Bait And Switch (Or Why I’m Not Above The Occasional Culinary Subterfuge)

Parsnipity Spelt Cake

Sometimes I come across strange recipes on the internet that I just can’t help but test out in my own kitchen.  I become inordinately fascinated by these culinary oddities, with a fixation that won’t be satisfied until I taste them for myself.  Of course, in order to get the Everyman to try many of them, I generally have to leave out certain salient details that might give him pause.

Case in point would be when this particular recipe popped up in my RSS, gleaned from the Serious Eats column The Crisper Whisperer.  I’m sure that by the time he finishes reading this post I will have received a call or an email about this particular cake and his personal thoughts on it, but when he asked me what it was last night I simply uttered “spice cake”.

Over the years we’ve all come to acknowledge carrot cake, sweet potato pie and zucchini muffins as relatively commonplace dessert-type offerings, but up until this point I’d never seen or heard of a parsnip cake before.  Between the fact that I was vaguely intrigued and disgusted by its very existence, and the fact that I had a half bag of parsnips lounging around our crisper not getting any younger, I decided it had to be done.

Just Batter

The recipe began simply, calling for all the usual suspects that come to a batter party (flour, sugar, eggs) but I immediately began making changes and substitutions.  Where there was once flour I replaced it with spelt, and a cupful of allergenic walnuts became a measure of porridge oats, while white sugar was traded for brown.  Then, just because I felt the guilt of attempting something healthy (yes, I suffer from the opposite form of guilt, not for eating badly, but from trying to eat too good) I threw in a small handful of dark chocolate chips – just because.

Is That Parm?

As quick as the cake was to put together, the longest part of the process was grating the cursed parsnips.  3 ‘nips later, I was left with a huge mound of damp flesh that could’ve been mistaken for shredded coconut or parmagiano by any number of people.  Once it was all mixed together, it was baked in the oven for the better part of an hour until it came out brown and roasty toasty (as above).

As far as taste goes, it’s certainly unique.  Not being much of a fan of frosting, I wasn’t keen on serving it with the proscribed ginger cream cheese, which was all the more reason to add chocolate chips if you ask me.  It wouldn’t necessarily be at the top of my wish list of cakes I absolutely have to eat before I die, but it did offer a rather pleasant change of pace without tasting overbearingly of parsnip.  I’d say that’s a rather formidable accomplishment, don’t you think?

Foodie’s Oatmeal Parsnip Spice Cake

1.5 c. spelt flour

0.5 c. porridge oats

1 c. brown sugar, packed

2 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp ground ginger

1.5 tsp ground cinnamon

0.75 tsp ground nutmeg

0.75 tsp ground cloves

0.75 tsp salt

3 eggs

0.5 c. canola oil

0.5 c. milk

1 tsp vanilla

2 c. peeled, shredded parsnips, packed (about 3-4 large parsnips)

0.25 c. chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350*.  Combine the first 9 ingredients in a bowl, blend well and set aside.  Combine the next 5 ingredients in another bowl, then fold the wet into the dry until just incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate chips, then pour into a square cake pan.  Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Cool completely before serving.

Makes 16 servings.

Until next time…

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