The combination of parsnip, pear and ginger might raise a few eyebrows but this deeply flavoured cake hovers around the same region as a fruity, moist carrot cake.
By Helena Berthon
Two of your five-a-day in a cake – it’s almost almost a health food. This spiced fruit and vegetable cake is the best of both worlds: health and happiness. The base of parsnip and pear give the sponge an honest, earthy depth that’s a natural partner for the oil-rich hazelnuts and spelt flour. Ginger is a zingy wonder food with anti-inflammatory properties to soothe those post-gym muscles, and adds a warmth and kick to the unassuming sponge.
- 250g (9 ounces) pears and parsnips, peeled, cored and grated
- 20g (1 ounce) fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 100g (3.5 ounces) raisins, soaked in hot water
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 150g (5.3 ounces) plain spelt flour, sifted
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 150g (5.3 ounces) ground hazelnuts (or almonds)
- 3 eggs
- 150g (5.3 ounces) light brown sugar
- 125ml (4 ounces) olive oil
- 60g (2 ounces) soft unsalted butter
- 100g (3.5 ounces) full-fat cream cheese
- 125g (4.5 ounces) icing sugar, sifted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Chopped hazelnuts to decorate
- Grease and line a 23cm/9 inch spring-form or loose-bottomed cake tin. Preheat your oven to 180°C.(350°F)
- Use kitchen roll or a clean tea towel to squeeze out any excess moisture from the grated pear and parsnip. Mix together in a bowl with the drained plumped up raisins, ginger, lemon juice and zest.
- In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar with an electric whisk until very light and airy, about 5 minutes on a high speed. Then beat in the oil to incorporate.
- Sieve in the spelt flour, ground ginger and cinnamon, baking powder and ground hazelnuts or almonds and fold in gently to combine. Add the pear and parsnip mix and combine.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level out.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then remove from the tin to cool completely on a wire rack.
- For the cream cheese icing, beat the butter with an electric whisk for 4-5 minutes, then add the cream cheese and beat for another 2 minutes.
- Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat slowly until combined before increasing the speed and beating until smooth and evenly mixed.
- Spread the frosting over the top of the cake and sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts.