Spiced Apple and Parsnip: A cake a cut above the rest by Anthony O'Toole
A good workman never blames his tools. That’s usually because a good workman only uses good tools. Irish chef, Anthony O’Toole, is one such craftsman. Found in the kitchen, rather than the workshop, he is committed to the importance of simple, carefully chosen pieces when he’s cooking. Ones that effortlessly combine form and function, are elegant yet utilitarian and guaranteed to work. He’s a devoted supporter of our Spear Pestle and Mortar and has shared with us his secret to creating the perfect mixed spice blend and his favourite recipe in which to use it.
“When we think of a mortar and pestle, baking never really springs to mind. We tend to use shop-bought ground spices instead of grinding spices ourselves. For many bakers, freshly ground spices can bring a cake to the next level, creating a complete difference in taste and texture. Whole spices and seeds, stored properly, last longer than ground spices and I like to make up only small amounts of spice blends at a time, storing them in an airtight jars in a dark, cool cupboard. I prefer to buy my spices from Asian stores, specialty food stores or a spice merchant because they tend to have a high turnover of spices so they are always fresh. My rule is, buy ‘little and often’, compared to having spices at the back of your cupboard that you will never use.
This spice mix is a fragrant reminder of Christmas. ‘Mixed spice’ or ‘pudding spice’ as some people call it is one of my favourite spice blends. We think to only use it at Christmas time to make our festive bakes but I use it throughout the year in biscuits, cakes, and ice creams, with roasted fruits, and even in some savoury dishes as well.
When making any spice blends, I like to weigh my spices as it delivers consistency. A teaspoon measure can vary quite significantly from baker to baker.
- Allspice berries, 10 grams
- Cloves, 5 grams
- Coriander seeds, 5 grams
- Mace blades, 5 grams
- Ginger powder, 5 grams
- Nutmeg, freshly grated, 5 grams
- Cassia bark, freshly grounded, 5 grams
Place all the spices into the mortar and very slowly grind with the pestle until they form a powder. It will take some time to grind, about 2-3 minutes, so turn on your favourite tunes. There will always be a few spices that will not grind down, so I sieve out these pieces before storing in a jar. Below, Anthony shares with us the perfect recipe in which to use this spice blend.
Makes 1 x 900g / 2lb loaf
For the cake
Soft brown sugar, 150 grams
Sunflower oil, 150 ml
Free range or organic eggs, 3 medium size
Vanilla extract, 5 grams
Plain flour, 125 grams
Baking powder, 10 grams
Ground almonds, 50 grams
Mixed spice, 10 grams
Sea salt, crushed, 2 grams (pinch)
Parsnips, peeled and coarsely grated, 200 grams (weight when peeled)
Eating apple, peeled, cored and coarsely grated, 100 grams
Hazelnuts, roughly chopped, 75 grams
Sultanas, roughly chopped, 50 grams
For the topping
Mascarpone, 250 grams
Maple syrup, 30 ml
Hazelnuts, roughly chopped, 20 grams
Maple syrup, 10 ml – for drizzle
I love to eat this the day after baking as the spices mellow and the flavours develop.