Sunday 6 February 2011

Parsnip, Apple & Orange Pecan Cake with Maple Mascarpone Frosting (GF)

This cake may well be the best cake I have made in weeks…months…possibly even all year! I know that’s an incredibly bold statement, but eat a slice of this cake and you’ll see where I’m coming from. It’s moist, slightly sticky, sweet and jam packed full of flavour. It’s fruity, a little nutty and filled with a luxuriously creamy maple mascarpone frosting.

Parsnips in a cake may sound like an odd idea, but they are sweeter than carrots and they often make an appearance in baked goods. Just as with carrot cake, you don’t take a bite of this cake and think ‘parsnips’ they are there to add a natural sweetness and incredible moist texture. Apple and orange also lend their juicy sweetness and it’s actually the flavour of the orange and spices that hit you first, before all the other flavours and textures pop up. The mascarpone frosting is only slightly sweetened with the maple syrup, retaining a lot of its cooling creamy smoothness which leaves a wonderful rich and decadent feeling in your mouth that has you clamoring for another bite.

The texture of the sponge is moist and slightly dense, but in a gorgeous sticky fruity way. You can see from the slices that this doesn’t prevent it from being a light, springy cake. It needs that little bit of substance to support and balance the combination of flavours.

I made this cake for my mum’s birthday last week. I actually found this recipe a year ago, just after her last birthday, and have been sitting on it for a year, waiting for parsnips to come back into season and for her birthday to roll round again. It was definitely worth the wait and due to its moist texture, a simple flour substitution was all that was required to make it gluten free. Best cake ever!

Parsnip, Apple & Orange Pecan Cake with Maple Mascarpone Frosting (GF)
(Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food)
175g butter
200g light soft brown sugar
100g golden syrup
3 eggs
250g Doves gluten free self raising flour (or regular flour)
2tsp gluten free baking powder
2tsp mixed spice
250g parsnips (about 2 large)
125g eating apple (I used Cox)
50g pecan nuts
Zest and juice 1 orange

Maple Mascarpone Frosting
250g mascarpone cheese
2tbsp maple syrup
3-4tbsp milk

For the Cake
Heat oven to 180C. Grease and line two 8inch/20cm sandwich tins.
Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup together in a large pan over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, Peel the parsnips and coarsely grate them along with the apple (you can leave the skin on but remove the core). Roughly chop the pecans and finely grate the zest from the orange.
Using a large spatula, whisk the eggs into the melted sugar mixture, then stir in the flour, baking powder and mixed spice. Add the parsnip, apple, pecans and orange zest. Squeeze in the juice from the zested orange and mix well.
Divide the batter between the tins (it will be quite full) and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and the tops spring back when pressed lightly.
Allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

For the Frosting
Place the mascarpone in a bowl and leave for 15 minutes to warm to room temperature.
Add the maple syrup and beat together until well incorporated. Add enough milk so that you achieve a thick, yet spreadable consistency.
Place one cake layer on a serving plate and place spoonfuls of the frosting over the surface. Use a knife to spread the frosting out into an even layer, right to the edges of the cake.
Top with the second cake layer and dust the top lightly with icing sugar.
Serve in generous slices. The cake becomes even moister and stickier the following day.


Chele said...

Fantastic looking cake Katie, love that icing too. I'm still to branch out into the whole vegetable in cakes and bakes (apart from carrot cake which was my first ever post!) but this cake looks so impressive I think I may need to try this recipe sooner rather than later!

Suelle said...

Is this a version of the recipe on the Good Food site? I've been contemplating that since I first saw it - just waiting for the right occasion!

Yours looks delicious.

Katie said...

Hi Suelle,
Yes its from the BBC Good Food magazine

Brownieville Girl said...

What a beautiful texture Katie.

Happy Birthday to your Mum.

Monica H said...

I bet your mum was thrilled with this one. This sounds absolutely delicious to me and I love that it's sandwiched with creamy mascarpone cheese!

Anonymous said...

i would never have thought of using parsnips in baking, but i think you just have convinced me!

The Caked Crusader said...

The sponge looks amazing - I've seen recipes using parsnips and figured they would be as successful as carrot cake but it's nice to hear that's the case!
The sponge is a beautiful colour too

Caroline said...

What a beautiful cake! I love that you left the sides plain - the cake can really stand on its own! I should really try this, I just recently made a carrot cake that was well-received, so maybe it's time to expand my horizons into new veggies in baked goods! (I typically only use carrots and zucchini!)

Jory said...

Nice cake looks delicious,.

Johanna GGG said...

bookmarking this - parsnips will be in season in a few months but it sounds like it is worth keeping the recipe for when they are at their best

Elle said...

Never though of using parsnips,but it makes sense, especially around this time of year. It looks and sounds soooo wonderful! Will bookmark it for next time I need a cake...which could be very soon.