First of all, I am very happy to share the good news that the Manor Arms picked up the Highly Commended award in the pub of the year category in the Visit Worcestershire awards for excellence.

This is a great endorsement of the whole team – everyone puts so much effort into making the Manor a fantastic place to visit.

I am often asked about vegan and gluten-free options – especially when it comes to cakes.

Although it might seem hard to produce a luscious cake without eggs or butter, the recipe below shows that the impossible is possible! It’s also gluten-free, with polenta and almond taking over the role of flour.

When we think of using a vegetable in a cake, carrot or, at a pinch, courgette, is what comes to mind. However, veggies such as parsnip and beetroot are great to use in baking too, and the latter creates a lovely, rich autumnal berry dappling throughout the cake.

The syrup over the top makes the cake zing thanks to a generous grating of zest – which keeps its tangy flavour beautifully throughout the baking process.

MORE: Apple Terrine With Nut Crumble, Molasses And Caramelised Hazelnuts

Beetroot and orange polenta cake

200ml oil, 50/50 olive oil and sunflower oil

120ml agave syrup

6 tbsp aquafaba (strained liquid from a can of white beans or chickpeas)

200g ground almonds

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 medium beetroot, raw, peeled, washed and grated

Zest of 2 oranges

Juice of 1 orange

175g polenta flour

2.5tsp baking powder

pinch of salt (optional)

1 orange, skinned and sliced,

Preheat the oven to gas 3/160C

Grease a 230mm loose bottomed cake tin with a little oil and line with greaseproof

In a large bowl whisk the oil with the syrup and add the ground seeds and aquafaba and whisk again.

Mix all the dry ingredients together and gently add to the oil and syrup mix. Fold in to combine

Add the beetroot, zest and orange juice and stir in

Pour into the cake tin and place the orange slices around the top. Sprinkle with a little golden caster sugar and bake for between 60 to 75 minutes until golden brown and a knife inserted comes out clean.

Release the cake ring and allow to cool.

Drizzle over the syrup and serve


Zest and juice of 1 orange

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

100g caster sugar

2 star anise (optional)

Place the ingredients into a small pan and heat gently until all the sugar has dissolved.

Turn up the heat and bring to the boil.

Cook for 3 or 4 minutes until the syrup has thickened (and coats the back of a spoon)

Turn off and cool. Remove the star anise before serving.