Perfect Dark Fruit Cake with Dry Sherry and Beetroot

by Leah Halmagyi


  • 1.3kg mixed dried fruits
  • 1 cup dark rum
  • 1½ cups plain flour
  • 1½ cups rye flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 Tbsp beetroot powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 450g dark brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 tsp almond essence
  • 1 tsp cinnamon essence
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ½ cup lime marmalade


Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 5½ hours
Serves: 12-20

1 Preheat oven to 130°C. Combine the fruit and rum in a lidded container, mix well, and refrigerate for 1 week, stirring at least once every day.
2 Sift the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, beetroot powder and spices into a large bowl. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 10 minutes, until very light.
3 Put the eggs, vanilla, essences and molasses in a second bowl and whisk until smooth. Add to the butter while beating on low speed. Once smooth, add to the flour bowl and stir thoroughly.
4 Fold in the dried fruit and marmalade, then spoon into two lined 23cm cake tins. Bake for 5½ hours, until firm to touch. Cool completely in the tin.
COOK’S NOTES: Beetroot powder is both a beautiful rich deep-red colour, and has a delicate earthy flavour. You’ll find it in health food stores, or in the nature foods aisle of your supermarket.