Friday, 18 April 2014

Spiced Parsnip Birthday Cake (with Cashew and Coconut Cream Icing)

It was my husband's birthday the other week and I always make him a birthday cake of some sort... His favourite is carrot cake with cream cheese icing but I wanted to make something a bit different this year. I had wanted to use parsnip in a cake for a while and as we had a large bounty in our veggie box I thought now was the time to experiment. Parsnips contain a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, including dietary fibre, folate, potassium and vitamin C. They are very similar to using carrot in a cake as they add sweetness so I only needed to add a little bit of extra sweetness in the form of coconut sugar and maple syrup. The texture of the cake is loads better if you can take the time to grate the parsnips really finely. The sponge will be much lighter and the flavour of parsnip will be more even.
I personally am not a big fan of the cream cheese icing that you get with carrot cake, I find it a bit heavy so I decided instead to make a cashew and coconut cream icing. This is really yummy and creamy but totally dairy free (this also makes a really nice spread for something banana bread or fruit loaf).

Spiced Parsnip Cake

300g parsnips (peeled and very finely grated)
1 lemon (juice and zest)
250g white spelt flour
75g coconut sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 Tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g maple syrup
100ml hot water
3 eggs
50ml melted coconut oil

Preheat the oven and line and grease a 17cm round cake tin.
In a large bowl add the flour, sugar, spices, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Then mix in the parsnips and lemon zest and juice.
In a separate bowl whisk the maple syrup and hot water together then add the oil. Next crack in the eggs and whisk until frothy.
Pure the egg and syrup mixture into your dry ingredients and very gently fold. Be careful not too over mix at this stage. Then pour the mix into your cake tin.
Bake for around 45 - 55mins. Make sure you test to see if the cake is done before removing it from the oven (a knife should come out clean when inserted to the centre of the cake). Allow to cool a little then place the cake on a wire rack and slice horizontally into 3 layers. While the cake cools you can make the icing.

Cashew and Coconut Cream Icing:

2 cups of cashew nuts (soaked in water overnight)
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1 Tsp lemon juice
Whole almonds to decorate

Strain the cashew nuts and add to a blender with the rest of the ingredients (omitting the whole almonds). Whiz until the mixture is really smooth and creamy. This could take a bit of time... I have a very old blender so it takes a good 5mins of blending. But it is worth it! You will be left with a rich and creamy icing. Place in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the cake. Then simply sandwich your layers of cake together leaving some extra icing for the top. Then decorate with almonds - Enjoy!

Little Note:

I used a smaller cake tin then normal because I wanted to do a three tier cake. The mixture does come up a little high in the tin and could bubble over a little while it is baking. You can prevent this by simply making a couple of cupcakes with some of the mixture!
If you decide to use a large more standard size cake tin (say 23cm round) then it does mean that it will take a little longer to cook in the oven. As it will be a thinner cake just slice the cake in half and use the same amount of icing above. The cake will probably not need as long in the oven... worth checking after 35mins.
Soaking the cashew nuts for the icing over night will make them a lot easier to blend into a smooth cream. If you don't have time to soak overnight a couple of hours would still help.
You could use carrots instead of parsnips in this recipe but do have a go with the parsnips if you can. They lend a really subtle sweet flavour to the cake.

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