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With boozy vanilla crème fraîche
“The surprise here is that this cakey treat is made with beetroot – bet you didn't see that coming! ”
When I was little, a gym opened around our way and it had a juice bar where they served this amazing carrot cake with a twangy sour cream topping. This is one of my efforts at making boring old carrot cake remotely credible. My mate Peter Begg, the friendly Scotsman, suggested I swap carrot for beetroot, which I did, and the result was marvellous. Thanks Pete!
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas 4. Peel your beetroots then coarsely grate them into a bowl. Add the ginger, egg yolks, honey and olive oil in a bowl and add the seeds from 1 vanilla pod. 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 beetroot mixture.
Get yourself a 25cm cake tin or cheesecake mould. Rub with butter and dust with a little flour to stop the cake sticking. You could also line it with greaseproof paper to be really sure. Pour in the mixture then bake in the preheated oven for around 35 minutes until spongy. Test whether it's ready by poking a cocktail stick into it – if it's clean when it comes out you know the cake's done. Allow to cool.
Whisk the crème fraîche with the vin santo, sugar and the seeds from the remaining vanilla pod. 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.