I first started writing about the sequence of (very) unfortunate events that took over my Thanksgiving yesterday, but it just seemed so petty. And, it was... for sure... which made me think about the underlying cause of why everything going on seems so much more grave than it probably would be through another person's eyes. Homesickness.
Walking into an empty apartment that doesn't have electricity (please - don't ask... they say Switzerland is an advanced country, and I'm trying very hard to believe them...) on Thanksgiving day after you just payed the equivalent of 27 Canadian dollars for a small plate of (very unexciting) rice and vegetables is, for me, the current definition of homesickness. (Ahem, please note that wine was *not* included in this ridiculous sum.)
I could continue my sob story, but I feel that it's a personal thing that doesn't make sense... it's more of this deep dread than some sort of explicable-relatable emotion. And, in any case, this is supposed to be a happy place ! So let's instead dwell on my attempted cure for homesickness, which was cutting a massive slice of this cake, throwing it into a bowl, and sitting crossed-legged on my floor trying to remember all the happier Thanksgivings of years past.
While I won't claim that this cake is a cure-all for the emotionally unstable, it sure doesn't hurt ya in the feelings department. The cake part is super textured, with the parsnips shining through. They become soft and softly chewy and totally delicious. (Also, my new favourite smell is parsnip. If anyone finds a parsnip candle, I am totally interested.) The butternut is subtle, but paired with the cinnamon, it adds this huge pinch of warmness to the cake. Plus, this cake actually *tastes* like vegetables (in a good way, I promise)... it's not overly sweet so you really can appreciate all the different flavours going on.
The frosting is a totally star. The creaminess of the tahini blends all of the fall flavours of the cake together perfectly. It's almost like a peanut butter taste, but less loud. And the addition of chocolate... well... chocolate makes everything better. Plus, this frosting just glided on the cake, which, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I have to say I'm extremely grateful for... I can't take much right now, including finicky frosting.
This cake makes ONE 9 inch/23 cm cake or TWO 6 inch/15cm cakes. If you want a layer cake with 9 inch cakes (instead of 6 inch cakes, as pictured here) double the recipe.
VEGAN parsnip and butternut squash cake - WHAT YOU NEED:
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup apple sauce
- 1/2 cup mashed butternut squash (cook in either microwave or oven and smash)
- 1/2 cup sugar (I used golden cane sugar)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used olive)
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups loosely packed shredded parsnips (I peeled the parsnips, then shredded them... about 500 grams of parsnips)
VEGAN parsnip and butternut squash cake - WHAT YOU DO:
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (350F). Prepare two cake pans (6 inch/15 cm) by greasing them with (vegan) butter and coating them with flour. Set the cake pans aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, beat together the apple sauce, butternut squash, sugar, syrup, oil, and apple cider vinegar.
Slowly beat in the flour mixture to the butternut squash mixture.
Fold in the parsnips.
Spoon the batter evenly into the two pans, and bake at 180C for 25 - 28 minutes. Turn out the cakes on to a cooling rack to cool completely. (Please note: I'm still getting used to my (new) oven, and I'm not sure exactly how accurate it is... so maybe check the cakes at around 22 minutes just to be sure.)
tahini-chocolate frosting - what you need:
- 3/4 cup (vegan) butter, softened (170 grams)
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 50 grams dark chocolate, melted and cooled
- pinch of salt
tahini-chocolate frosting - what you do:
In a large bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. (I use an electric beater here... my biceps aren't strong enough to do frosting on my own!)
Beat in the powdered sugar.
Beat in the tahini, chocolate, and pinch of salt.
Beat until totally combined, scraping down the sides with a spatula when necessary.
To assemble the cake:
This frosting is so uber-amazing-creamy-magnificent that I didn't even have to do a crumb coat, one layer just kept everything all up in there.
Place one layer of cake smooth side up on a cake stand. Add a huge dollop of frosting and spread it out.
Add the second layer of cake, smooth side up, and repeat.
Frost around the sides of the cake. If you need to add another layer of frosting to smooth the sides out, pop it in the fridge for 15 minutes first.
As for toppings, I was almost out of sprinkles... so I used a few remaining sprinkle stars + some improv decorations like sesame seeds and chocolate shavings.