3 Reasons to Invest in a Set of Kitchen Scales + an Unusual & Super Delicious Cake

One of the most common questions I get asked from Stonesoup readers is to include measurements for cups and spoons with my recipes.

My response is always to politely suggest that they invest in a set of kitchen scales.

If you’re already one of the kitchen scale ‘enlightened’ then skip on down to this week’s recipe. I have an unusual and super delicious cake for you. And the star ingredient?

Yep. It’s parsnips.

But if you’re yet to start baking with grams or ounces, here are 3 reasons to invest.

1. Quicker and easier.
Just pop your container on the scales, hit the zero button and add your chosen ingredient. Too easy.

2. Less mess!
No need to get all your cups dirty. Just weigh directly into your bowl / saucepan / food processor.

3. Weight is much more accurate.
For baking it’s important to get your measurements right. Using cups (volume) can be really variable especially for flours which can lead to variable baking results. And not in a good way!

Are you with me?

And best of all they don’t take up much space. Plus these days they aren’t very expensive. Just go for digital scales that are easy to ‘zero’ and a design that’s easy to wipe clean.

Happy baking!

parsnip cake

Spiced Parsnip & Chocolate Chunk Cake

Inspired by the boys from Three Blue Ducks in Bronte. Love their new cookbook!

I know parsnip in a cake sounds a little bit weird, but it works just like carrot to keep everything moist. And there’s something about the spices, parsnip and chocolate together that makes me keep finding excuses to bake this.

300g (10.5oz) parsnips
200g (7oz) oil or melted butter
200g (7oz) brown sugar
250g (9oz) almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 eggs
100g (3.5oz) dark chocolate smashed into chunks

1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Line a loaf pan with baking paper.

2. Grate the parsnip using your food processor (or a grater). Remove the food processor blade and add the oil or butter, sugar, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon, cumin, eggs and chocolate.

3. Stir until everything is mixed. Transfer the mixture to your prepared tin.

4. Bake for 1 hour or until the cake is deeply golden and feels springy in the middle when you touch it.

5. Cool in the tin or serve warm.

VARIATIONS
different veg – if parsnip in a cake is a bit too weird for you try carrot or zucchini (courgette) instead.

nut-free – replace almond meal with plain (all purpose) flour. Be prepared to reduce the baking time to make sure the cake doesn’t dry out.

chocolate-free – replace the chocolate with roasted nuts. Pecans, almonds or walnuts are all good.

vegan – replace eggs with a large ripe banana and increase the oil a little. I haven’t tried it for this recipe, so if you do please let me know how you get on.

sugar-free – I really love brown sugar here so if you’re using a sugar replacer like stevia or xylitol I would add in 1-2 tablespoons molasses for the flavour.

Video version of the recipe.

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With love,
Jules x

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{ 16 comments }

Elizabeth K November 26, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Sounds wonderful, however parsnips are always *very* expensive here in the subtropics so wondered if they make much difference in flavour or texture compared to carrots or zucchini?

jules December 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Either would be good Elizabeth… Although I’d skip the cumin with zucchini

amykaymademyday November 26, 2013 at 6:03 pm

I love all of your Gluten Free Christmas Ideas! The vegetarian ones are my favorite, even though i am no longer a practicing vegetarian it is nice to have a relief from all of the meaty dishes over the festive season. especially with it being summer in South Africa over christmas.

Nao November 26, 2013 at 6:51 pm

I love the idea of parsnip in a cake!! I’m tempted to try this (but without the chocolate). Great pic of the raw cake mix, Jul!! Xoxo

Michelle November 27, 2013 at 1:42 am

I had to use scales when I worked as an R&D recipe developer for a food company, and I hated it. I found it much fussier than simply using cups and teaspoons. My husband is from England and bought kitchen scales when he moved here, and then promptly stopped using them in favor of cups/teaspoons/etc.

Plus, as a recipe developer, I came to understand that it normally takes at least a 10% difference, sometimes more, in the amount of an ingredient to make a measurable/taste-able difference in a finished recipe.

Oh well, to each her own!

jules December 3, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Hi Michelle

I’m surprised you found scales fussier to work with… you’re right each to their own

Jx

Joanne Richards November 27, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Hi, I have to ask: the cake looks burnt and also sunk in the middle. Does it need to be cooked to that colour to be cooked all the way through? Also, any idea why it sunk? Is that because you’ve used almond meal instead of flour? I hope you don’t mind me asking this, I just know when I replicate recipes I want them to turn out the best that they can so it’s good to know what to expect up front.

jules December 3, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Hi Joanne!

Great questions.. I opened the door when I was cooking which caused the sinking. The colour is quite dark on the outside but it definitely doesn’t taste burnt..

Hope that helps
Jx

Jessie December 1, 2013 at 10:11 am

Hi Jules, thanks for sharing this recipe. I made the veganised version – all I did was substitute the eggs with banana, I didn’t add any extra oil. It ended up tasting amazing, but there was waaaaaay too much oil, it was literally oozing everywhere and so the cake ended up more of a pudding texture. Also, it started burning, so I turned the heat down. Not sure what that was due to – maybe the excess oil? Anyway, if I were to make this again, I’d probably reduce the oil. Tasted great though!

jules December 3, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Hi Jessie!

Thanks for reporting back. The thing with eggs is that they emulsify the oil whereas bananas don’t so that’s probably why you had the oil issue.

Glad it tasted good anyway!
Jx

Zo @ Two Spoons December 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Oh! I totally thought the white threads were coconut at first. I’ve seen a parsnip cake that required precooking and mashing and lost interest, but hadn’t thought to put them in grated! Thanks for this.

Ana December 3, 2013 at 4:48 am

This was rich and moist but I have to say the cumin left a slight curry aftertaste – not what I look for in a cake. Next time I will substitute nutmeg, cloves or allspice to go with the cinnamon. Thanks for the recipe!

Nicola December 3, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Hi, we cooked this last night and it is delicious :-)
We chopped the parsnip and chocolate smaller so that our kids wouldn’t be able to pick bits out and it turned out really nicely, very moist and chocolately in every bite.
Ours also looked a bit burnt when we took it out, but it didn’t taste burnt at all, so I guess it was just because it’s a dark cake.
Thanks for the recipe!

jules December 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Glad you liked it Nicola!

melissa December 4, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Does using kitchen scales eliminate the need to sift the flour? Thanks for the great looking recipes!

jules December 10, 2013 at 5:51 pm

No necessarily Melissa

I don’t bother with sifting flour unless it’s really lumpy

Jx

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