Our boys are obsessed with asking if I've added vegetables to cakes ("Does this have vegetables in it?" they ask of any cake, regardless of appearance). So when I saw this recipe for Burnt butter parsnip cake
by Helen Goh, I just had to make it so I could say, "Yes" when they asked. I made this cake on an incredibly hot day for a gathering of people who were a remarkable support to us during a difficult 2018. It is worth making Burnt butter parsnip cake for the reaction (expect curious facial expressions) when you tell friends it's parsnip cake, but mostly for the delicious nutty texture and intriguing, delicate flavour layers from aniseed powder, and currants, to grated parsnip and white chocolate icing. It gives me great pleasure to share Helen Goh's recipe. I hope you enjoy making (and eating) it as the weather cools off. Meanwhile, my goal of making Burnt butter parsnip cake from homegrown parsnips wanes as grasshoppers devour seedlings emerging in continuing 35C days. It will be back to the grocer.
Ingredients: Cake. 350g unsalted butter, 3 large eggs at room temperature, 225g caster sugar, 190g plain flour, 1 tsp cinnamon powder, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp aniseed powder, 3/4 tsp salt, 450g parsnips (about 3 large) coarsely grated, 200g pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped, 100g currants, 1 orange zested. Icing. 200g quality white chocolate, roughly chopped, 75g butter, soft but not oily, 280g cream cheese, 270ml double cream, 1/8 tsp maple extract.
Method: Preheat oven to 200C (180C fan-forced) and grease and line two 23cm round cake tins. Brown the butter, placing it in a saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, continue to cook until the butter is foaming. Swirl the pan gently until you see dark brown sediment beginning to form on the sides and bottom of the pan. Let it bubble until it's a rich golden brown. Remove from heat and allow the burnt solids to collect at the bottom of the pan, then strain through a fine sieve or muslin, discarding the solids. Using an electric mixer, with whisk attachment if possible, beat the eggs and sugar on high speed for 2 minutes until thick and creamy. Reduce the speed and add 280ml of burnt butter in a steady stream (saving the excess for another use). Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, aniseed powder, and salt together in a bowl and add to the mixer on low speed. Fold in the grated parsnip, 150g of pecans (saving the rest for garnish), currants, and orange zest. Divide the mixture evenly between the two lined tins and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer placed in the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from cakes from the oven and cool completely before assembling. For the icing, place the white chocolate in a bowl (or double boiler) set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir gently until melted, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Place softened butter in the bowl of the cake mixer and beat (with a paddle attachment if available) until smooth, then add the cream cheese. Combine, then add the melted chocolate. Beat until smooth, then add the cream and maple extract, and beat until soft waves form. When ready to assemble place one cake on a serving plate. spread a third of the icing evenly on top, then place the second cake on top of that, spreading the top with another third of the icing, then cover the sides of the cake evenly with the remaining icing. Finely chop remaining pecans and sprinkle around the edge of the cake.
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