January 31st, 2014
I must admit that I’m not very skilled when it comes to proper cake making. I could tell you about several disasters, like that time when my cake unexplainably exploded all over the refrigerator, or that other time when the cake fell on the floor right as I opened the refrigerator door, or I could mention many of my multilayered cake creations that sadly leaned to one side like the Tower of Pisa, or about the beautiful pink icing (Paloma’s birthday request) that discolored and became brown right before serving. Each time these kinds of things happen, I swear to never make cake again but never stick to my resolutions. And every time a cake I make actually comes out well, I find it to be enough reason to celebrate and dig right in.
Carrot cake is the darling of the cake world, what’s not to love? It’s classic and simple. But how about parsnips, the carrot’s albino cousins that show up among other hearty winter root veggies this time of year? I grew up snacking on raw parsnips right from the garden, and they were a mandatory ingredient in my mom’s famous borsch. I also love a good parsnip mash as a side dish to anything. This time the parsnips went into a dessert – a fairly simple cake topped with home candied kumquats.
I find the candied kumquats essential to experience the full flavor of this cake. If you can’t find kumquats, substitute with Meyer lemons, sour oranges or any other candied citrus. This was my very first time working with kumquats, and I can attest to their perfect balance of sweet, sour and orangey notes that make for a beautiful cake topping or marmalade. And take a look at more kumquat recipes over at my latest food blog crush, Princess Tofu, here, here and here.
Many thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments on the Wholistic Chakra system giveaway. It has now been closed and the winner (The Rose Journals) has been emailed. Elena of Wholistic drew the winner herself!
¾ cup honey
½ cup water
1 vanilla bean – seeds scraped out
2 pints (about 4 cups) of kumquats – sliced
In a small to medium saucepan, combine honey with water, vanilla seeds and bean, bring to a gentle boil. Add in the kumquats and bring back to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool down and keep the kumquats in the syrup, refrigerated.
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
2 packages of plain Tofutti cream cheese
fat from 1 can full-fat unsweetened Thai coconut milk
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
generous squeeze of lemon juice
Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. The fat and water should separate and fat should accumulate on top. Carefully scoop it out and combine with the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Beat it with a hand mixer until well combined and fluffy. Keep refrigerated while baking the cake.
Gluten Free and Vegan Parsnip Cake
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
¼ cup ground chia seeds or flax seeds
¾ cup (105 g) buckwheat flour
¾ cup (90 g) millet flour
¾ cup (90 g) tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup coconut sugar
1 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
about 3 cups grated parsnips
1 ½ cups walnuts or pecans – chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Bring almond milk to a boil, mix with ground chia in a large mixing bowl. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes.
2. Combine all the flours, baking powder and soda, salt and spices in a mixing bowl, set aside.
3. Add sugar to the milk-chia mixture and mix using a hand-mixer. Continue by adding in olive oil and vanilla extract, then orange zest and juice. Mix to combine thoroughly with a hand mixer.
4. Add dry ingredients into the wet, mixing them in with the mixer.
5. Fold in the parsnips and walnuts.
6. Prepare a 6-inch cake pan or a spring form. If using a cake pan, cover it with parchment paper. I using a spring form, generously grease it with olive or coconut oil.
7. Spoon ⅓ of the batter at a time into the pan/form and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Repeat with the other two thirds. You can also bake two 8-inch cakes if you don’t have a 6-inch pan, or even bake all the batter at once like a thick cake (you may need to increase the baking time in this case) and then cut the cake into layers horizontally. Make sure that the cakes are completely cool before cutting or frosting them.
8. Place one layer of the cake onto a cake stand or plate. Generously cover with a layer of cream cheese frosting and a thin layer of candied kumquats. Carefully place a second layer of the cake on top following by another frosting and kumquat layers. Finish with the third cake layer and frost the entire cake.
9. Garnish with candied kumquats and let the cake rest in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. Slice and serve with more candied kumquats.
Note: Candied citrus is essential to the flavour of this cake. If you can’t get kumquats, candy Meyer lemons, sour oranges or other citrus.