Parsnips may seem an odd ingredient for a cake but, if you think about it, they are actually quite sweet; we don’t bat an eyelid at carrots in a cake. We pair parsnips here with malty Horlicks and toasted hazelnuts. You could add a more formal touch by serving the un-iced cake as a pudding, with a little vanilla ice cream and a few orange segments.
For the cake
150g sunflower oil, plus more for the tin
75g ground almonds
3 eggs, lightly beaten
150g light muscovado sugar
75g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp ground ginger
pinch of sea salt
150g (1 medium) parsnip, peeled and grated
For the icing
125g unsalted butter, softened
125g icing sugar, sifted
50g Horlicks malted milk drink
50g hazelnuts, skinned
icing sugar, to dust (optional)
Preheat the oven to 155°C/fan 135°F/gas mark 3. Oil a 26 x 12cm loaf tin and line the base with baking parchment.
Spread the ground almonds and hazelnuts (for decoration later) on separate baking trays, then toast in the oven for 15–20 minutes, or until golden brown, turning them with a spatula every
5 minutes so they cook evenly. The hazelnuts may take a little longer. Set aside to cool.
For the cake, whisk the eggs, oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl (or use a food mixer fitted with the beater attachment), then add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, ginger and salt. Lastly fold in the parsnip and mix thoroughly.
Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 45–50 minutes, or until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack.
While the cake cools, make the icing by beating the butter and icing sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy (or use a food mixer fitted with the beater attachment). Make a paste with the Horlicks and 2 tbsp of boiling water, then beat this into the buttercream.
Once the cake is cool, spread the icing generously over the top, then chop the toasted hazelnuts in half and scatter over. Finish with a light dusting of icing sugar, if you like.