This tastes no more of beetroot than a carrot cake tastes of carrots, yet it has a similar warm, earthiness to it. It is less sugary than most cakes and the scented icing I drizzle over it is purely optional. The first time I made it, I used half sunflower and half Fairtrade brazil nut oil, but only because the Brazil oil was new and I wanted to try it. Very successful it was too, not to mention boosting everyone’s zinc levels.
self raising flour - 225g
bicarbonate of soda - half a teaspoon
baking powder - 1 scant teaspoon
ground cinnamon - half teaspoon
eggs - 3
light muscovado sugar - 225g
sunflower or brazil nut oil - 180ml
raw beetroot - 150g
juice of half a lemon
sultanas or raisins - 75g
mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, linseed) - 75g
for the icing:
icing sugar - 8 tablespoons
lemon juice or orange blossom water
Set the oven at 180˚/Gas 4. Lightly butter a rectangular loaf tin (20cm x9cm x 7cm deep, measured across the bottom) then line the bottom with baking parchment.
Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Beat the oil and sugar in a food mixer until well creamed then introduce the beaten egg yolks one by one, reserving the whites for later.
Grate the beetroot coarsely and fold into the
mixture then add the lemon juice, raisins or sultanas and the assorted seeds.
Fold the flour and raising agents into the mixture whilst the machine
is turning slow. Beat the egg whites till light and almost
Fold gently but thoroughly
into the mixture using a large metal spoon (a wooden one will knock the air
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 50-55 minutes, covering the to with a piece of tin foil after 30 minutes. Test with a skewer for doneness. The cake should be moist inside but not sticky. Leave the cake to settle for a good 20 minutes before turning out of its tin on to a wire cooling rack.
Make the icing. Sieve the icing sugar and stir in enough lemon juice or orange blossom water to achieve a consistency where the icing will run over the top of the cake and dribble slowly down the sides (about 3 teaspoonfuls), stirring to remove any lumps. Drizzle over the cake and scatter with poppy seeds. Leave to set before eating.