Turnip Cake

One of my favorite things to experiment with is turning vegetables into dessert (see here, here, and especially here).  So when I got some gargantuan turnips in the weekly share, I knew it was time to try baking with them.  As an added bonus, the students from one of my husband’s college classes were all having dinner at our place, and there is no better way to get rid of a cake than to feed it to college kids.

Probably most of the kids who were here couldn’t identify a turnip if asked to do so, and many of them admitted to having never eaten one before.  (Apparently torturing your children with a side of turnip slaw has fallen out of favor as a parenting technique.)  Many of them ate the cake gamely, though in truth, it was a bit challenging.  It came out very earthy, and peppery and custard-y, and while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t overwhelmingly awesome either.  Truly, you haven’t lived until you’ve fed experimental turnip cake to a dozen college kids.  Guaranteed they will not forget dinner at our place.

So this cake is good, but not quite good enough.  I can see where if you are a dessert-everyday-type person, then this would be a lovely change from chocolate and cookies, and you could feel good about all the vitamin A and K in your children’s dessert.  However, if you eat dessert only rarely, this probably isn’t going to be something you choose to make.  It just doesn’t have the tremendous lusciousness of a molten chocolate cake or some such.  Regardless, here is the recipe.  I would love to hear back about any suggestions you might have for how this could be done better.

Turnip Cake

2 C grated Turnip
1 C Sugar
1/2 C oil
1/2 C milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 C flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp clove

for frosting:
1 brick cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
1 C powdered sugar
dash of vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter and flour a 13×9 pan.  Mix the cake by mixing all the wet ingredients (except the turnips) then adding the dry ingredients and mixing some more.  Bake about 35 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.  Let cool

Mix the frosting by letting all the ingredients come to room temp, then beating the cheese and butter together, and mixing in the sugar.


About christianathomas

I'm a working mother of two trying to make eating well fit into our hectic lives. I also used to own a completely chaotic bakery. Follow me for tips and tricks on how to get more whole foods into your diet.
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6 Responses to Turnip Cake

  1. Scrumptious says:

    Oh wow, you weren't kidding. That is an actual cake… made from turnips. Oh my!Turnips are the single veggie I can't stand (although now that I've learned to pickle them I'm sad because my new CSA doesn't grow them) so I think I'll pass on the cake. I do admire you though and think you are a very brave baker!

  2. Jet says:

    We had a split ticket on turnip cake at our house. I loved the earthy weirdness of it and I don't eat much sugar or white flour, so their presence in anything is exciting. Michael, without knowing what it was, took a bite, and said, "gee, I don't know, it seems like something you are trying to get over on a kid…" We both think you are an awesome baker and are still talking about the BRILLIANCE of fennel cheesecake.

  3. Well, at the point at which you have successfully turned beets, fennel, parsnips, and carrots into desserts, trying the same trick with turnips seems like less of an obviously bad idea, right? In this case though, it was hard to compensate for the peppery flavor in the dessert. I like it, but don't love it. I kept tasting it just to be sure it was good, and every time I was surprised by how not awful it was. I do tend to agree with Michael though. It's a dessert for kids who eat too much dessert.With that said, the other dessert we served the college kids was a store bought 4 layer chocolate deal (brought by one of the students). Relative to the obvious synthetic flavor of the chocolate cake, I would take the turnip cake any day. That grocery store cake is nasty.I still think there must be a way to make turnip into dessert, but I have to keep thinking about how…

  4. Samuel says:

    The students weren't just pretending to be game. The next day I heard from most of them that the turnip cake was a hit. Then again, they haven't take the final exam yet…

  5. Jet says:

    Sam, I think we must rule out your students' feedback as to the tastiness of your wife's cake. I am certain they are very earnest, but it would call into question too many issues around the scientific accuracy of our polling data. 😉 That said, C, why not take a pass at a savory turnip flan?

  6. Jet – in process! Early results look positive, if puny. Not sure I really made enough for two. We may be ordering in pizza anyway at this rate.

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