This Autumn Vegetable Cake is similiar to a carrot cake, except I've used three different vegetables - carrot, parsnip and sweet potato. I've also 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!
This post is sponsored by Microplane. All opinions are my own.
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 cake.
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.
Ingredient Tips & Equipment Information
- Make sure all your ingredients (particularly the eggs) are at room temperature before you start baking.
- 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 total amount.
- 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 tsp ground ginger instead.
- 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. Or try 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ ground ginger, ¼ ground nutmeg, ¼ ground cloves.
- Although I provide cup measurements, I highly recommend weighing your ingredients out using digital kitchen scales*. It is the most accurate way to measure ingredients and will ensure the best results. Digital scales are very low cost and can be purchased for around £12 ($16.50) .
- For teaspoon (tsp) and tablespoon (tbsp) measurements, please use measuring spoons* and not the type of spoons you eat with. Again this will ensure accuracy and provide the best results.
For the full recipe with measurements, head to the recipe card at the end of this post.
How to make an Autumn Vegetable Cake
Make the candied carrot curls first. I recommend using the Microplane Professional Peeler to create thin strips of carrot, then boil them in sugar water.
Once boiled, bake the carrot strips. Remove them from the oven and while they are still warm, wrap them around the handle of a wooden spoon to create the curl. Then leave the curls to dry and harden on some baking paper.
To make the cake, stir the flours, baking powder, bicarb and spices together in a large mixing bowl. Then add the vegetable oil, eggs, orange zest and juice, and ginger.
To grate and peel the ginger, I recommend using the Microplane Master Series Zester and the Microplane Professional Peeler. Ginger can be a pain to peel but this peeler goes through it like butter and it will be 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!
Add chopped pecans and the grated vegetables to the mixture, then divide it between the tins and bake. Once the cakes are cooled, decorate the 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?!
How should the cake be stored and can it be frozen?
The cake should be stored in an airtight container in a cool place and will last for 3-4 days. You can freeze the sponges either alone, or decorated (but do not freeze the carrot curls). Once the sponges are fully cool, wrap them well with cling film or put them in an airtight container with some baking paper between them. You can freeze the buttercream on it’s own in a tub, or you can decorate the cake and freeze it fully assembled.
To do this and avoid damage to the decoration, freeze it either in an airtight container. Or let it freeze solid on a cake board or plate, then wrap in cling film. Remove the cling film when you take it out to defrost it, if you don’t it could damage the decoration as it defrosts and softens. You can also freeze slices of the cake, again well wrapped in cling film or in airtight containers.
Can you make the cake with plain/all purpose flour?
Self raising flour, which is very commonly used in the UK where I am based, already contains a raising agent and a little salt too. Therefore if you want to swap it for plain or all purpose flour, you will need to add some additional baking powder and also a little salt if you like. Some people like to add salt to cake recipes and some don't, so I'll leave that up to you as it won't affect the bake. The general advice is to add 2 teaspoons baking powder (a measuring teaspoon, not the kind you stir your coffee with) per every 200g plain or all purpose flour. So for this recipe you'd need to add 2 + ½ teaspoons baking powder. Please note, I have not tested this recipe using plain or all purpose flour.
Can this recipe be made gluten or dairy free?
Yes! For gluten free you can replace the self raising flour with a gluten free self raising flour blend, and the plain wholemeal flour with a gluten free plain flour blend. If you only have a gluten free plain flour blend, you will need to add additonal baking powder. The general advice is to add 2 tsp baking powder per 200g flour, so for this recipe you'd need to add 2 + ½ teaspoons baking powder. You may also like to add ½ tsp Xantham Gum for better texture. The cake is already dairy free, but for a fully dairy free version, use a dairy free baking spread and dairy free milk for the buttercream.
Can this cake be made with two layers?
Yes! Please check the notes after the recipe at the bottom of this post for details. It can also be made with one layer.
Can this cake be made in different size cake tins?
Yes! If you would like to make this cake in different size tins, please check my Conversion Guide to find out how to adjust the recipe.
More 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.
- Instead of light brown soft sugar, you can swap it for caster sugar if you prefer.
- If you can't get hold of fresh ginger, add 1 tsp ground ginger instead.
- If you have extra carrot curls, they'd look great on cupcakes!
If you have any questions about this recipe, or if something went wrong and you need help, please use the comment form below and I will get back to you.
Recommended equipment & ingredients*
- 8" cake tins
- Mixing bowls
- Kitchen scales
- Cooling rack
- Electric hand mixer
- Wilton 8B Piping nozzle
- Mixed spice
- Piping bags
*I earn a small amount of money if you buy the products after clicking on the links. You will not be charged anything extra for this. Thank you for supporting The Baking Explorer!
More vegetable cake recipes...
Autumn Vegetable Cake
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 Plain wholemeal flour
- 300 g Light brown soft 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
- 2 tbsp Milk
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 ¼, 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 that are at least 2 inches deep
- 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 using a whisk
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients and whisk well
- Stir in the grated 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 cooling racks
- To make the buttercream, mix together the butter and icing sugar, use an electric mixer for best results
- When it starts to come together add the orange extract and milk, and whisk until smooth. Then stir in the orange zest. You can add a little more milk if it's too stiff
- 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