Pic of Beetroot, orange, pecan and poppyseed cake

Beetroot, orange, pecan and poppyseed cake

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Beetroot, orange, pecan and poppyseed cake

Pudding & Cake Serves 10 1h
This is canteen chef Rob's entry to our 2011 Cake Off: a heavenly day when we ate lots of cake and voted on the best. In classic Rob fashion the cake employed the freshest ingredients that were in the boxes. He used blood oranges, but you can use whatever variety is in season.

Cook's notes

If you are feeling fancy... you can decorate the top with candied blood oranges. <ul> <li>water 1 1/2 cups</li> <li>sugar 1/2 cup</li> <li>blood orange Halve the orange and slice each half into 1/4 inch slices. Put water and sugar into a clean, heavy bottomed, wide based pan and bring to the boil. Add the orange segments and keep on a medium boil for about 20minutes, turning the slices every so often, by which time the liquid should be a light syrup. Turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes. The syrup should be getting sticky and starting to coat the oranges. Remove the slices and cool on baking parchment.</li> </ul> If you are feeling fancier still... you could also add some pistachio dust. The vivid green contrasts well with the frosting. Take a small handfull of pistachios and whizz in a food processor, or better still a spice grinder until very finely ground. You will find that it is quite sticky and will stay in lumps due to the fat and oil that has been released by the blending. In order to dust the cake it is best to get small amounts in the palm of you hand and rub your hands together above the cake, it should fall in a nice even scatter.



  • 200ml sunflower oil
  • 250g light muscovado sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 170g beetroot, grated
  • 125g pecans, roughly chopped
  • zest and juice of ½ blood orange
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch sea salt

for the frosting

  • 100g soft butter
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 200g mascarpone
  • 200g unrefined icing sugar
  • zest of 1 blood orange
  • 1½ tsp poppyseeds


Prep time: 20 min
Cooking time: 40 min


  • Step 1

    Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Line and butter 2 x 22cm cake tins.
  • Step 2

    Set the oil and sugar to whisk in a mixer. Split the eggs into yolks and whites. When the sugar and oil are looking well mixed then add the egg yolks bit by bit.
  • Step 3

    Remove the bowl from mixer and add the beetroot, pecans and orange juice. Now sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Fold together until well combined.
  • Step 4

    Whisk the egg whites until light, fuffy and just forming stiff peaks. Using a large metal spoon fold one spoonful of egg white into the cake mix to loosen the mixture, followed by the rest, folding until the mix is well and evenly combined. Do not beat the mixture as you don't want to knock the air out of the egg whites.
  • Step 5

    Split the mix evenly between the tins and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a knife tip or skewer comes out just clean.

To make the frosting

  • Step 1

    put all ingredients in a mixer, making sure to sift the icing sugar and beat until smooth.
  • Step 2

    When cooled sandwich the layers with ⅓ of the mixture and top with the rest.

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