I got this from the Moosewood Book of Desserts, and they say it's originally a USA pioneer recipe, which is why you have no perishable ingredients like dairy, eggs or fat. This makes it vegan, and moderately healthy but remember fat-free can still be calorific... especially if you use the full whack of sugar. The recipe is very easy as long as you plan ahead (and maybe have a food processor to do the grating!). It's American, so all in cups - I reckon 2 cups of grated veg is about 3 large carrots or 2 med-large parsnips. I keep meaning to weigh the ingredients myself next time I make it, but always get halfway through before remembering... (1 cup = 8 fluid ounces in a measuring jug if you don't have any measuring cups, or try this site to convert to grams for specific ingredients.)
- 2 cups (packed) finely grated carrots or parsnips
- 0.75-1 cup packed brown sugar [original amount in the recipe was 1.5 cups but I found it too sweet]
- 1.75 cups water
- 1 cup sultanas or other dried fruit (chopped to sultana size). Sultanas are great, but I also like apricots with carrots, and cranberries seem to go well with parsnips, but you could use dates, figs, whatever you have lurking. A small amount of candied ginger, finely chopped, can be a nice addition.
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups plain flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 0.25 tsp ground cloves
- 0.5 tsp ground nutmeg or fresh grated
- 0.5 tsp ground ginger, or 1-2 tsp fresh grated ginger
[be a little heavy handed with the spices if you want more of a winter warmer gingerbread effect, but go easy on the cloves, tiger]
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
Combine the carrots, sugar, water, fruit (plus fresh ginger, if using) and vanilla in a saucepan - bring this to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes, remove from heat, cover, and let sit for >1hr or overnight. All the fruit plumps up and the flavours mingle. Yum!
Preheat oven to 300F / 150C / Gas 2. Grease and flour a 9-10" pan, or put cases in a 12x muffin tin.
Combine the dry ingredients (flour, spices, salt, baking soda and powder) in a bowl. Stir the carrot mix into the dry mix just until no dry traces are left. Pour the combined mix into the pan, and bake until firm/springy and a skewer comes out more or less clean (you want it to be moist, but cooked) - about 1 hr for a cake or roughly 30 mins for muffins I think (keep an eye on them).
Cool the cake in the pan for 10 mins, then on a rack. Optionally, poke a few holes in the cake while warm and drizzle a lemon/orange sugar syrup over the top. If you don't need the cake to be vegan, cream cheese based icing/frosting is decadent but occasionally called for :) (Cream cheese, icing sugar, citrus zest/juice or spices to taste - just make sure the cake is fully cool before spreading it.) But to be honest, this cake is good just as it is.