Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and line and grease a baking tin 32cm x 22cm x 5cm.
Whisk the sugar with the orange zest until fragrant.
Add the melted butter and mix until thoroughly combined.
Beat in the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, salt and black pepper.
Fold the flour into the wet ingredients one third at a time.
Add the beetroot, carrot, apple, sultanas and pecans and fold until completely combined.
Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake for about 60-70 minutes. Check after about 25 minutes to see if the cake is browning too much. If so, place foil loosely over the top.
Cream Cheese Buttercream
Cream the butter until soft then add the icing sugar and mix for about 10 minutes until very light and fluffy.
Add the salt and vanilla and mix again to combine.
Finally beat in the cream cheese until the buttercream is smooth. Pipe onto the finished cake.
Place the pecans on a baking tray and bake at 170°C for 10 minutes, remove, roughly chop the nuts and set aside.
Pour the sugar in an even layer into a medium sized saucepan. Place on a gentle heat and watch carefully as the sugar caramelises. Shake the saucepan every now and then to promote an even caramelisation.
Once the sugar has completely melted and turned a golden brown, add the salt then pour in the pecans and quickly turn over into the sugar with a silicone spatula so they are all coated.
Pour the praline immediately onto baking parchment into an even layer and leave to cool. Once cool, chop roughly then use to decorate the cake.
Candied Carrot and Beetroot
Pour the water and sugar into a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Then turn down to a simmer for 2 minutes.
Add the carrot and beetroot and leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Strain the carrot and beetroot and pat dry.
Place on a baking parchment lined tray and bake at 140°C for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Then use to decorate the cake.