- 1 1 vanilla bean
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup (220g) firmly packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup (90g) honey
- ½ cup (125ml) buttermilk
- ½ cup (125ml) vegetable oil
- 1 cup (150g) plain flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 medium beetroot (175g)
- ¾ cup (110g) skinless hazelnuts, roasted, chopped coarsely, plus extra to decorate
- 125 grams cream cheese, softened
- 125 grams butter, softened
- 2 cups (320g) icing sugar
- 1Preheat oven to 170°C/340°F. Grease three 8cm x 18cm, 3 cup (750ml) capacity loaf pans; line bases and long sides with baking paper, extending the paper 2cm over the sides.
- 2Split vanilla bean in half lengthways; scrape seeds into a small bowl. Add eggs, sugar and honey; beat with an electric mixer for 5 minutes or until thick and creamy. Add buttermilk and oil; beat until combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; stir in combined sifted flour, cocoa, mixed spice, baking powder and soda.
- 3Grate beetroot coarsely. Squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice from the beetroot into a small bowl; reserve for ruby frosting. Fold grated beetroot and hazelnuts into cake mixture. Spoon mixture evenly into loaf pans; smooth the surface.
- 4Bake cakes for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave cakes in pans for 5 minutes before turning, top-side up, onto a wire rack to cool.
- 5Meanwhile, make ruby frosting. Beat cream cheese and butter in a small bowl with an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until pale and smooth. Add sifted icing sugar; beat until combined. Add enough of the reserved beetroot juice (from step 3) to tint frosting; beat until smooth and evenly coloured. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- 6Spread tops of cakes with frosting; scatter with extra hazelnuts.
The juice from vibrant vegies and fruit like beetroot or pomegranate makes a natural alternative to artificial food colourings.Cake, up to the end of step 4, can be made a day ahead; store in an airtight container.You can also use the cake mixture to make one large loaf. Grease and line the base and long sides of a 12cm x 23cm (4¼-inch x 9¼-inch) loaf pan; bake at the same temperature for 55 minutes.
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