With spices, a hint of brown sugar, and a seriously addictive frosting, this cake is sweet enough to qualify as dessert, but with all those vegetables, you don’t need as much oil as you might with regular carrot cake. You may suspect there are too many vegetables, but they’ll all stir in fine.

Makes 16 servings

2 large carrots, finely shredded or grated
1 large parsnip, finely shredded or grated
1 medium zucchini, finely shredded or grated
1 tart apple, peeled and cored, finely shredded or grated
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional

2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
2 tsp apple cider
1 cup icing sugar, plus more if needed
pinch ground cinnamon, plus more if needed, and for garnish
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts for garnish, optional

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss together the carrots, parsnip, zucchini and apple; set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and frothy. Add the oil and vanilla, and whisk until blended. Add the flour mixture to the liquid ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula until just combined. Add the shredded vegetables and apple and the pecans, if using, and stir until they are completely coated with the batter. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake on the middle oven rack until the cake is uniformly brown and quite firm when lightly touched in the centre, and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool on a cooling rack for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto the cooling rack. Peel off the parchment paper and invert the cake back onto the rack to continue cooling for at least 1 hour.

Make the frosting: In a small bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), add the butter and cream cheese. Using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), whip the butter, cream cheese and apple cider together on medium speed until very smooth, about 3 minutes. At low speed, slowly add the icing sugar and beat until blended. Taste the frosting and add more icing sugar or cinnamon as needed. Spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cake, and on the sides if desired. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and the chopped pecans, if using. Cover the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate at for at least 1 hour. Serve chilled. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Adapted from a recipe in Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods, edited by Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. This recipe was originally published in Edible Rhody.