© David Loftus
Boil the beets until soft, then drain and allow to cool a little. Rub the skins off, then mash in a food processor or with a masher until smooth. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the beet purée, ginger, egg yolks, honey and olive oil in a bowl and add the seeds from 1 vanilla bean. Whisk together, then add the baking powder, polenta, orange zest and juice, salt, allspice, cinnamon and flour. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the beet mixture. Get yourself a 10-inch cake pan or springform pan. Rub with butter and dust with a little flour to keep the cake from sticking. You could also line it with wax paper (see page 174 for how to make a cartouche) to be really sure. Pour in the mixture, then bake in the preheated oven for around 35 minutes, until spongy. Test whether its ready by poking a toothpick into it if its clean when it comes out, you know the cakes done. Allow to cool. Whisk the crème fraîche with the vin santo, sugar and the seeds from the remaining vanil- la bean. Taste and adjust to your liking with a bit more sugar and vin santo. Serve the cake in wedges with a big dollop of the vin santo and vanilla cream.
1lb 2oz raw beets, preferably organic