LIKE many people, I spent a lot of time baking with my granny when I was younger so there’s something quite peaceful and nostalgic about it. Baking is easy too – simple but tasty fairy cakes have five ingredients and can be made and cooked in 30 minutes.

Of course, there are plenty of complicated and technical bakes but if you’re just doing it for yourself or your family then there’s nothing wrong with the tried and tested classics. Nobody ever turned their nose up at a slice of Victoria sponge.

Baking has become fashionable now too thanks to The Great British Bake Off. This can only be a good thing in my opinion as it encourages everyone, young and old, to get into the kitchen and give it a go.

I always say try and master a couple of easy recipes, then try a couple more. Once you’ve got the hang of it and perfected your techniques you can try something a bit more tricky. It’s also useful to understand how your oven works when baking a cake because not all ovens are the same – you might need to adjust the temperate or cooking time slightly but this will become apparent the more cakes you make.

For this week’s recipe I thought I’d share my beetroot and poppy seed cake with you.

Cakes made with vegetables might sound odd but we all love a bit of carrot cake. Less obvious options are parsnip, courgette and beetroot which is my personal favourite.

Adding vegetables to cakes not only creates a lovely moist sponge but also means you can sneak one of your ‘five-a-day’ into a tea-time treat.

Now if that’s not a good enough excuse to eat cake then I don’t know what is!


225g self-raising flour

½ tsp. bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp. baking powder

180g light brown sugar

3 eggs

180ml flavourless oil such as sunflower or groundnut

150g fresh beetroot, washed and grated

Juice of half a lemon

75g poppy seeds

For the glaze

Juice of 1 grapefruit

3cm sized piece of fresh ginger, grated

8 tbsp icing sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 180c/Gas 4/350F.

Grease and line a loaf tin with baking parchment.

Cream the sugar and oil together until light and fluffy then mix in the eggs one at a time. Add the grated beetroot and lemon juice and stir in the poppy seeds.

Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking power into the wet mixture and gently fold in until everything is combined. Don’t be tempted to give this a harsh mix because you’ll end up with a heavy cake.

Pour the cake batter into the loaf tin and cook for 50 minutes, covering the top halfway through with some tin-foil to stop it browning too much. After 50 minutes, test the cake with a with a cake skewer – it should be moist but not wet. Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes if so.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack and allowing to cool completely.

To make the glaze, add the grapefruit juice and grated ginger to a pan and simmer until the liquid has reduced by about two thirds and become quite thick and sticky. If you’d prefer a smooth glaze without bits then pass through a sieve whilst warm and allow to cool.

Once the cake has cooled, mix the icing sugar with the grapefruit and ginger syrup and pour over the top of the loaf, allowing it to drizzle down the sides.

Allow the glaze to set before slicing.