Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Healthy carrot or parsnip cake

This one's for Mrs Green and her Abel & Cole veg box parsnips :)

This cake is brilliant! For a start it is fat, egg and dairy free, so not only is it vegan, but it needs no fresh ingredients (apart from carrots!) and has fewer containers to dispose of afterwards. As you simmer and steep the carrots, old ones work fine. You can also substitute parsnips for a more golden-yellow colour and subtler taste (I tried this and gave it out to friends - they all loved it and couldn't guess the secret ingredient!). All the other ingredients are store cupboard favourites, with lots of scope for variation according to taste. It's dense and satisfying and keeps well. It also cooks well as cupcakes or muffins. What's not to like?!

The original recipe is in cups as it's from an American book, the Moosewood Book of Desserts (Moosewood is a famed vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, NY). I have a set of measuring cups so I have never converted it to grams, but I recommend this website for ingredient-specific volume/weight conversions. I will try and make one of these and confirm the conversions soon!

Carrot or parsnip cake

2 cups [~250g] (packed) finely grated carrots (or pasrnips)
1.5 cups [~330g] packed brown sugar*
1.75 cups [400ml] water
1 cup [150-200g] raisins or other dried fruit (chopped to raisin size) - apricots and ginger are good with carrots, cranberries go well with parsnips
1 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups [375g] plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
0.25 tsp ground cloves
0.5 tsp ground nutmeg or fresh grated
0.5 tsp ground ginger (or grate a thumb size piece of fresh and put it in with the carrots)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

*this is the original recipe amount of sugar, but it can be reduced (even halved!).

Combine carrots/parsnips, sugar, water, fruit and vanilla in a saucepan - bring to the boil, simmer for 5 mins, remove from heat, cover, sit for at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 300F / 150C / Gas 2. Oil and flour a 9-10" round pan or equivalent.

Sift flour, spices, salt, baking soda and powder together into a bowl. Stir carrot/parsnip mix into dry mix just until no dry traces are left.

Pour into pan, bake until firm and a skewer comes out clean - about 1 hr.

Cool in pan for 10 mins, then invert onto a plate. Dust with icing sugar.


  1. Wow! that sounds absolutely disgusting! So much so, that I have to try it just to be proven wrong.

    I can't imagine a nice cake without lots of butter and some eggs in it! I'm intrigued, so thank you for thinking of us!

    I'll let you know how we get on ;)

  2. How can it be disgusting with sugar and lots of yummy fruit and spices? :) I await the verdict!

  3. Thanks for this recipe Katy. We ate our last parsnips in a sausage casserole this evening so I shall have to wait until our next vegetable box delivery to try it out.

    Last week a colleague brought in a trayful of chocolate brownies made using beetroot. They were delicious. It's a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe and can be found at http://www.channel4.com/food/recipes/chefs/hugh-fearnley-whittingstall/chocolate-and-beetroot-brownies-recipe_p_1.html.

  4. Oh dear Gai, what have you done? :) They look fab, I'll have to try them!

  5. I do wonder about this cake.. :)

    hmm.. :))

    Could it be done with leftovers from juicing the carrots/beetroots too? (or at least partly those & partly new carrots?) hmm..

  6. Tried this today and was great with parsnips and dried cranberries. Texture like a muffin so will use as a muffin mix next. Try it! Can't believe so good without eggs or fat.