Spiced beetroot, orange, almond and fig cake with boozy cinnamon syrup

Spiced beetroot, orange, almond and fig cake with boozy cinnamon syrup

As someone trying to avoid wheat, desserts are a bit of a minefield. They very often include flour and when they don’t there is a propensity to rely on chocolate as the principle flavour. It is not that I am against chocolate. I enjoy a brownie as much as the next person but it is just nice to have a bit of choice.

This cake is spicy, dense and packed with fruit. The beetroot and the oranges give it a lovely warm colour and with September being the best time for getting hold of ripe figs this makes very cheering dessert with which to step merrily into the change of the seasons without feeling too maudlin about the ending of summer.

I put butter in the syrup but if you wanted a dairy free version leave out the butter and add a little oil to the syrup instead. Alternatively, serve your guests a shot of neat liqueur alongside their cake which they could pour over the top or drink with wild abandon as they see fit.   


Spiced beetroot, orange, almond and fig cake with boozy cinnamon syrup
Serves: 10
  • 100g dried apricots
  • 1 large orange
  • 3 beetroots
  • 4 eggs
  • 75g crystallised ginger
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 70ml honey or agave syrup
  • 20ml black treacle
  • 1 tsp mace
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe figs
  • Flaked almonds to decorate
    For the syrup
  • 1 large orange
  • 55g butter
  • 115g golden caster sugar, or muscovado if you are looking for a richer syrup
  • 60ml cinnamon liqueur or other spirit of choice.
  1. Place the dried apricots in a bowl of hot water and set aside.
  2. Take one of the oranges and cut into 8 pieces. Lay the pieces in the bottom of a non-stick pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and let simmer for 45 minutes, adding more water when necessary so that the pan doesn’t go dry. Remove the orange pieces from the water and set aside to cool.
  3. Heat the oven to 180C.
  4. Peel and finely grate the beetroot. To avoid too much purple hand staining you might want to use the grating function on a mixer if you have one.
  5. Separate the eggs, adding the yolks in with the grated beetroot.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form a creamy foam.
  7. Remove the apricots from the water, chop roughly and add to the beetroot mix. Next, roughly chop the crystallised ginger and add to the mixture along with the ground almonds, honey, treacle, vanilla extract and mace. Mix well to combine then add then fold in the egg whites.
  8. Line and grease a 9 inch spring base cake tin and pour in the cake batter.
  9. Cut each fig into four pieces and arrange skin side down on top of the cake. They may stick out a bit at the beginning but they’ll sink down as the cake cooks.
  10. Place on the centre shelf and for 1 hour.
  11. For the syrup, grate the zest from the orange and set aside, then squeeze out the juice.
  12. Melt the butter over a low heat then add the sugar, orange juice and liqueur. I like to use cinnamon liqueur although rum or brandy would work well here too. Stir until the sugar dissolves and let simmer for a minute or two then remove from the heat.
  13. To check that the cake is ready, prod with a skewer and if it comes out clean then the cake is cooked.
  14. To serve, place slices of cake on individual plates and spoon over a little of the syrup on each or leave the cake whole, pouring the syrup over the top and let people help themselves.



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