I WROTE THIS ENTRY in Tangleberry Diaries in the winter of 2013. I held it back as Tangleberry Cottage was not ready. Now that the winter of 2014 is almost upon us I am posting it. It gives you an idea about the bird life in the Elgin Valley.


If you arrive in Elgin Valley stressed, consider enjoying the organic beetroot in our garden at Tangleberry Cottage. The betaine in the beetroot relaxes the mind and the trytophan will give you a sense of well being. Should you over-indulge on some of the gorgeous wines in the area, beta cyanin is an antioxidant – it speeds up detoxification in your liver. And if you need any help with romance, its nature’s own Viagra.

Loxton Thunder final print file BLOG 935 PIXELS

ON THE SECOND DAY OF THE BEGINNING OF THE 1ST CENTURY AD, when the pastoral tribes of Khoikhoi and the hunter gatherers of the San were at conflict, the great mountainous landscape of the Hottentots Holland was struck by a ferocious storm. The skies rumbled and thunderbolts crashed into the earth. Runaway fires left destruction in their wake. The earth burned and with it, every perennial plant and creature. The fleeing clans heard the screams of the dying vegetation, a whistling noise as the oxygen was sucked out of the wood. Finally there was nothing to take and the scorched earth gave in. The ghostly aroma of charred wood drifted through the air. Wispy smoke and the blackened scars of debris criss-crossed the landscape like seared burnt meat.


In the cimmerian darkness the devastation continued to rage. Through the reefs of pitch-dark clouds lightning raced across the skies, piecing the earth and igniting what little had not been burnt, turning the green fynbos land into a cinders ruin. The landscape lay in perpetual darkness shrouded in a ghostly aura.

The craggy Cape white sandstone, brow-beaten by the wind and rain for centuries to scabrous shapes that resembled mythical creatures from a dinosaurian age jutted from the landscape – all were ready to do battle. Images of long-fingered devils grinning at lost souls drowning in violent black seas flickered in the darkness. The sedimentary rock had lost its pearly complexion, looking more like a mascara tear-stained face of distraught woman.


Finally glacial sweeps of rain blew in. Aided by a fierce south easterly wind, broad billowing gusts crashed into the trees. Many uprooted and tumbled down the slopes like wind-swept tumbleweed. Frightened, the clans of the Khoikhoi and San bushmen put aside their differences and ran in fear, taking shelter in caves. They prayed to Tsui-Goab the supreme being of all their gods, beseeching him to save them. But Tsui-Goab did not answer them. They looked at each other and asked, who was to blame? But nothing was forthcoming.


Rather fortuitous for the anxious clans, the ashen landscape was unexpectedly held back from spreading, when the cannonade of explosions started to dissipate. Mist and rain settled in with the regularity of marching soldiers. The sodden earth yielded, giving way to an avalanche of mud and slime, burying rivulets, streams and all dead creatures in the valleys. The swampy sludge carried the gurgling dying even deeper down into other valleys, finally settling when the mountains started to rise.

Cold as misery and wrapped in animal skins, a young man sat on his haunches, huddled over a burning campfire in a mountain cave. Displaying an athletic body, his muscular arms wrapped around his haunched legs. His overgrown crinkly black hair sat like a saltbush shrub on his head. Pierced through his woolly mop were several poisoned arrows.

With the boy sat his father and his three wives, six brothers and many aunties. Downcast and melancholy was the aura that surrounded them. With somber faces they listened to the pitter patter on the puddles outside the cave’s entrance. The sibilant sound of wind among leaves punctured their morbid silence.

In the gloom his dark chocolate eyes melted into his milk chocolate complexion. The smell of dampened ash and burning Acacia wood hung in the air, like a grey cloud sticking to the cavern’s ceiling. Below the smog, the wood-burning fires cast a warm theatrical light that flickered on the various groups of clans huddled together, mostly all in prayer to their god, Tsui-Goab. Plumes of vapour danced up towards the ceiling. The resulting condensation dripped down in cold drops you could barely see. The cave floor oozed with moisture.

Through the shadows, his eyes saw their grim and grimy faces covered in soot and ash. He saw from their glazed look a fear of the unknown, what the morning would bring, the following day and the days that followed. None were brave enough to walk outside; all were still frightened to venture. Tsui-Goab had given no sign for them to leave. They were waiting for some forewarning.

The young man showed no fear. He was hungry and wanted to go and pick berries or hunt a buck. A hollow feeling was growing in his stomach. He looked through the smoggy mist at the distraught faces. It was then that he first saw the girl curled up against her mother sleeping, who in turn slept snuggled up to her husband, a ferocious looking man with large teeth, a grizzly beard and a manic hairdo, who was busy shaping his spear with a sharp stone. In that moment, with the rat-a-tat of the rain, the girl pierced the boy’s thoughts – and his heart.

For the next few minutes the young man’s heart raced like the buck he hunted. He needed to distance himself from these sudden feelings that stirred within him. He told himself to seek solitude away from the cave. He rose and walked towards the mouth of the cave. Voices started to murmur and eyes followed him. And as he reached the entrance of the cave, the whispering grew louder. The girl watched, now awake from the chattering.


The young man stepped out into the late afternoon. A veil of dark purple light spread before him. The blackened sky that had kissed the earth so closely for so long had now lifted, just above the peaks of the mountain tops. The black clouds had turned an ashen grey, broken with patches of dark blue. Below the murky sky, the charcoal landscape looked lifeless. But activity was beginning with sporadic flecks of yellow and green from the new leaves and shoots on the blackened trees and shrubs. Even the scabrous shapes of of mythical creatures were starting to show some glow. From a little distance a weary lion sat and watched. The devastation of the last few weeks had stolen his meals. Exhausted but hungry, the animal lifted its body and edged towards his future meal.

The young man surveyed the landscape. A heavy mist, resembling boiling cauldron steam rolled down the mountains wistfully into the valleys. As it reached the lowland, vaporous clouds wafted upwards then quickly evaporating into the air. It started to rain, a light sprinkle of fat plopping drops of water. One oversized one hit the young man’s upper right cheek, splashing into his eye. For a few moments he couldn’t see. Momentarily his sense of direction was lost. The lion sensed his opportunity would be soon.


The boy’s hunger dictated his movements, as did the weary lion that stalked him. Their stomachs were gnawing at the hollow within them. His eyes searched the ground for anything tasty. He saw the dark earthy goodness of the soil had been sucked out leaving a pale white earth that he had never seen before. He walked slowly with probing eyes, treading carefully between the patches of thriving plants in the burnt fynbos and charred trees. Various shades of green leaves told him what was edible and anything orange or white was not to be touched. Emerald green leaves with deep red stems caught his eye. Curious, as he hadn’t seen anything like it before, he bent down to see that they were attached to a round red tuber. He watched the rainwater trickle around the tuber and pass by his feet. Lifting one slowly, he saw the bulb taper down in the shape of a heart. Thin curly roots hung down in small clumps like the crinkly beard of an old man.

The young man washed the heart shaped tuber in the falling rain. Even though his bravado had got him to move out of the cave, he looked at his discovery with a certain amount of apprehension. With caution he bit into the tuber.

At first his face showed no expression. Then slowly a curious smile spread as he discovered the sweetness within the tuber. The flavours started to explore the inner sanctity of his taste buds. There was no astringency or spiciness just a arboraceous tartness on the thin outside skin. Had the god Tsui-Goab heard their prayers and brought them a gift? Maybe, there were many more of these tubers . . . and maybe enough for the clans? And maybe . . . ? Then he heard the roar . . .

“Kraaaarrrk! Kraaaarrrk! Kraaaarrrk! Kraaaarrrk!”

Startled! I woke up. I must have been dreaming. Did my heart skip a beat, flounder or was it spooked through a sudden unexpected intruder? The rapid honking ka-ka-ka-kaka of the Egyptian Geese or the hahahaha bleating of the Reed Cormorant? Maybe the revving of the moaning neighbour’s tractor or even Tyson nudging me to go for walkies?

I dream a lot. In fact I have dreamt every night of my life and as many as a dozen. Some are peculiar, but somehow food always manages to appear in my night movies. I’ve always wondered what the Elgin Valley was like in the bygone days before the pioneers and farmers arrived? But why was I dreaming about beetroot in such a strange way? Then my secretary in my left brain lobe, somewhere, chirped in,

“Have you gone to see how the beetroot crop is doing? You’ve been a bit absent-minded recently, Michael”

“No of course not”, I spoke back, irritated that he had pointed out a recent development in my life – the early signs of dementia, he’d like to tell me, but its more just forgetfulness. Nicely I answered back, “Oh shoo . . . I was dreaming in my sleep.”

I dislike my secretary who constantly reminds me of my absentmindedness, which drives me mad. The upside of it is that I get to walk more often, trying to remember what it was I was supposed to do. Back and forth, up and down I would trudge, steps, dirt roads and the occasional hill. But I dislike overgrown beetroots even more than my nagging secretary. The taste is woody and only good for the compost heap. Some end up looking like gargoyles in Adderley Street, partly chewed off by father time.

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My beetroots are totally spoilt with the finest homemade compost with loads of dried comfrey leaves and its juice. Instant ejaculation one gardener told me, which explains the speed at which they grow. As babies, when first trans-planted, they are fed bonemeal and chicken poo compost that’s matured over many, many months. To keep them happy, I’ve made sure their best friends, lettuce and garlic are around them. This keeps everyone happy. Unfortunately lettuce, with their hyperactive genes are fast growers. They’re fully grown before their friend the beetroot has developed a reasonably-size derriere. Whereas the garlic takes practically the whole year to mature into a multi-breasted bosomy vegetable – I have to constantly find garlic new friends and unfortunately other Allium family relations are not allowed, it affects their growth – Pigmy garlic is a pain to peel.


When the beetroot finally arrives into this world, they are juicy, heart-shaped, chamonix rouge, reminiscent of a Dita Von Teese pouting red lips. Of course when I let them wallow in the fertile soil and mud for a while longer, which they love, they end up aglow, like voluptuous ladies, incandescent, with the vitality of youth.

My secretary was right, I better go and see how the beets are doing. Tyson our ‘bird’ dog ears immediately perked up. He gave me that, “Oh are we going for walkies” look? and started prancing around like an excited show horse, “In a moment, my boy . . . soon . . . ”, I told his excited eyes. I peaked through the partially open shutter front doors and slipped through, quietly telling him to shoo.

What a pleasant surprise. I was welcomed by a thick shroud of mist hovering over the lake, a meter up like a floating vestal virgin in a steaming Roman bath, which rose halfway up the valley and across to the Hottentot Holland mountains in the west. The mist moved continually, helped by the warmth of the rising dawn. Shafts of light from the east pierced the hazy air and immediately shattered into fragments of tiny little light balls and shimmered over the rippling water, caused by the waterfowl life that came to visit this winter’s morning.

I watched amazed and overwhelmed by this sudden surprise.


Just below the sparkling mist, an African Spoonbill was shovelling green algae up its beak in a swaying, side to side movement. Every few seconds the bird would lift its head up to see if there were any predators about. Its darting eyes quickly surveyed the landscape. But inevitably the fragrant green goo was too intoxicating, too delicious and it went back to gobbling the green algae.

Inevitably the moment came when our eyes met – it wasn’t romantic. I stood still on the verandah, frozen as a limestone stalagmite, desperate to vanish into the plaster pillar – to slip invisibly amongst the water reeds and arums lilies, and like a tadpole, then peek above the waterline. He looked uncertain as to what creature I was. I looked back wanting to kick myself.

“Why didn’t I have my camera with me, or even my iPhone?”

Of course any sudden movement would frighten him away. But then being reasonably intelligent, I would wait for the bird to shove his beak in the green slime. Food is a very good distraction when it enters the head. Certainly mine – and I’m sure it’s much the same for an algae shovelling African Spoonbill.

From the corner of my eye, a pair of Reed Cormorants were swimming merrily together like happy lovers out for a jaunt, paddle-boating, totally engrossed in each other. Conversation for the two lovebirds was an incessant chatter, totally oblivious of other life. I wondered what they were saying?

“Lovely day for a swim. No humans about and that wretched dog the human calls Tyson.”
“I absolutely agree with you. It’s so romantic out here. Pity about the invasion of our privacy from that greedy African Spoonbill.”
“Why don’t we go into that thicket over there and have a lovely cuddle?
“Ummm . . . I think I want to make some babies.”


The cormorants babble distracted the African Spoonbill momentarily. Behind the closed front doors, Tyson started to tjank full-tilt – he could smell birdies and lots of them. The Spoonbill swung his head back in my direction . . . I stood cast in stone. The bird was looking at me, full frontal, wondering where the doggy noises where coming from, cocking his head continuously, questioningly with his beady eyes? Just then an alabaster Great White Egret flew in from the west and low into the mist, immediately caught by the fragmented effulgent light above the lake. The gentle beating of its wings – similar to a butterfly swimmer in slow motion, scooping up the air with its long feathers – it slowly glided in. The Spoonbill swung his head towards the incoming forager. Realising he now had to share his breakfast, he immediately stuck his beak into the green algae, gobbling voraciously and as quickly as he could.

The Great White Egret glided through the mist in slow motion like a fairy in a diaphanous white dress. She landed feet first a few meters from the African Spoonbill. Similar in height, they eyed each other suspiciously like Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in War of the Roses. Was I about to witness a bloodbath? Gladly it was not to be. Oliver the farmhand arrived, and I was caught practically naked with only my boxer shorts on.

Both birds took fright of his arrival and flew away. I turned my attention to the beetroot.

I can certify that animals and humans are just as attracted to the aroma of the same food, be it in its raw form or cooked. One of the reasons we built 1-meter high x 2-meter wide planters in front of the cottage was to discourage wild animals or even domestically wandering types in the countryside to come and forage for themselves. From a porcupine’s perspective this, ‘Tower of Babel’ is a problem. However this voracious animal with a bottomless pit for food, who likes to feed constantly, unleashing deep guttural grunts and eliminate incessantly with equal enthusiasm, this is a minor challenge.

The porcupines soon discovered they had access from the verandah, just the obstacle of a few steps to deal with. So I made the decision to plant more beetroot than we needed and with hope resting on my heart, I prayed that each little red orb would have different growth patterns, (they are after all organic) providing us with beetroots over the months to come. However the distraction of the steps, I soon realised, was enough. Aided by the beguilements of the surrounding countryside with its multitudes of tubers, barks and branches was enough to divert the attention for these insatiable eating animals, with the exception of the odd die-hard forager, our beetroot crop was fairly intact.


I quickly went about the business of plucking the beetroot from the rick, dark soil. The red heart-shaped orb can be quite deceptive about its size when it’s buried in the earth. Some like to show their girth and others, mostly, like to lay below the earth’s surface. At a glance I only saw a few displaying their fleshy curves. But ten minutes later, I discovered forty to fifty that were prime ready for the pot. As for the rest, I didn’t dare want to count.

In a moment of panic I sent messages of help to every lover of food I knew. The response was overwhelming. Beetroot Tarte tatin. Beetroot and ginger brownies. Beef and beetroot potjie. Beetroot risotto a la Ricardo from his son Byron. Salmon and beetroot tartare. Beetroot Keftedes. Borscht. Beetroot hummus, and so it continued for the rest of the day. An older friend whose still passionate about life (especially the women in his life) has a daily diet which consists of at least one heart-shaped beetroot orb, prepared in variety of ways, every day. He argues with its high amounts of boron, is directly related to the production of human sex hormones. The Romans would agree with him. The Lupanare, the brothel of Pompeii had its walls decorated in beetroots. However I could never quite work out whether the beetroot was symbolic or whether the sight of it caused excitement in their loins?


Whichever way it was, my conclusion was to create a menu with starters, main and desert throughout the day that all had one thing in common – beetroot. I could see glasses of beetroot, mixed with orange and grapefruit juice. Soup bowls of beetroot gazpacho. Plates of salmon and beetroot tartare. Beetroot tzatziki and hummus. Beetroot ice-cream. If I was to let my mind run wild, all dishes would be served by voluptuous Sophia Loren’s and Claudia Cardinale’s types.

Was I really going to take up this challenge, I asked myself? My secretary in my left brain chirped in, advising me against it.

“You’ll be bored . . . beetroot, beetroot, beetroot . . . you’ll never touch another beetroot for months, maybe even years. You’ll probably throw up at the sight of beetroot!”.

My secretary in my right brain argued back with a guilt trip.

“How could I run away from a gastronomic challenge?” Then suggested, “Why don’t you prepare the beetroot differently and mix the delicious red orb with opposite but dominant flavours? . . . And besides the missus is going to love you having all that beet in your system”

Smugly I told my left brain secretary where to go.


Excited by the thought of a day-long pleasurable experience that may run on for even more days, I started the washing down process. Firstly under the garden tap that fed a flourishing forest of happy English mint.

Living on a farm with a septic tank has its penalties – no funnies to be washed down the sink. Once the mud has been rinsed, the beetroot is now ready for its second cleansing under the taps in the kitchen lab sinks.

It was a quiet day. You could hardly hear the flutter of a Cape Wagtail or the fart the Egyptian Mongoose (whose daily scampering past the kitchen windows drove Tyson dilly). It was a solitude to be enjoyed once the rinsing of the beetroots were done – peace.

Then I heard the beating of large wings. Through the open kitchen window and barely two meters away flew a young Eagle Owl with a wing span of just over half-a-meter. In almost slow motion I watched the bird land a few meters away on the dirt road. It was staring ahead and occasionally cocking it’s head. On the one turn of its head he caught sight of me. Mesmerised we both stared at each other. Then a distraction,

“Woof, Woof, Woof”, barked Tyson.

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The Eagle Owl swiftly cocked its head back at Tyson. It held its ground and started staring at this possible predator. Silently and while I was not the centre of the bird’s attention I quietly slipped out of view. I wanted to see the outcome as Tyson was out of my sight and I hoped that the bird would hold its ground and Tyson wouldn’t do anything stupid. But would I be too late as I fumbled with camera and lenses?

Terror sharpens the senses of smaller animals. Their wits are keener. They notice smaller things – the blink of a dog’s eye, its panting, the speed at which the animal parts the grass it crosses and even the bristling of the animal’s hair. I watched as Tyson, finally bored with barking, charged. The Eagle Owl took flight, passing low over the startled dog and landed ten meters or so away on farm the dirt road. The owl turned and looked at Tyson with its owl round unblinking, eyes. What’s next Mr Dog?

Confused, Tyson did a sharp u-turn like a disorganised show horse and stopped in his tracks. He watched the owl staring back at him with furrowed eyebrows that twitched up and down with bewilderment. Gobsmacked Tyson was at a loss for woofs. This birdie is not running away. Baffled, but I could sense Tyson was reorganising himself, trying to fathom out his next move. It’s simple dog logic. He charged again. And as he did, the Eagle Owl took off and flies over him, landing several meters away on the road almost where he first landed opposite the kitchen window. And again turned and looked at him. I had the distinct impression the owl had a smug look on his face as if to say, “Catch me if you can, Mr Dog”. And so Tyson did try one more time, but by now the young Eagle Owl was bored and he flew up the road to his home in the trees with the barking Tyson following.



There is more to beetroot than pickled beetroot. Although the pickled beetroot brigade in the platteland would no doubt disagree with me. From dips and salads, to baking brownies, tarts and cakes, the one thing I learnt is to roast beetroot and avoid boiling to obtain maximum sweetness. Unless it’s a particular recipe where minimal water is used as in beetroot sauce that goes with steak. Here grated beetroot with butter and very little water is simmered until the liquid has evaporated.

With beetroots restorative powers my favourite way is to juice it with other vegetables or fruit that have their own therapeutic powers making beetroot the perfect detox drink. And besides what else am I going to do with my abundant crop.


This deep magenta pick-me-up has some impressive restorative powers. We all know how honey is known to fight infection. Whereas grapefruit has strong antioxidant properties that can have healing effects on stomach ulcers as well as lowering cholesterol. Minneolas are a hybrid of grapefruit and mandarin with a high content of Vit C, Vit B and Potassium. The latter being very useful in lowering blood pressure. Raspberry are also a rich source of Vit B. The little berries also helps depression. A handful can give you mood an instant lift.

Here there is a nice balance between the sweet and the sour, with the slightly earthy taste of the beetroot juice.

Serves 4

8 minneolas skin peeled
2 large pink or red grapefruit skin peeled
8 fresh beetroots (around 250g), leaves removed
1 large punnet of raspberries
1 large knob of fresh ginger
Honey or maple syrup to taste for sweetness

1 Juice the citrus fruit and set aside.

2 Push the beetroot, raspberries, mineolas, grapefruit and ginger through a juicer. Mix the pressed juice with the clementine and grapefruit juice.

3 If it tastes too tart, mix in a spoonful of honey or maple syrup. Serve straight away.


Kale is a superfood that helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and detoxify your body and brain. This is very useful when you are heading towards being an aged crock like me. Then add ginger, celery, garlic, beetroot and apple and you have a delicious refreshing drink that has the perfect combination of sweet, sour and savoury.

Serves 4

a small bunch of kales leaves
5 celery stalks
3 medium size beetroots
4 Fugi or Gala apples, skin on, cored and quartered
Flesh of 1 orange
half a fresh piece of ginger
3 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of lemon juice

Put all the ingredients through a heavy-duty juicer. chill for a couple of hours and serve.


Here are some pink pick-me-ups that have some impressive restorative powers. The fruit balance the sweet with slightly earthy taste of the beetroot juice wonderfully.

Serves 4

3 medium size beetroots
2 cups of chopped pineapple
Flesh of 2 oranges
a couple of sprigs of rosemary
Half a fresh piece of ginger

Put all the ingredients through a heavy-duty juicer. chill for a couple of hours and serve.


This recipe for beetroot featured in the Guardian newspaper 10 best beetroot recipes. It’s probably the first time I haven’t tweaked or changed a recipe. It absolutely delicious. To quote the Guardian: This brilliant magenta puree dramatically elevates the humble beetroot. It’s simple and cheap to make, too. Use as a dip with warm blinis, cubes of dark, almost chocolatey rye bread, or any good crusty bread.

Serves 8-10

450g fresh beetroot
75g walnuts
8 prunes, pitted
3 tbsp brandy
1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
200ml sour cream or creme fraiche
5g fresh dill
Salt and black pepper
Blinis or dark rye bread, to serve

1 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Scrub the beetroot really well, then place in a roasting tin or ovenproof dish. Cover and bake for between 45 minutes and 1 hour, or until tender. Leave to cool.

2 Tip the walnuts on to a tray and toast for 5-8 minutes, or until just golden. Tip on to a plate and leave to cool.

3 Finely chop the prunes and place them in a small bowl. Pour the brandy into a small pan, bring to the boil and carefully ignite. When the flames have subsided, pour the brandy over the prunes. Soak for about 30 minutes.

4 Squeeze the juice from the lemon, add to half the walnuts and finely grind in a food processor. Crumble or finely chop the remaining walnuts.

5 When the beetroot is cool enough to handle, peel and chop roughly, then tip into the bowl of the food processor. Peel and crush the garlic. Add this to the beetroot, along with the soaked prunes, and whizz until the beetroot is very finely chopped, but not quite pureed. Scrape the beetroot into a bowl, season with salt, pepper and about 2 tbsp lemon juice, adding more to taste.

6 If you are serving blinis, warm them in the oven for 2-3 minutes. Alternatively, cut the bread into squares. Arrange alongside a small serving bowl filled with the beetroot caviar. Chop the dill and sprinkle over the sour cream, top with the crumbled walnuts and serve.


I couldn’t resist and photograph this recipe on an owl plate. Are you smiling? I hope so, because when the first few morsels come in contact with your gustatory tastebuds, they will be grinning.

Serves 4

4 medium fresh beetroot, washed and peeled
1 baby onion
200ml balsamic vinegar
30g of oregano leaves
Olive oil

Feta thinly sliced
30g Basil

1 Heat the oven to 175C. Place the beetroot in a small roasting pan with 125ml of water and 200ml of balsamic vinegar and sprinkle some olive oil and the oregano into the mixture. Stir the beetroot in the juices. Cover with tin foil and cook for about 1 hour, until tender when pierced with a fork. Stir occasionally coating the beetroot with its juices. With 15 minutes left to go, take off the tin foil. Set aside to cool.

2. Finely chop the beetroot, onion and half the basil. Mix the two together and season.

3. Shape with baking rings and place on a plate. This need to be chilled in a fridge for an hour.

4. Place a thinly sliced feta on top and drizzle some of the juices from the baking tin.

5. Lastly place several blueberries on the plate and garnish with a sprig of basil.


Bonnie says, to bake the cake as in the photograph, you need to bake two cakes. The bottom layer in a round baking tin and the top layer in a bundt mould. Grease the tins with baking spray. Then base line the round baking tin with baking paper.

Serves 6 to 8.
Preparation time 25 minutes.
Cooking time 30 minutes

200ml (7fl oz) vegetable oil plus greasing
250g (9oz) caster sugar
3 eggs
200g (7oz) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground mixed spice
3 tsp milk
150g (5oz) raw whole baked beetroot chopped
100g walnuts halves, toasted and chopped, plus extra to decorate
100g (3.5 oz) shelled hazelnuts, toasted and chopped, plus extra to decorate
Edible Glitter to decorate – colour of your choice (I used White for this cake)

Bake peeled beetroot at 200c in a pan with 1-litre of water and 200ml of balsamic vinegar, covered in tin foil until soft. Then let cool and chop into small pieces.

Preheat the oven to 200c (fan 180c/400F/gas mark 6. Grease the 2x tins.
Pour the oil and sugar into a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add eggs and continue mixing until you have a smooth glossy mixture. Sift in the flour, baking powder and mixed spice and fold it until well combined, then add the milk and chopped beetroot. Mix in to incorporate, then finally add the walnuts and hazelnuts.

Divide the mixture into the 2 x prepared tins and bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack. Remove the cakes from the tins, and peel off the paper.and place on a serving plate. Spread the round shaped cake with the Chocolate Ganache Filling, and place the bundt shape cake on top, to sandwich together. Pour the Chocolate ganache Coating over the cake and let it run down the sides of the cake, then sprinkle the top with extra chopped nuts and edible glitter……and voila!


375g (13.5 oz) dark or milk chocolate, chopped
250ml 9 fl oz) cream


1. Assemble ingredients
2. Heat the chopped chocolate and cream together in a bowl in a microwave oven at 20% power or at the defrost setting. Stir at 2-minute intervals until the mixture is melted and smooth.
3. Refrigerate mixture until very cold, or preferably overnight
4. Beat the mixture with a hand-held beater until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes)
5. Spread directly onto cake layers to sandwich the layers together.


450g (3.5 cups) dark, milk or white chocolate, chopped
150ml (1/2 cup or 5.5 fl oz) cream


1. Assemble ingredients
2. Heat the chopped chocolate and cream together in a bowl in a microwave oven at 20% power or at the defrost setting. Stir at 2-minute intervals until the mixture is melted and smooth.
3. Let the mixture cool down to thicken or leave overnight. If the mixture is too solid, slowly heat again in a microwave oven at 20% power or at the Defrost setting for 1-minute intervals and stir until it has softened to a spreadable consistency.
4. Pour directly over the top of the cake, letting the chocolate run down the cake