July 21, 2020
Although most tree nuts are gathered in autumn, they need time to dry and cure. So mid-winter is a good time to get cracking. We have a walnut, almond and two hazelnut trees on the western border of our suburban property. The trees are now six years old and each year the nut harvest doubles.
This year we gathered a small box full, but, if that continues on the same trajectory, in a few years we are going to have quite a lot of nuts. Which was the plan, after all, to grow some energy-dense food-producing trees on our quarter acre. Nut trees (and three avocados we have also squeezed in) will grow quite big so they are positioned along the bank of the brook that borders our property. This way we can utilise the extra headspace reaching over council land rather than a neighbours fence.
The almonds, in particular, are a true labour of love as they need a strong cracker to open the shells and the resulting nut quantity is always a little disheartening after the effort. We use this cracker, although not cheap. it is built to last and when you have a large number of shell to crack it is very efficient – here is a video of walnuts. After a walnut cracking session with the kids recently we decided they had to be used in cake – not just any cake but a ‘carrot and parsnip cake’ cake…
Parsnip & Carrot Cake with Walnut & Ginger
Carrot is a well-known addition to a cake but parsnip also works well due to its mellow sweetness. In this recipe, I combine parsnip and carrot with crunchy walnuts and a good kick of warming ginger.
- ¾ cup (185ml) olive oil
- ⅓ cup (65g) brown sugar
- 2 tbsp golden syrup or honey
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup grated parsnip (120g), packed
- 1 cup grated carrot (about 120g), packed
- 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger root
- 1 cup (150g) standard white flour
- ⅓ cup (50g) wholemeal flour or more white flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ cup (50g) chopped walnuts
Spiced cream cheese icing
- 250 g cream cheese (or use the thick creamed part of a can of coconut cream to make it dairy-free)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- Chopped walnuts, to decorate
Preheat oven to 170°C. Line and grease a 20cm round cake tin.
In a mixing bowl, combine the oil, sugar, syrup and eggs and whisk until smooth. Mix in the grated parsnip, carrot and fresh ginger.
In a separate bowl combine the flours, baking powder, spices and walnuts. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix and fold together until just combined.
Scoop into the tin and bake for about 35 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out cake to a cooling rack.
Make the icing: use a spoon to beat together the cream cheese, maple syrup and ground ginger until smooth. Use a butter knife to spread onto the cooled cake. Decorate with walnuts and serve. Store in a cake tin and consume within 3 days.
*Recipe first published 27th June 2020 on Stuff.co.nz.