Praline and Parsnip Cake (Tårta med pralin och palsternacka)

This Praline and Parsnip Cake recipe from Rachel Khoo's Little Swedish Kitchen makes a stunning festive winter bake, perfect for family gatherings during the Christmas season.

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Introduction

You are probably wondering what parsnips are doing in this cake. But this white, slightly sweet root, usually found in your Sunday roast, makes just as good a cake as its carroty rival. Like carrots, parsnips are sweet, which lets you use less refined sugar, but they also have a lovely nutty flavour, and putting vegetables in cakes helps to keep them moist. I made a version of this for my baby’s christening.

Serves 8-10
Prep time: 1 h
Cook time: 1 h
Total time: 2 h

Ingredients

For the cake:
150g wholewheat flour
50g ground hazelnuts
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp fine sea salt
3 medium eggs
100g golden caster sugar
150ml sunflower oil
200g parsnips, peeled and grated
For the praline:
150g blanched hazelnuts
150g sugar
For the icing:
100g butter, softened
200g cream cheese
50g icing sugar

Essential kit

You will need: a 23 cm spring-form cake tin, plus silicone-coated baking paper.

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Line the cake tin with baking paper.

Mix together the flour, ground hazelnuts, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Beat the eggs and golden caster sugar until fluffy, then pour in the oil and add to the dry ingredients with the parsnips. Fold together, then pour into the prepared cake tin.

Bake for 30–35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin on to a wire rack.

Next make the praline. Line a baking tray with silicone-coated baking paper. Toast the blanched hazelnuts in a dry pan until they are slightly golden. Leave to cool before roughly chopping.

Cover the base of a large pan with a thin layer of the sugar and place on a high heat. When the sugar starts melting at the edges, put some of the remaining sugar on top. Repeat until all the sugar is used up. Swirl the pan occasionally (don’t stir). Once the sugar has reached a lovely toasty golden brown, take off the heat and quickly stir in the nuts. Pour on to your lined tray. Leave to cool before blitzing to a coarse powder in a food processor.

Make the icing by beating the butter until very soft, then beat in the cream cheese, sift in the icing sugar and beat again until smooth.

When the cake is fully cool, slice horizontally in two. Put the first layer on a serving plate, add a few dollops of the icing and smooth over the top. Add the second layer, and repeat with the rest of the icing. Scatter the sides with some of the praline, then sprinkle some on top.

Top tips: you can decorate this cake with some toy reindeer for a festive bake.

The cake is equally nice ‘naked’, without the praline and cream cheese filling.

This will make more praline than you need for this recipe, but it keeps well in an airtight jar and is great for jazzing up all sorts of desserts.

Get ahead: when well wrapped, the un-iced cake keeps for up to 4 days in the fridge, or it can be frozen for a couple of months.

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