a carrot cake with cream cheese; a parsnip cake with cardamom cream.

I have named you queen.
There are taller than you, taller.
There are purer than you, purer.
There are lovelier than you, lovelier.
But you are the queen.
-Pablo Neruda
Perhaps pumpkin is more traditional and chocolate more sexy, perhaps pie is expected and tarts would turn heads. But somehow this bundt cake with root vegetables baked into tall towers; this cake with cream cheese hiding in swirls along its center, convinced me that this was the perfect way to celebrate Thanksgiving, despite what everyone expected. So I gave in and gave thanks.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese
adapted from Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands to Yours and America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook 2011

1 cup whole wheat flour, plus a little more for the pan
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil [or olive oil]
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots (use the large holes on a box grater)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

cream cheese filling
6 ounces cream cheese, soft
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Position an oven rack to the middle and preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour the inside of an 8-cup fluted tube/bundt pan and tap out the excess flour.
Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine the maple syrup, sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl of a standing mixer, and using a whisk attachment beat on high speed until the mixture has thickened slightly and is light in color, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer to low speed. Add half of the flour mixture, then the sour cream, and then the rest of the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix until the batter is just smooth. Remove 1/4 cup of the batter and set aside. Add the carrots and pecans, and mix until combined.
Pour half of the batter from the mixer into the prepared pan, and the other half into a clean bowl. Wipe out the mixer bowl, and return it to the mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, maple syrup, and vanilla on medium speed until smooth and light, about one minute. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved batter [without carrots and pecans] and mix until incorporated. Spoon the cream cheese filling evenly over the batter in the pan, trying to keep it away from the edges. Spread the remaining reserved batter over the filling and smooth the top. With a butter knife, gently swirl  the filling into the batter using a figure-eight motion, but don’t drag the filling to the bottom or the edges of the pan. Firmly tap the pan on the counter to dislodge any bubbles.
Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely. Cake can be stored in the fridge for 2 days, wrapped in plastic wrap.
for the parsnip cake:
This cake is basically made the same, but for a few things:
In the cake: omit the cinnamon, pecans, and carrots, and substitute grated parsnips for the carrots. In the cream cheese filling: Add 1-2 teaspoons ground cardamom [I like a lot of cardamom, but if you want a very subtle taste, just use 1 teaspoon.]
  • Reply
    Thursday, November 24, 2016 at 2:42 am

    Would adding a maple cream cheese frosting work for this cake? Or would powder sugar be better?

  • Reply
    Spencer @ Moo-Lolly-Bar
    Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 1:08 am

    I love a good carrot cake and this recipe looks outstanding! I am having a real craving for some now.

  • Reply
    Friday, November 15, 2013 at 2:37 am

    Hi.Was cardamom-parsnip version your idea?Or was it from the book?I will buy the book or not..I really wonder,I baked it an it was terrific.

    • Reply
      Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 8:00 am

      It was actually my idea – the book version is a carrot cake. I’m so glad you liked it!

  • Reply
    Friday, November 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Definitely making this cake but because of picky eaters I want to substitute white flour for wheat. Would that work for this recipe? Any help is much appreciated!

  • Reply
    Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I just came across this thanks to pinterest (not sure how I missed the original post) and I love the sound of the parsnip and cardamom version, definitely going on my list of things to try. Absolutely mesmerizing photos as well!

  • Reply
    ????? ???????? ??????
    Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    nice bro ??? ??????

  • Reply
    Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 1:31 am

    beautiful photography as always, and I love the idea of a parsnip cake. a delicious way to use an under-appreciated vegetable!

  • Reply
    Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    You always find such beautiful quotes to accompany your incredible photos 🙂

  • Reply
    la domestique
    Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Oh the cake is so pretty! I have a thing for carrot cake, and that cream cheese filling seems like such a unique idea.

  • Reply
    Monday, November 26, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    This looks incredible! Love your creativity in your writing and in your recipes.

  • Reply
    Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I love the quote! Of course, the cake too! 😉

  • Reply
    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    These are simply stunning. Carrot cake is actually a Thanksgiving favorite in my family, so this was a festive post for me. And I love that bundt pan. I don’t want to ask what pan it is because I already have enough ;). Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  • Reply
    Helene @ French Foodie Baby
    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Original and lovely. And always love reading Pablo Neruda with your images and recipes… Have a very wonderful Thanksgiving.

  • Reply
    Laura @
    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    What a pretty bundt cake, it sounds delicious too. What bundt tin did you use for this?

  • Reply
    Sprouted Kitchen
    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Beautiful. I prefer something different anyway 😉 happy holiday, lovely.

  • Reply
    leaf (the indolent cook)
    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Love the poetry. Love the cakes too. x

  • Reply
    Heidi @foodiecrush
    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    I LOVE this and it’s sneaky little taste inside. And carrot cake is my favorite!

  • Reply
    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    I’m in love with that mold and the idea of parsnips and cardamom is amazing. Such gorgeous photos as always, Sarah!

  • Reply
    london bakes
    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Such a beautiful cake – as Kimberly says, your photos are so dreamy. Really delightful flavours too. I hope you and your family have a happy thanksgiving xo

  • Reply
    Jenny @ BAKE
    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    This photos are absolutely incredible! just perfect! and I love the idea of cardamon cream!

  • Reply
    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 7:01 am

    I love this bundt cake with its secret cream cheese. I enjoy pie but it’s expected and familiar, while this is beautiful and lovely and unexpected at this holiday. Plus these photos are so dreamy that I want to eat the entire thing in one fell swoop. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Reply
    Suzanne Perazzini
    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 6:10 am

    Your cake mould must have very sharp edges. It has produced a sculptured cake – quite beautiful. I too love the secret filling.

  • Reply
    Emma Galloway
    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 3:27 am

    Oh my. Such a beautiful looking (and sounding!) cake. xx

  • Reply
    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 2:39 am

    I love the idea of having a cream cheese filling. What a fantastic post!

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