An Easter cake fit for a king

Easter is a special time of celebration in our household and even though we (well, I!) try to limit chocolate consumption to a manageable amount, a showstopper cake seems to fit the occasion. This squash and parsnip cake relies on olive oil for its moist and dense texture, whilst the flavour is a delightful mix between earthy and fresh, and not at all too sweet. All you need now is a freshly brewed cup of tea and a comfy seat.

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Butternut squash and parsnip cake with saffron icing

Makes 1 small (18cm) double layered cake

Ingredients for the cake

170g wholemeal spelt flour or gluten-free flour

130g chickpea / garbanzo bean / gram flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

pinch of sea salt

200g coconut blossom sugar or light muscovado sugar (lumps removed to avoid holes in your cake)

seeds of 12 – 15 green cardamom pods, ground with mortar and pestle

185ml (3/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil

4 eggs, preferably organic and pastured

30ml (2 tablespoons) milk of your choice if you are using gluten-free flour

Zest of 2 oranges, preferably unwaxed and organic as citrus fruit is often heavily sprayed with pesticides

150g peeled and grated butternut squash

150g peeled and grated parsnips

Ingredients for the frosting

large pinch of saffron, ground into powder with mortar and pestle

50g butter (preferably organic and grass-fed), softened

250g full-fat organic cream cheese (preferably organic and grass-fed), at room temperature

30ml (2 tablespoons) honey, preferably raw

pinch of sea salt


For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Grease and line two 18cm round cake tins with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, sugar and cardamom powder.
  3. Separately, whisk the olive oil, eggs and orange zest until combined.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the flour mix, and pour in the eggs. Stir to combine, then gently mix in the carrot and parsnip. If the grated strands are on the long side, run a sharp knife through the veggies a few times before adding to the batter (this will help prevent any bubbles or unevenly cooked bits).
  5. Divide the cake mix between the two tins, tap them vigorously on your counter top to allow air bubbles to escape and bake for about 55 minutes, or until golden and a skewer or toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the tin for a few minutes, then remove from and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting:

  1. Soak the ground saffron in just enough hot water to cover for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Beat the butter until soft and light. Add the cream cheese and continue to beat until smooth.
  3. Add the honey and salt and beat another few seconds.
  4. Now you can either add all the saffron water or divide the frosting into thirds, colouring each third slightly more yellow than the one before. Use the three shades to create an ombre effect cake.
  5. Place the frosting in the fridge and allow to set to a pipe-able consistency before icing your completely cooled cake.

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