Continuing with an Autumn theme, I made this cake for a housewarming party and asked people to guess what it was made of. No-one could, and they were pretty surprised to find out it was parsnip!

Adapted from BBC Good Food (Nov 2009)
Cooking time: 45 mins
175g butter, plus extra for greasing
250g demerara sugar
100ml maple syrup
3 large eggs
250g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons mixed spice
250g parsnips, peeled and grated
1 medium eating apple, peeled, cored and grated
50g pecans, roughly chopped
zest and juice 1 small orange
icing sugar, to serve

For the filling:
250g tub mascarpone
3-4 tbsp maple syrup

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (355 F). Grease 2 x 20cm sandwich tins or line with baking paper. Melt the butter, sugar and maple syrup in a pan over gentle heat, then cool slightly.
2. I found it very helpful at this point to prepare the fruit, veg and nuts to go in the mixture. The parsnip and apple need grating, the orange needs to be zested and juiced, and the pecans roughly chopped up. Yes, I got bored grating the parsnip as small as possible and did a lazy job with the apple! 

If your butter and syrup mixture has cooled a lot while you've been doing this just whack it back on the heat for a minute or two.

3. Now whisk the eggs into the syrupy mixture one at a time, then stir in the flour, baking powder and mixed spice.

4. Once the flour is incorporated add the grated parsnip, apple, chopped pecans, orange zest and juice and mix. Divide the mixture between the sandwich tins and bake for 45 mins until the tops spring back when pressed lightly, or an inserted knife comes out clean.

5. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for about 5 mins before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely. Just before serving, mix together the mascarpone and maple syrup. Spread over one cake and sandwich with the other. Dust with icing sugar as a finishing touch.
Keep the cake in an airtight container in a cool place and it will last for quite a while (mine lasted three days before it was all eaten and was still nice and moist),

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