May 21, 2014


parsnip and lemon cake

This could easily be the last cake I ever make in my old oven in my old kitchen.  I spotted the recipe in a blog and it was one of those recipes that I felt compelled to make as soon as I had the opportunity.

kitchen after

My kitchen, spruced up for the estate agent’s photos.

We’re hoping that it won’t be long now before we move.  It’s eleven weeks since we accepted the offer on our house and with any luck we should move in early June.  I have mixed feelings about leaving the house where I have lived for nearly thirty years, especially about leaving my old kitchen.  Apart from anything else, it’s huge. 

The cabinets are old fashioned now but the doors are made of solid oak so we have never had the heart to change or paint them.  They have successfully survived several new worktops, ovens, appliances, revamps and numerous parties, not to mention cooking disasters and triumphs.  But the main issue I have with my kitchen is actually its size.  The space between the two sides is so great that we travel several miles a year just fetching stuff out of the cupboards to cook with!  If we were to stay here we would be thinking about changing it for a more modern design and a tighter layout.

 kitchen new Our new kitchen.  The smile on Nick’s face gave it his seal of approval on the day we viewed the house.

My new kitchen is tiny by comparison.  There are lots of cabinets, but the space is small.  It has a half size dishwasher and a single bowl sink.

The house is a recently renovated between-the-wars semi and the kitchen, like everything else in the house is brand new.  And I have to say, I’m really looking forward to it.  I was born and brought up in a house like this so it felt like a comfy old slipper as soon as I walked through the front door.  To have that familiarity but with a brand new kitchen, bathroom, electrics, plumbing, carpets and everything else is going to be a total joy.  The people who have renovated it have even managed to squeeze a downstairs loo into what was the broom cupboard under the stairs – they deserve a medal for that!

 parsnip and lemon cake2 parsnip and lemon cake3

So for my last cake in my old kitchen, I made the parsnip and lemon cake which was delicious.  There are a lot of parsnips in it and, being in a hurry as usual, I made the mistake of grating them in my food processor.  As I tipped them into the cake mixture I realised that they were more shredded than grated.  I looked at the long strands of parsnip in the cake tin and wondered if it would work but it did.

parsnip and lemon cake4

As well as parsnips and lemon the cake contains sultanas, spices and a small amount of cold tea.  That’s something I’m always a bit nervous of putting in a cake but it added a nice slight hint of flavour to this one.

The texture was lovely and it kept well.  If anything it was even better on day two and beyond.  A cake I will definitely be adding to my repertoire and look forward to making again and again.  Even Nick, who doesn’t really like cake that much, enjoyed it so maybe I will make it the first time I bake in my new kitchen!

Thanks go to “The Gentleman Baker” in whose blog I discovered the cake, and you can read all about it and see the recipe here:

Parsnip and lemon cake.


  1. I shall definitely be trying this out, Jean. With parsnips it has got to be a more healthy cake, which I tell myself every time I make a carrot cake!

    I'm sure you'll love your new kitchen. It looks wonderful. Our kitchen is about 30 years old and really needs a revamp. I think the French kitchen is about the same age, but I like it!

    1. Gaynor, same here.
      Our kitchen was fitted when I bought the house in 1985 and we have never felt the need to change it, unlike most of our friends who seem to have a new kitchen every few years!

      Which brings me to your point about the French kitchen. We think ours was also probably fitted in the 80's and compared with some of the almost non-existent kitchens we saw when house hunting in France, it seemed really modern!
      Like you, we're perfectly happy with it. Fashion in kitchens seems to move much more slowly in France, like most other things I think!

  2. I really want to see the French reaction to a cake with panais in....
    they are only just coming back into shops like Terry Frootz...
    most French seem to think of the wonderful parsnip in the same way as Simon thinks about pumpkins....
    cattle food!!

    The new kitchen looks wonderfully retro...
    there is a thirties feel about the colours and curves...
    but in the thirties it would have had a scrubbable wooden worktop, Bakelite handles and a slot-in gas cooker in Hammerite-finished Moss Green stove-enamel.
    And as for the half-sized dishwasher... that would have been the kids!!

    1. Tim, that explains Mme André's reaction to the parsnip and clementine cake I made earlier this year - maybe I shouldn't have mentioned the parsnips!

      And you're absolutely right about the 'new' kitchen. You are describing the kitchen of my childhood exactly, especially if you add a copper boiler, ponch and dolly tub to the "appliances"!!

    2. I forgot the "washing machine"...
      I've got an old copper boiler here...
      just got a new burner for it...
      it had been converted to "natural gas!!"
      it will supply the hot water for my brewing...
      and then boil the wort.

      [You'll be on your way here very soon...
      the picture number came up as 37!!]

  3. Oh it's hard leaving a familiar kitcxhen even to go to something that is perhaps mre suitable - but the new one does look lovely. I'm all for veg in cake - I'll give this a go definitely, although I'll have to hide the presence of parsnips from the Husband, let alone any Frnech guests we might have. Good luck with the move, Jean!

    1. Sally, the texture of the cake was lovely, similar to carrot cake as you would expect, and it definitely didn't taste anything like an actual parsnip!

  4. I'm always a bit uncertain about using veg in cakes and I really don't know why because the results are usually so good. I think this sounds lovely. I'm definitely keeping my fingers crossed that your move goes as smoothly as a very smooth thing.

    1. Phil, some veg go really well in cake and I have been really pleased with the results, such as courgette, pumpkin, butternut squash and parsnip (I have yet to make a carrot cake).

      When I attempted a cake with kale in it the outcome was not good - I can't help thinking that some vegetables have no place in a cake - at least not if you want it to turn out like a cake - and cabbage is possibly one of them !!

    2. And beetroot, I forgot to add it to the list, it goes really well with chocolate.
      In fact this gives me an idea for a future CCC theme........

  5. This is a must for me, Jean and I love parsnips and lemon, though I've never yet tried them together. :-) We have a big kitchen here in Wales and yes, I get a lot of exercise just making a meal. Our French kitchen, which we installed ourselves is a neat U-shape with the dining table at the other end. You new kitchen looks very efficient.

    1. Perpetua, I shall remember this and in future refer to my new kitchen as "efficient" rather than "small" !!