Janet of real vanilla suppliers LittlePod shares this luxurious chocolate cake recipe:

“This is the most yummy and luxurious of cakes. I love beetroot in all its forms: baked, pickled raw and could eat it every day. When we decided on a venue for our 1st anniversary we felt it important to have our own signature cake. I suggested using beetroot and devised a cake for our special day. This recipe was the result. However we held the tea party at London’s amazing secret garden, the Chelsea Physic garden and Limpet, who runs their Tangerine Dream Café, altered the ingredients a little and produced the most moist, memorable cake.”


250g/8oz dark/bittersweet chocolate, plus 150g/5oz. for the topping
3 eggs
250g light muscovado sugar
1 tsp LittlePod vanilla paste or 1 vanilla pod
7 tablespoons of clear honey
2 tsps LittlePod chocolate extract
30g self-raising flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
50g ground almonds
300g/10oz. raw beetroot, peeled and finely grated
30ml/2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp LittlePod coffee extract (optional)
1 tsp LittlePod vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) Gas mark 3. Cut a wide strip of baking paper and tie it around the outside of the cake pan, to make a collar that rises 10cm/4 inches above the top.

2. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water and heat gently until melted. Set aside to cool briefly. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar, vanilla paste (or seeds from the vanilla pod ), 4 tbsps of honey and chocolate extract for 3 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Next, fold in the flours, bicarbonate of soda, salt and almonds.

3. Drain any excess liquid from the grated beetroot, then fold it into the cake mixture with a spatula, followed by the cooled chocolate and sunflower oil, until completely combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake on the middle shelf for 90 minutes. If a knife or skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

4. To make the topping, melt the remaining chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, then remove it from the heat, add the coffee extract (if using) and vanilla extract and the remaining honey. Set aside for 15 minutes before topping the cake with it. Decorate the cake however you wish; we think it looks beautiful with colourful fresh flowers.