ends.

If it ever ends. It’s poisonously hot again. How can this be??


edit: Take a look at this amazing video on how to separate an egg: YouTube: very cool way to separate yolk from egg white. (Of course, I will probably continue to use my usually chicken’s (bok bok bok) method to separate an egg and use the handy plastic gizmo that was given to me years ago.

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2 responses to “corn cakes can’t be beat …or can they?

  1. Katie

    My hubs would say – It’s like mixing cement – you use just enough! I never see raw beets but cooked beets are always in the markets. I usually buy them and make pickles, but this would be good…. Like zucchini patties only with beets. I get the idea.

    Exactly, Katie. In fact, the next time we make corn beet cakes we plan on using zucchini rather than beets. Don’t forget to separate the egg and whip the whites. It really pushes the cakes onto a new plateau. -Elizabeth

  2. Patricia

    I must try beet cakes! I make shredded beet salad, cooked shredded beets (sauteed in oil, add lemon zest or not, finish with dill and lemon juice or wine), grilled beet salad (boil beets, cool, peel, slice and marinate for a while in a simple vinaigrette, grill and serve with toasted pecans, chives and crumbled goat cheese).

    We love the corn cakes and we must try beet cakes! I’d make them tonight but I just shucked and scraped the corn. Perhaps later this week. But should I use the zucchini? or the beets? what to do, what to do?!

    Well, it’s a no-brainer, isn’t it, Patricia? Make both kinds, of course! :-) Oooooh, your grilled beet salad sounds fantastic! It’s not even close to dinner time, but I want some now. -Elizabeth


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