Inspired by our partner the National Garden Scheme, this summer we ran a recipe competition.

Chocolate and Beetroot Traybake

We were looking for entries that included ingredients seasonal for the time of year and that you may find in your garden.

Our winner, Alyson, sent us her recipe for a Chocolate and Beetroot Traybake. Alyson’s use of baking to bring happiness to her family and local community is a truly inspiring way to use your culinary talents and we wanted to share her story.

Alyson trained as a chef and now works at Carers Trust East Midlands, working with a team of carer support workers in the community and her local carers group. She often runs cooking and baking demonstrations for them and one Christmas, with a group of volunteers, created 400 walnut whip snowmen, Santa Clauses, angels and penguins to raise money for charity.

Alyson tells us that she loves baking and has been interested in it since the age of eight. Her family are also big fans of Alyson’s sweet treats and can often be caught sneaking samples!

I get annoyed when people say they haven’t got time to bake and buy from supermarkets. If you bake it yourself- you know what’s in it. I bake for my family they are always raiding my cake tins and taking away tubs of cakes.”

Alyson deserves the recognition she’s getting for her efforts to cheer up those around her with her baking: “My mum who I cared for until she died 18 months ago from Alzheimer’s was very partial to my cakes and pastries and loved it when I took her a weekly selection.” 

Carers Trust has been supported by the National Garden Scheme for over 20 years and we have been working with them to highlight the positive link between spending time outdoors and mental health and wellbeing. The National Garden Scheme opens private gardens around the country for charity. Throughout the summer there are various allotments and kitchen gardens that open their gates and this is what helped us set the theme for our competition.

We want to thank everyone who took the time to enter our seasonal recipe competition and also congratulate our runners up, Rhea and Christine, for their wonderful recipes!

If you would like to try Alyson’s traybake for yourself then find the recipe below – staff in Carers Trust’s London office have already baked it and we can report that it truly is delicious.

Chocolate and Beetroot Traybake


50g cocoa powder
175g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
200g caster sugar
250g cooked beetroot (packet of cooked beetroot works well)
3 medium eggs
200ml sunflower oil
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
Icing sugar to dust


  1. Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C, grease and line the bottom of a 9” (23cm) spring-form cake tin or 8” x 10” (20cm x 25cm) 
  2.  Sieve the cocoa, flour, baking powder and sugar into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Drain and chop the beetroot, then blend in a food processor. With the machine running, add the eggs one at a time, then pour in the oil. Blend the mixture until the liquid is just smooth.
  4. Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix in the chocolate. Pour into the tin and cook for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes, then turn out and leave to cool. Dust the cake with icing sugar before serving.

This recipe is freezable.