I’m sure we can all agree that making your life easier and saving time along the way are top on the priority list. Having the best and most efficient tools for jobs you do regularly is one way to achieve this. I cook a lot so I’m always peeling and chopping vegetables, and as a baker I do a lot of zesting too! I was sent the Microplane Master Series Zester and the Microplane Professional Peeler, and I decided to use them to make this Autumn Vegetable Cake. It’s similiar to a carrot cake, except I’ve used three different Autumn vegetables – carrot, parsnip and sweet potato. I’ve added orange and ginger, plus some spices, for plenty of warming Autumn flavours. It’s finished with a delicious sweet orange buttercream, and decorated with candied carrot curls. The carrot curls are pretty straightforward to make and look really effective!
I’d heard of Microplane and knew that they were known for having excellent zesters, but I didn’t really know why and I’d never actually tried their products out. So it turns out the reason is quite obvious… they are the sharpest! They’ve been using photo etching technology for over 50 years to create the sharpest zesters and graters in the world. So not only do they have the most efficient product, they’ve also been in the business for a long time. I really admire and respect brands that put quality above everything else. The zester made short work of the oranges I zested for the cake and buttercream, I was seriously impressed at how quickly and efficiently the orange was zested. Usually zesting citrus fruits takes me ages and feels like a chore, but the Microplane zester made it a fun! I’m smacking myself that I’ve spent all these years not using Microplane.
Step by step…
Before I made the cake, I made the candied carrot curls to decorate the cake. I used the Microplane Professional Peeler to create thin strips of carrot which I then boiled in sugar water.
Once boiled, I baked the carrot strips. I removed them from the oven and while they were still warm, I wrapped them around the handle of a wooden spoon to create the curl. Then I left the curls to dry and harden on some baking paper.
To make the cake I stirred the flours, baking powder, bicarb and spices together in a large mixing bowl. Then I added the vegetable oil, eggs, orange zest and juice, and ginger.
I grated and peeled the ginger using the Microplane Master Series Zester and the Microplane Professional Peeler. Ginger can be a pain to peel but the peeler went through it like butter and it was peeled in seconds. The handle is also a nice size to hold and has a lovely soft feel to it. The zester is super sharp and comes with an essential guard for the blade, so when you’re routing around in the drawer for it your fingers won’t get zested!
I added chopped pecans and grated vegetables to the mixture, then I divided it between the tins and baked.
I decorated the Autumn Vegetable Cake with orange buttercream, the carrot curls, chopped pecans and orange zest. This cake is so moist and full of flavour, plus I’m pretty sure a slice counts as one of your five a day… who’s with me?!
Tips for making the Autumn Vegetable Cake:
- I like to pipe the buttercream between the layers, but you can also spread it with a spoon or palette knife.
- I used 2 medium carrots, 2 medium parsnips and one small sweet potato. You can use any combination of the three vegetables, as long as you reach the total amount of 485g after peeling and grating them. You can also omit a type of veg if you like, for example use only carrot and parsnip, but again making sure you have the same quantity.
- The pecans are optional, you could omit them entirely, or use another nut like walnuts.
- If you can’t get hold of fresh ginger, add 1/2 tsp ground ginger instead.
- If you have extra carrot curls, they’d look great on cupcakes!
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Autumn Vegetable Cake
Cake with autumn vegetables, spices and pecans. Topped with orange buttercream and candied carrot
For the carrot curls
- 200 g Caster sugar
- 200 ml Water
- 1 Medium sized, long carrot
For the sponge
- 300 g Self raising flour
- 175 g Wholemeal flour
- 300 g Light brown sugar
- 1 tsp Baking powder
- 1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
- 3 tsp Mixed spice
- 400 ml Vegetable oil
- 6 Eggs large
- 1 Orange Zest and juice
- 20 g Fresh ginger grated
- 485 g Carrot, parsnip and sweet potato grated, see notes
- 140 g Pecans chopped
For the buttercream
- 350 g Butter or baking spread
- 700 g Icing sugar
- 1 Orange zest only
- 1 tsp Orange extract
For the candied carrot curls (optional)
Put the water and sugar into a pan, heat on low until the sugar is dissolved
Peel the skin from the carrot. Then peel long thin strips from the carrot, try and find a long straight carrot to get the best strips
Add the carrot strips to the pan and turn the heat up to medium, simmer for 15 minutes
Pre-heat your oven to 100C Fan/120C/225F/Gas Mark 1/4, and prepare some lined baking trays and brush or spray them with a little vegetable oil
Carefully remove the carrot strips from the sugar water using tongs and lay them flat onto the baking trays
Bake for 30 minutes
Remove from the oven and quickly wrap the strips around the handle of a wooden spoon to create the curls, then slide off onto baking paper. You may need to grease the spoon with vegetable oil if it gets sticky
Leave the curls to dry out and harden for at least 1 hour
If you are making them in advance, store in an airtight container until ready to use. Do not allow them to touch as they may stick together
For the cake
Pre-heat your oven to 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark, and grease and line three 8 inch sandwich tins
In a large bowl, stir together both flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice and light brown sugar
In another bowl mix the vegetable oil, eggs, orange zest and juice, and ginger together
Combine the wet and dry ingredients and whisk well
Stir in the grate vegetables and chopped pecans
Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins, I like to use scales for accuracy
Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and a thin skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove them from the tins and leave them to cool on wire racks
To make the buttercream, mix together the butter and icing sugar, you can use either an electric mixer or do this by hand with a spoon
When it starts to come together add the orange extract, and whisk until smooth. Then stir in the orange zest
Level the sponges if they have domed at all with a serrated knife or a cake leveller
Stack the sponges up on your plate or cake stand, piping or spreading buttercream between each layer
When you get to the last layer, pipe larger rosettes all around the edge and smaller ones in the centre
Decorate with the carrot curls, some chopped pecans and some orange zest
Serve immediately, store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool place and eat within 3 days
I used 2 medium carrots, 2 medium parsnips and one small sweet potato. You can use any combination of the three vegetables, as long as you reach the total amount of 485g after peeling and grating them. You can also omit a type of veg if you like, for example use only carrot and parsnip, but again making sure you have the same quantity.
Mixed spice is a British spice blend containing Cinnamon, Coriander Seed, Nutmeg, Clove, Pimento, Ginger. If you can't get hold of it, use a Pumpkin Spice mix instead
NB. This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.
If you like this, check out more of my Cake recipes!
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