Friday, 23 October 2015

Honey parsnip cake and a bee swarm

A couple of weeks ago I was just leaving home when a neighbour alerted me to a bee swarm in a tree by her unit.  The bees had been so thick in the air when she got home that she had to wait for it to settle before getting in her front door.  The swam resting in the tree (see my photo below) was very alive with bees crawling over it and looked like something out of a science fiction film.

Apparently our body corporate was sending someone over but he didn't appear before the weekend.  We assumed it would be an exterminator.  I read online and found that local bee keepers could take the swams away with no harm to the bees.  So I rang a local shop called Bee Sustainable who were very helpful in directing me to a local bee keeper.  I felt very proud of my work.  However as soon as the bee keeper arrived the swam flew off into the air with a deafening buzzing and disappeared over the roof tops.  It was a very odd experience.

While reading online about bee keepers, I was pleased to read the Beechworth honey is one of the brands that are Australian produced.  This is the honey we have at the moment.  Strange all the incidental knowledge you pick up in while trying to keep a house in order.  As you have probably gathered from the title of this post, I had great plans for my Beechworth honey.

Cakelaw does an amazing job at keeping up with interesting cake recipes in newspapers and sharing them on her Laws of the Kitchen blog.  She recently posted a Honey Carrot Cake that Dan Lepard had devised.  Of all the bookmarked recipes and cookbooks of recipes in my life, this one rose to the top of the pile.  It was a most intriguing recipe with apple, tahini, spices and cocoa. 

When it came to baking the cake, it was the parsnips rather than my carrots that needed using up.  And I have always wanted to bake a parsnip cake.  I also made a few small changes to the spices, used cranberries rather than sultanas and didn't douse it in honey and cream cheese frosting when it came out of the oven.  I had hoped to use up some cream cheese in the frosting but by the time I made the cake E had eaten too much of it.  There wasn't enough enough to make with yoghurt in this frosting.  So I just spread it on a few slices instead.

This is not a neat delicate cake for maiden aunts.  No.  It is a moist cake that produces slices which are a little crumbly but you don't mind because they are so dense with flavour and cranberries and charisma.  If cakes have charisma!  I loved it.  If you want to really impress guests with the cake, go the whole hog and douse it in honey and cream cheese frosting.  But for a quiet moment with a cuppa, this cake is delicious by itself or with a lick of butter.  Whichever way you eat it, this honey parsnip cake is bound to please.

I am sending this cake to Veggie Desserts, Michelle Utterly Scrummy and Fuss Free Helen for Extra Veg and to Create Make Bake and Mrs D Plus 3 for Fabulous Foodie Fridays #74.

More vegetable cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Avocado pound cake with cream cheese frosting
Chocolate beetroot brownies
Chocolate carrot cake
Kale cake (v)
Mashed potato chocolate cake
Moist and nutty carrot cake
Spicy pumpkin tea cake

Honey parsnip cake
Adapted from Dan Lepard via Laws of the Kitchen

125ml neutral oil (I used rice bran)
175g honey
50g tahini
2 eggs
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cocoa
200g grated parsnip
1 small apple, peeled and grated
40g glace ginger, finely chopped
150g dried cranberries
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 160C.  Grease and line a loaf tin.  (Mine is 13x22cm but Dan suggested a 10 cup loaf tin.)

Combine oil honey and tahini in a large mixing bowl.  Mix in eggs, mixed spice and cocoa.  Stir in parsnip, apple, ginger and cranberries.  Finally mix in flour and baking powder.

Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

Serving suggestions: Dan suggested brushing the hot cake with warmed honey and topping with a cream cheese frosting.  I preferred serving slices with butter or cream cheese spread over it.  A drizzle of honey or jam could be added to this if it wasn't sweet enough.

On the stereo:
In Blood Memory: Jen Cloher 


  1. Your bees ended up in my street! The other day I went to check the mail and heard a massive humming noise, looked up and saw a bee swarm circling in the middle of the road! They flew away somewhere though. But it was a pretty terrific noise (not when they're chasing you I suppose)!

    1. Thanks faye - sorry about our bees - tried to get a man to take them away but these one would not be fenced in :-) I actually missed the noise as Sylvia and I were out when the man came - I had really wanted to watch him put them in a box but our timing was out.

  2. Oh for a bee swarm near us. So far it's just been our bees swarming and we've been unable to find them! Your honey parsnip cake sound delicious. I've only made parsnip cake once before and really really liked it, so I;m not quite sure why I've not made another one. Hmmmm!

    1. Thanks Choclette - hope it wasn't someone's bees on the loose and that they were missed - makes me realise how difficult it must be to keep bees if they act like that! Hope you find your bees. I loved the parsnip cake - but carrots are usually more plentiful in our kitchen - I had bought some on special so had enough for this cake

  3. I am glad that you made this and enjoyed it. It's definitely not a fluffy tea cake but it is very tasty. I think it's my favourite carrot cake recipe.

    1. Thanks Cakelaw - not at all fluffy but fluffy isn't my sort of cake - I can see why it would be your favourite - such a great cake

  4. Yikes! The last time we visited my Mum she had a huge swarm of bees living in her yard, it was very scary. I think cakes certainly have charisma and the more the better! Thanks for linking up with us for Fabulous Foodie Fridays, I hope you have a great week.

    1. Thanks Lauren - we tried to keep Sylvia away from the bees as kids have a way of getting underfoot and I didn't want her getting in the way of the bees.

  5. Wow. I wonder if the bees knew the beekeeper was coming and didn't want to be taken in ;p I like that you tried going that route instead of waiting for an exterminator. We really need to keep the bees around!
    I find the idea of grated parsnips in a cake a little odd, but I'm willing to give it a try. Sounds like a delicious cake!

    1. Thanks Kimmy - it was a weird coincidence that the bees fled from the beekeeper - he didn't seem bothered - E said he said something like "they're as happy as larry" and seemed to enjoy watching them. Highly recommend you try parsnips in a cake (though I was wondering if they would work in a raw cake as well as carrot did in your thanksgiving cake)

  6. How exciting! I remember as a child we had a bee swarm gather in a tree in our garden. I was fascinated with the way they were moved.... I remember a bee-keeper coming and 'catching' the queen and placing her into a hive box and all the other bees flew in to follow her. It was amazingly clever! He then took them all away to live a happy bee-filled life elsewhere. Soooo cool!
    Loving the cake too... Parsnips can be amazingly sweet, but I admit that I have never tried using them in cake before.

    1. Thanks Kate - wow that sounds amazing to watch. I really wanted to watch the bee keeper take the bee swarm but we have to go out during the time he came over so we missed it. But after someone told me that the bees got smoked out I wanted to check what would be done to them and was glad to find that bee keepers can take them in a cruel-free way! I've eaten parsnip cake before and so I know it works really well in a cake.

  7. Shame that the bees flew off before the beekeeper could give them a good home..... we gotta look after all the bees we can I reckon. But at least they disappeared before the exterminator arrived!!!!!!!!!!
    Never tried parsnip in cake before, but it sure looks delicious

  8. The cake sounds lovely but that bee swarm must have been scary! Thanks for entering ExtraVeg

  9. That sounds delicious, I do like a good loaf cake that is just as it is and does not need adornment.

    I have never been anywhere near a swam of bees!


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