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Is Every Day a Cake Day? Let’s Cowgirl Up to the Bounty of Parsnips

Well, I don’t know, but today was definitely a cake day. Howling wind and lashing rain outside, dark inside and a fire lit in the stove.

Fire in woodburning stove

Some of you may know that I’m fond of a culinary experiment.

By the way, as a final update on the mince pies with real meat (an ancient tradition which I wanted to resurrect), the general verdict was good, though there seemed to be confusion about when would be the best time to eat them. They didn’t seem quite right at traditional tea time and my sister C reacted slightly uneasily to one from the second batch saying erm, they’re very muttony and put hers aside. But my aunt and cousin had two each and seemed impressed. Let’s face it you wouldn’t have two pies if you were just being polite would you? I thought they were ok, but in the end, as B remarked, sometimes there’s a good reason for a tradition dying out. You can guess at his fan status…

Not long ago I was fretting about the amount of root vegetables and brassicas which come in our seasonal veg box and fellow blogger Fran over at Serendipity Farm suggested using parsnips in a cake. I had already conducted one experiment (not bad, also Fran inspired, a kind of Bakewell Tart with mixed spice, interesting) before I read her recommendation that chocolate cake is the ideal vehicle to absorb them.

So, after duly finishing (and sharing, I’m not mean with the baking experiments you know) the said parsnippy bakewell spicy slice thing, I decided to have a go at a chocolate one. I made it up so I should probably write it down so I can improve the result next time (note the ‘should’ here – highly unlikely)  But it was pretty delicious, though a tad TOO moist at the beginning and took AGES to cook in a slowish oven.

I even gained a blog follower in the middle of baking as our neighbour dropped round to pick up a cheque for the hay turning and baling he did in the summer (that’s the slow pace of life), thanks D, if you want a slice to try you better get on that bicycle and pedal fast! If anyone else is inspired I’d really recommend leaving the cake for a day before eating. It kind of settles down into itself, and all the flavours amalgamate.

Parsnips on Wooden Table

Part of the Parsnip Bounty

Parsnips on Wooden Board


Grated Parsnips in a bowl

and grated…

Creamed butter and sugar

I creamed some butter and sugar (white and dark)

Cake Mixture

The egg bit was far too frantic for photographing – can’t wait to get a new mixer! – so here is the flour and cocoa powder and parsnips being folded in

Cake Mix in Tin

All mixed and put in a tray lined with foil – see all the parsnips?

Chocolate Cake

Out of the oven, I kept having to look and check, the middle took ages to cook. It looks very dark but it’s not burnt at all

Chocolate Ganache

And LOOK, I made a chocolate ganache – having been heavily influenced by The Great British Bake Off!

Chocolate Cake on Plate

Iced and cut and set on some china

So, thanks Fran, the Chocolate Parsnip Cake is absolutely delicious and another experiment over. Any more ideas anyone?


Full Moon Winter

The moon last night

And I saw these the other day…

Snowdrops coming into flower January 25th 2013

Snowdrops coming into flower January 25th 2013

32 Comments Post a comment
  1. D #

    I was looking forward to reading about your baking and suprise suprise I even got a mention! I am also delighted to receive the offer of the slice of your parsnip cake complete with ganache. I will be on my bike in the next few days and will have to do the parish road circuit to burn it off afterward. Enjoyed reading the previous blog entries. See you soon. D

    January 28, 2013
    • Ok, I’ll save you a piece…I’ll have to as it seems to be disappearing at an alarming rate! Glad you’re enjoying the blog.

      January 29, 2013
      • D #

        Good. It maybe better weather tomorrow for cycling so I will try to squeeze some time from my schedule to get to the cake before B finds it!!!

        January 29, 2013
  2. AMALGAMATE. I haven’t seen that word in AGES. Pleasing x

    January 28, 2013
    • It IS good isn’t it? Actually I had that thing where you write it and don’t believe its a word any more. It usually happens with more familiar words.

      January 29, 2013
  3. Pamela McMullan #

    Good blog

    January 28, 2013
  4. Oh yum! I’m so impressed that you just winged-it on making a cake – I am inspired. Just the other day was wondering what to do with juicing left-overs – maybe the way of the parsnips?

    January 29, 2013
    • Give it a try! I think it works with cocoa powder cos that’s really dry. Don’t forget the baking powder though…;)

      January 29, 2013
  5. Glad the cake tasted alright and at least you can go with the fact that you actually used the parsnips rather than toss them out to the cows ;). Parsnips are delicious roasted and then pureed with a good stock and made into soup…just roasted is delish! Steve said “I hate parsnips” and then tried one of my roasted versions and pronounced them yum. I also toss them (along with other roasted veggies) into a barley risotto which is gorgeous. So many parsnip recipes…so few parsnips! How ironic you have a glut when I adore them and haven’t got any 😦

    January 29, 2013
    • Any more disguise the parsnip taste ideas?! I’m familiar with all the others… VERY familiar 😉

      January 29, 2013
      • Er…(kick it up a notch Fran…) Put wicks in them and use them as birthday candles (albeit slow burning…); use them to amuse and delight the dog…Earl LOVES a good parsnip chase with a very VERY sad ending for the parsnip (and a nice neat pile of chewed up bits for the compost bin…)…cut the tops off and grow new parsnips out of them (I am getting desperate!)…what about peeling them and using the peels to make a vegan alternative to lady (NEVER was a word delivered with such oxymoronic clarity as that was preceding Ms gaga!) gaga’s meat frock…what about playing “hunt the parsnip”? Could be fun! Might even invigorate your love life? ;). Or if you REALLY want to cook…

        Knock yourself out girl! 😉

        January 29, 2013
    • Laughing very much. You are a genius! Parsnip candles, love it. No dog but I quite fancy the dress.

      So, I wasn’t so very far off with my spiced slice thingy as a flavour. And I love that accent and the whole delivery. Thank you!

      January 30, 2013
      • Always willing to accomodate Ma’am…set me on a task of discovery and I am your…er…not “man” but just as vigilent as one! ;). Enjoy your day today…looks like we have another lovely cool one…might bake some bread today 🙂 and I just got a HEAP of parsnip seeds in the mail from Bev from Foodnstuff blogging fame and I am going to be delighted to find myself with a parsnip explosion…I adore them 🙂

        January 30, 2013
  6. Julia Wylie #

    Don’t torment me like this! Mmm I wish I could have a piece with my breakfast coffee!
    Brave little snow drops, looking forward to more pictures of the Cornish spring unfurling.
    Another experiment? Maybe some foraging for a meal from the wild? Elderflower champagne in a few months time?

    January 29, 2013
    • What you mean like our mushroom foray…I don’t think I can stand the anxiety again! But yes, elderflower champagne would be nice. Seaweed fritters? Dandelion coffee? Actually I should probably collect the cow dung and burn it – though I doubt we’d EVER get enough dry weather to dessicate it like they do in India.

      January 29, 2013
  7. mmw #

    Looks very gooey, sticky fingers…lovely. The plate is superb – what does it say on the back? No snowdrops here yet, too bloody cold – bon appetit!

    January 29, 2013
    • Ah yes we’ve been noting the temperatures over you…brrr. It is very moist and sticky and delicious – today I thought it might benefit from a few dark chocolate drops in the mixture. The plate is Spode from their ‘Milkmaid’ series…see the COW!! It came from a junk shop in Launceston, a present from B.

      January 29, 2013
  8. OOh yes please! Parsnips are so sweet… in a savoury kind of way. Bezza would say youve got a lovely shiny ganache. I saw a snowdrop here about the 25th too – optimism in floral form.

    January 29, 2013
    • Oh I would die of happiness if Bezza said my ganache was shiny enough! 😉

      And yes, those hopeful little heads…sigh

      January 29, 2013
  9. Katherine Kearns #

    It’s the wrong time of year now but store away this idea for autumn: pumpkin cake. You can also make it with any type of grated squash. This comes out as a not too sweet teabread which goes well with a slab of butter (accept no alternatives!) and even some cheese.

    January 29, 2013
    • Thanks Katherine. If only I’d known that when I was looking at that darn pumpkin for ages! Did you mean to link a recipe?

      January 29, 2013
  10. wow, you’re a cake making genius! I bought some parsnips at the market the other day (I love them), and the stall-holder turned his nose up and said (imagine it in French with a Gallic turning up of the nose) “ugghhh, non Madame, you don’t want to eat those, they’re disgusting”. Great sales technique. (And in fact it was only when I said that I didn’t care what they tasted like, because I was just making baby mush out of them, did he allow himself to sell them to me. Wonder what he’d say if I’d told him they were to make a cake with…).

    January 29, 2013
    • I think there might be a total Gallic meltdown and a rivulet of scorn running down that mountain! But why do they sell them?

      Thanks for the compliment! I tend to follow pretty basic measurements of 2oz flour/dry ingredient to 1.5oz (2oz if you want it sweet) sugar to one egg – and just multiply. It usually works in some way…;)

      January 29, 2013
    • Oh forgot the butter! 2oz also…;)

      January 29, 2013
  11. D #

    Well folks the local farmer (and Parish Chair) is true to his word and visited the home of thinking cowgirl to claim the slice of parsnip cake that had been offered on this very blog. What I did not say before was that I am not actually a fan of parsnips but a big fan of chocolate and cake and so off on my bike I went. The cake is actually really nice, it’s moist with a lovely gooey ganache. I could not really taste the parsnips at all. Well done that cowgirl. I did cycle 3 miles after that to attempt to burn off the energy consumed and it was only a small slice!! Thankyou!!

    January 30, 2013
    • You do realise that in the public enquiry of the future on the erection of wind turbines this will constitute a bribe of a public official don’t you? 😉

      January 31, 2013
  12. Ah – it looks wonderful, especially with that ganache. I’m not certain I’ve ever seen a parsnip, actually. Well, I’ve probably seen them and not known what they were. Wasn’t it parsnips that Peter Rabbit enjoyed so much?

    I do have a recipe for Chocolate Zuchinni Cake that is – well, spectacular. The recipe, as I recall, makes two or three loaf pans full, depending on the size of the pan. And it includes every sort of chocolate – cocoa, chocolate chips – and nuts. It’s the best excuse for eating zuchinni I’ve ever found.

    And I have my grandmother’s recipe for pumpkin bread – oh, is it good! Potato and leek soup is good, and…and… and…

    If we get some more cool weather I’d better make some soup or something. Soon we’ll be moving into the heat of spring and summer and such things won’t sound good at all – and there won’t be any desire to turn on the oven!

    If you want any of the recipes I’ll send them separately (same for any readers).

    February 2, 2013
    • My memory is a little hazy about Peter Rabbit and his love of parsnips – he was always getting into trouble though wasn’t he? I used to have a cup I was very fond of…I learned to drink tea from it!

      I’d LOVE to have the recipe for your grandmothers pumpkin bread, thank you very much. And the zuchinni (that’s courgette in UK speak!) cake too, it sounds delicious, that would be great – they are another slightly troublesome burden in summer…. 😉

      I have to say it’s hard to imagine the summer…possibly because we haven’t had a proper one for three years at least. I bet it gets pretty sultry where you are, though I guess the ocean breezes cool you down a bit.

      February 3, 2013
  13. Fabulous Moon! And thanks for the cake inspiration, I have a date booked with parsnips on Tues… (btw, this is perhaps one of my most curious statements ever). My step-mum has been reminiscing about a spicy curry parsnip soup I made a couple of years ago… she has high hopes that I recall every ingredient, act and whim. To be honest, I don’t even remember making it. We’ll see what happens, maybe we’ll make cake instead…!

    February 10, 2013
    • Parsnips are forgiving of ‘winging it’ I find! Good luck.

      February 11, 2013

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