This might sound a bit wacky, but I promise you it works. Baking cakes with parsnip is no different really from carrot cakes. The cupcake recipe in my calendar for this month was simply a ginger one, but I’d been meaning to have a go at parsnip cake after the success of my chocolate beetroot cake, and I thought the flavour combination of parsnip and ginger would work well. With all the chocolate hanging around at the moment (that makes it sound like the chocolate needs an ASBO – I can assure you that it doesn’t!), these provide a lighter and different alternative.
Apart from the addition of parsnip, I changed the recipe quite a bit from the calendar one: I only put a small amount of sugar in, a third of what it says on the calendar, as the parsnip adds sweetness and I wanted to make some smaller ones to be toddler-friendly as well as some big adult-sized ones with icing on; I added some stem ginger, because in my opinion, if you’re going to have ginger, you might as well have proper chunks of fiery ginger rather than just ground stuff; I used honey instead of syrup, as usual; I made a few other changes too – so it’s nothing like the original really!
The instructions on the calendar said use a cake mixer. I don’t usually bother with one when baking, unless I’m whisking egg whites (I don’t enjoy the muscle ache afterwards when I do it by hand!), mainly because I don’t have one of those super duper fancy gadgets they have on the Great British Bake Off, just a small handheld one that cost about a fiver from Wilkos when I was a student many years ago. But as the calendar put the idea into my head, I was curious to see how the cakes worked out, particularly as I was guessing it would be quite a dense, moist mixture and therefore any extra air I could beat into it would not go amiss. As I suspected, even with the aerating skills of the electric mixer, the cakes didn’t rise massively, but I like the sticky, moist texture anyway, as is often the case with carrot cakes. I would say it’s fine to use either hand or machine in this recipe – whatever mood you happen to be in.
I think that’s all I wanted to waffle on about, so here’s what you do if you want to have a go yourself. Enjoy! Tom’s verdict: de-scrump-tu-licious!
Cakes – makes 10-12 big plus 10-12 small
- 250g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 175g margarine
- 120ml milk
- 40g brown sugar
- 4 tbsp honey
- 1 large parsnip
- 50g stem ginger, plus extra for decoration
- 50g margarine
- 100g icing sugar
- splash of ginger syrup from the stem ginger jar
- Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC (fan) and prepare a muffin tin with cupcake cases and a fairy cake tin with cases.
- Grate the parsnip, and chop the stem ginger into small chunks.
- With a spoon, mix the flour and ground spices in a large bowl.
- Put all the other ingredients apart from the parsnip and stem ginger into the bowl and mix with a mixer until well combined.
- Add the parsnip and stem ginger and fold in with a spoon until evenly distributed.
- Fill the cake cases to about three quarters full.
- Bake for about 25 minutes until golden on top and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- Meanwhile, mix the ingredients together for the icing until smooth.
- Put into a piping bag and pipe onto the cooled cakes (big ones only!) in whatever design you wish.
- Finish with a small chunk of stem ginger on top. Perfect!