04 May 2008

Parsnips in a Cake?

Why yes! And they taste delicious in this fruity spice cake from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts. Well, to be truthful, I couldn't tell they were there. Instead, I tasted the raisins, pineapple, and spices. I've made quite a few adjustments to "Anna's Country Spice Cake," but I'd bet I captured the spirit of this cake.

Why would one want to eat parsnips in the first place? Well, for one thing, they are very high in vitamin C and folic acid. Parsnips also provide a lot of fiber and potassium to their eaters. Overall, this white root has more bang for the buck than it's cousin the carrot. So, if you want to make a carrot cake, rethink it in favor of the humble parsnip.

Speaking of cakes, this one reminds me a LOT of a carrot cake, but without the carroty flavor. Next time, I'll make it with fruit-sweetened cranberries instead of raisins. Raisins seem too sweet to me these days. The best part about the cake is that it is moist and light, despite all the liquid and seemingly heavy ingredients. It seems like it could easily do without the eggs in order to veganize it. Just substitute the appropriate amount of flaxseed meal.

Finally, I used a 7 x 11 in. pan instead of the 8 in. square pan called for in the recipe. This yielded a much shorter baking time, even at a lower temperature.

Here's the recipe as I made it:

Inspired by "Anna's Country Spice Cake" from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts.


2.5 oz vegetable oil (a tablespoon shy of the 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in the original)
scant 3/4 cup agave nectar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups peeled and grated parsnips
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup crushed pineapple (do not drain; this is contrary to the original)
3/4 cup minus two tablespoons white flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (I mistakenly left this out -- it was fine without it)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnut pieces


1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Oil the pan and dust it with flour. (I'd like to say this made a difference, even with the non-stick pan I used, but it didn't. You're probably better off just lining your pan with parchment paper.)
2. Beat the oil, agave, and eggs until well combined.
3. Mix in the parsnips.
4. Mix in the lemon zest and crushed pineapple.
5. In a separate bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients except the raisins and nuts. Mix until combined.
6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in two batches until there isn't any more dry mix.
7. Fold in the nuts and raisins.
8. Pour the batter into your pan and bake for 35 minutes, until a wooden skewer comes out clean.

Just a tip, be sure to pay attention to the oven temperature. If it winds up in the 330s, lower the temperature so that it averages around 315.



Anonymous said...

Sounds fabulous! I used to buy a parsnip loaf at the organic market near my home--very much like a carrot cake, as you say. Yum!

Jessica "Su Good Sweets" said...

Darn it! I was just about to make parsnip cake. You beat me to it.

Deb Schiff said...

:) Thanks, Jessica. By the way, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your blog. Such beautiful photos!

CookiePie said...

Hi Deb - thanks so much for visiting my blog! WOW - parsnip cake - that sounds amazing. I absolutely LOVE parsnips, so this is very intriguing. I'll have to try it! It looks beautiful too - I bet the cranberries will be delicious in there.

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, CookiePie!

Last night when I served the cake, it had deepened in flavor quite a bit. It's light, yet moist. I'll be making this one again very soon.

heather (errantdreams) said...

"Raisins seem too sweet to me these days."

That could so be me talking. I've found myself substituting tart currents or dried cranberries in almost everything lately!

Deb Schiff said...

Hey Heather. Thanks for stopping by! I really enjoyed visiting your Errant Dreams reviews blog. Neato!

I was surprised that raisins seemed so sweet, but they do. I might have to make lots of oatmeal raisin cookies for friends to use them up!

It's tough to find fruit-sweetened cranberries or even unsweetened ones that are dried, but every once in a while I find them and buy a bunch. They're delicious!