alternative christmas cake, Berlin, cake club, chocolate orange macaroons, christmas cake, clandestine cake club, home made marshmellows, mincemeat and ricotta tart, parsnip and maple cake, spiced parsnip cake, vegetable cakes
December 15th was the last Clandestine Cake club for year 2014 and it was definitely a merry and festive occasion. I was in two minds as to whether I was going to be able to attend it as it was taking place the day after I arrived back from Berlin, two days before I was due to set off to Australia, I was suffering from tooth ache and finally the 15th was also my Christmas Day with Craig. However somehow or another I managed to fit it in and I’m so glad I did.
Cake club has become such a wonderful part of my life as cheesy as it sounds. It gives me an excuse every month to think up or bake a recipe related to the theme of the month and then spend a wonderful evening with new friends catching up and trying out different recipes. I would highly recommend it to anyone. I joined cake club at the start of this year and it has become an event I always look forward to.
This month’s theme was a little off the mark to what we usually do as the theme was ‘anything goes’. The rules with cake club are that you cannot bake muffins or cupcakes rather it needs to be a cake that can be cut up into slices and shared between people. As it was the last cake club of the year and close to Christmas Jelena chose the theme to allow us to test out other recipes than simply cakes. Therefore we had all sorts from chocolate gooey Santa cake pops, mincemeat and ricotta tart, traditional polish cake with poppy seeds, chocolate orange macaroons, chili infused ‘hot chocolate cupcakes’ with home made marshmallows on top and much more. I said to myself I would only have a slither of each but once you get to cake club it is always such a different story. There is so much delicious food and this time incredible mulled wine as well that it is too difficult not to over indulge but each bite is absolutely worth it.
Due to lack of time I decided on making a spiced parsnip cake inspired by a recipe I had seen on BBC Good Food. I love vegetable based cakes and have wanted to make a parsnip cake for some time now so with Christmas beckoning it seemed like the perfect time to make it. I also wanted to make something that was relatively quick and hassle free to bake and decorate which this recipe definitely is. I ended up making it at 9pm Sunday night before finishing off wrapping Christmas presents therefore allowing me to have more time to spend on Monday for our Christmas Day. I didn’t have any pecans so used chopped hazelnuts for the inside of the cake and wasn’t quite sure how it was going to turn out but thankfully it was a delicious recipe. Here’s how to make it:
- 175g butter, plus extra for greasing
- 225g demerara sugar
- 100ml maple syrup
- 3 large eggs
- 250g self-raising flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 250g parsnips, peeled and grated
- 1 medium apple, peeled and grated
- 50g chopped hazelnuts
- zest and juice 1 small orange
- icing sugar, to serve
- 250g tub mascarpone
- 3-4 tbsp maple syrup
- 80g icing sugar
- 50g mixed nuts (hazelnuts, pecans & almonds)
- Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease 2 x 20cm sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment.
- Melt butter, sugar and maple syrup in a pan over gentle heat, and leave to cool.
- Whisk the eggs into this mixture (you can use fork to do this), then stir in the flour, baking powder and mixed spice, followed by the grated parsnip, apple, chopped hazelnuts, orange zest and juice.
- Divide between the tins, then bake for 25-30 mins until the tops spring back when pressed lightly.
- Cool the cakes slightly in the tins before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.
- For the filling, mix together the mascarpone, icing sugar and maple syrup. Spread half the mixture over the first layer sponge and the other half over the top layer then sprinkle with mixed nuts to finish.
This cake is so light and not so indulgent therefore it is very easy to eat more than one slice at a time. The super simple filling works beautifully with it and gives it a little extra sweetness. It’s also a lovely alternative to a traditional Christmas cake and a lot less time consuming too. Our last cake club of the year turned into a wonderful evening. Jelena even put together a raffle as a little thank you where we each had to write down something we had learnt throughout the year through baking. It’s amazing how many tips you pick up through trial and error. I’ve learnt never to put a cake with sugar paste on as it will melt, something I discovered for my halloween inspired themed cake. There were some great tips and you can read them on Jelena’s write up of the event here. I’m so glad I decided to go despite the fact I was due to be on a beach a few days later but as they say you only live once and cake is simply to good to miss out on. Rather I’ll just swim a few extra lengths in the sea and all will be well. It is Christmas after all.