I made this cake as an alternative to the parsnip, maple syrup and rosemary combinations you always see splattered across Christmas menus. These flavours are typically teamed with big, meaty winter dishes but personally that doesn’t work for me and I think they work equally well in a cake. I could eat carrot cake until it came out my ears, but sweet roots parsnips will do the job too.
175g unsalted butter
200g soft light brown sugar
250g self-raising flour
100ml maple syrup
few sprigs of rosemary
250g parsnip (peeled)
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
1.5 teaspoon cinnamon
1.5 teaspoon nutmeg
250g FULL-FAT cream cheese
62g icing sugar
generous sprinkling of poppy seeds
1. Melt the butter and sugar over low heat in a pan, beating them together slowly into a dark liquid. Add the maple syrup and some generous sprigs of rosemary. Tear the leaves into smaller pieces before you add them and don’t add the hard stalks. How much rosemary you add is up to you, I kept adding until I was satisfied with the sweet herby smell coming from the simmering pan.
2. Leave the mixture to cool then whisk 3 eggs into the liquid mixture. Transfer to a mixing bowl and gently add the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon a bit at a time. Fold in the dry ingredients a little at a time in sweeping figure of 8 movements.
3. Preheat the oven to 180*C. Peel and grate 250g of parsnips and add to the mixture. Next peel and core one apple, and again grate the pieces and stir into the cake mix. Add the zest of one orange and the 3/4 of it’s juice to the mix. Lastly stir in 50g of roughly chopped pecans, making sure they are thoroughly distributed through the mixture.
4. Spoon the mixture into a cake tin. Alternatively, there is enough mix here to make a sandwich cake and put a little frosting in the middle of the 2 halves. Bake for 30 mins at 180*C then turn the temperature down to 150*C for a further 30-45 minutes. A knife should come out almost clean when poked in to the cake as veggie cakes will always retain some moisture. You may need to make a foil hat for your cake as it bakes to stop the top browning too much.
5. Leave the cake to cool before frosting
6. The frosting is dead easy to make. Spoon the cream cheese into a bowl and gently stir it until it looses its block like texture and becomes smooth, almost like a greek yoghurt. Sieve and stir in the icing sugar a little at a time. Add the zest of one orange and a generous sprinkling of poppy seeds. They give nice texture but I also think they look nice. Spread generously over the cake.
7. Decorate the top of the cake with whole pecans if you fancy. I also thought an artily placed sprig of rosemary might look nice.