You'll like this cake if you're looking for something that's sweet enough for breakfast but not instant-cavity sweet. It's tender of crumb and incredibly comforting, which is the exact sort of thing I'm looking for this time of year. If you're looking to add a bit more sugar for a full-blown dessert, you can easily pour a little glaze over the top and voila! Dessert course!
This cake is hugely forgiving. It can be made with all AP flour, or all cake flour, or even whole wheat flour if you're looking for some added bulk. You can make it with all carrots or beets or even zucchini, and you can toss in a teaspoon of whatever flavoring you prefer if you want to change it up a bit (I like cinnamon and coriander). If you prefer, try making this cake in a bundt pan for an interesting presentation, but you'll have to carefully gauge your baking time to suit whatever size pan you're using.
About the author: Stephanie Stiavetti is a writer and cookbook author in San Francisco. Stephanie's cookbook, Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, celebrates America's favorite dish by recreating it with small production, specialty cheeses. Her food blog, The Culinary Life, is a repository for all things comfort food related, from savory dinners to transcendental desserts.
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- Butter for greasing
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) white sugar
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (about 4 1/2 ounces) brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dry)
- 1 1/2 cups (about 7 ounces) cake flour
- 1 1/2 cups (about 7 1/2 opunces) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup peeled, grated raw beets (about two small beets)
- 1 cup peeled, grated carrots (about one large carrot)
- 1/2 cup peeled, grated parsnip (about one small parsnip)
- 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped lightly
Set oven rack to middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Generously grease two 5- by 9-inch loaf pans and set aside.
In a small frying pan, heat walnuts over medium heat to toast, agitating every few seconds. Once the walnuts turn fragrant and change to a deeper shade of brown, remove them from the heat. Allow to cool completely.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and add white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest. Whisk until well mixed, then add in sour cream and whisk until uniform consistency. Beat in baking soda, salt, and rosemary, mixing well.
Using a large spoon, stir in cake flour until no white powdery bits are visible. Follow with the all purpose flour, stirring just until there is no more visible flour. Use a rubber spatula to fold in shredded beet, carrot, and parsnip, followed by dried cranberries, followed by the walnuts. Stir just until combined.
Divide the batter equally between the two loaf pans and bake until top splits slightly and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pans half way through baking. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack and let sit until fully cooled. Serve with salted butter.