Mary Isbister's Swede Cake

by Elizabeth Atia -

Happy Halloween!

The annual Shetland Food Fair happened here last weekend, and what a hoot it was! So many new and delicious things to taste test, so much food talk and catching up with foodie folk from all around the islands. I'll be writing a few more blog posts for A Taste of Shetland over the following week sharing some of the things I discovered and tried, but first, since it's Halloween, I wanted to share with you Mary Isbister's rather fantastic swede cake. Ann Johnson was handing out slices to taste test at the Scoop Wholefoods stall at the fair and I might have gone back a few times for more!

Think carrot cake, but with a little extra ginger kick and made with the humble grated swede instead. I even made my first neepie lantern out of the rest of the swede - not a bad first attempt, no? For you overseas readers, it's not traditional to carve pumpkins in Shetland at Halloween. They carve lanterns out of neeps instead and then go guizing.

I tell you my husband was up first thing this morning attempting to drill the centre of this neep out with a hole saw, gave up and resorted to a knife and spoon. It's actually not that difficult to do and I don't know why I've avoided trying it all these years I've lived in Shetland. This will now be an annual occurance!

So, back to the cake - Ann was giving out the recipe at the Shetland Food Fair, Mary Isbister's own unique creation, and so I rang Mary first thing this morning after taking my own cake out of the oven asking her permission to share the recipe with you.

She very kindly obliged.

If you want to thank her you can find her over on Facebook at the Burland Croft Trail.

Mary Isbister's Swede Cake

Course: Main

Servings: 16 pieces

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

for the cake
  • caster sugar - 175 grams
  • plain yogurt - 100 grams
  • sunflower oil - 100 ml
  • eggs - 3
  • swede - 150 grams (grated)
  • self raising flour - 250 grams
  • bicarbonate of soda - 1 tsp
  • ground ginger - 1 tsp
  • nutmeg - 1 pinch
  • sea salt - 1 pinch
for the cream cheese frosting
  • cream cheese - 220 grams
  • icing sugar - 250 grams
  • chopped crystalised ginger - (to decorate)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C/ 160 C fan and grease and line a 9 inch square baking tin.
  2. Cream together the sugar, oil, yogurt and eggs.
  3. Mix in the grated swede.
  4. Add the flour, spices, and salt and fold until combined.
  5. Spoon into the prepared tin, levelling the top, and bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes until well risen and golden. A skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean when it is cooked.
  6. To prepare the frosting gently combine the cream cheese and icing sugar together. Ice the cake when it is completely cool and decorate with chopped crystalised ginger or chopped nuts, if desired.
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