Serves 10
Preparation time: 45 minutes + cooling
Cooking time: 1–11⁄4 hours

250g chilled vacuum pack of cooked beetroot in natural juices, drained
250g Butter, at room temperature
250g Caster Sugar
4 Eggs
250g Self-Raising Flour
50g Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
Butter Icing
125g Butter, at room temperature
250g Icing Sugar
1⁄2 tsp Vanilla Essence
1 tbsp Milk
To decorate
Mauve paste food colouring
500g Ready-to-roll fondant icing
Cornflour for dusting
50g Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa), melted
1m x 2.5cm wide brown ribbon

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Line the base and sides of a 20cm deep, round, loose- bottomed cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
  3. Purée the beetroot in a food processor until smooth then scoop out and reserve.
  4. Add the butter and sugar to the processor and cream together until light and fluffy.
  5. Gradually mix in the eggs, one at a time, adding a little of the flour after each addition and mixing until smooth before adding the next egg.
  6. Add the remaining flour, cocoa powder and vanilla essence.
  7. Mix until smooth then beat in the beetroot purée.
  8. Spoon the mixture into the tin, level the surface and bake for 1–11⁄4 hours or until well risen, the top is slightly cracked and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. (You may need to cover the top of the cake after 45 mins or so if seems to be browning too quickly.)
  9. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. To make the icing, beat the butter, half the icing sugar, vanilla essence and milk together until smooth then gradually beat in the remaining sugar.
  11. Peel the paper off the cake, cut horizontally into three thin layers then sandwich back together with half the butter icing.
  12. Spread the remaining icing thinly over the top and sides of the cake.
  13. Transfer to a serving plate.
  14. Knead a little food colouring into the ready-to-roll icing and roll out on a surface lightly dusted with cornflour until you have a circle of about 30cm in diameter.
  15. Lift over the rolling pin, drape over the cake and smooth in place with hands dusted in cornflour.
  16. Trim off excess icing and brush away any remaining cornflour from the cake.
  17. Spoon the melted chocolate into a greaseproof paper piping bag, fold the top down securely and snip a tiny amount from the tip with scissors.
  18. Mark a circle in the centre of the cake with a 7.5cm plain biscuit cutter and pipe dots of chocolate on the marked circle (don’t pipe them too close together or they will merge together).
  19. Pipe swirls and dots of chocolate over the top of the cake.
  20. Leave in a cool place for the decoration to set then finish with a ribbon around the sides of the cake.
  21. Secure in place with dot of melted chocolate or a pin, but remember to remove the pin just before serving the cake.

Tips

If you don’t have a food processor, mash the beetroot or roughly chop and purée in small batches in a liquidiser.

For a special occasion, place fine candles just inside the circle in the centre of the cake.
This is also delicious and moist served plain without the buttercream or fondant icing; whipped cream makes a good accompaniment.

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