“Let them eat carrot cake”…a quicker route to the guillotine…


I have never come to terms with cake made from carrots. Such root vegetables were very popular as sweetening agents in the 18th century but even Marie Antoinette had more sense than to attempt to appease the ravenous sans culottes with carrot cake. There is something uneasy and inappropriate about the liaison of cake and vegetables. It surprises me that the Lady of Shallot never wrote a cookery book as, being a member of a branch of an ennobled vegetable family, carrot cake would most certainly have been among her signature dishes: such eccentricity could have been expected from a dotty aristocrat of the noble Onion family.

Cake and fish can only be described as a combination devised by Dante for those condemned to the innermost circles of hell. Butter, sugar, eggs and flour can never benefit from the addition of fish even in the minds of the maddest of the mad. However, unlike the carrot cake and Marie Antoinette, the fish cake has a sense of humour which is its salvation.


Cake is a misleading word in English as it can refer to many things that I consider to be very uncakey: a cake of  soap would be a shining example of uncakiness. Fish cake should be the apotheosis of uncakiness, except for shitcake. Shitcake is a mushroom that is found under cowpats and sensibly renamed shitake for commercial reasons – true or false? Back to fish cakes.

The good fish cake is made with good ingredients as is the case with all good food. Crap fish cakes are universally available, as are all crap products, but ill advised. The cakes in the picture were made from salmon, anchovies, parsley, butter, potatoes and seasoning.

The salmon was lightly poached with some salt and pepper corns. Whilst the fish rested in its warm bath, freshly boiled potatoes were passed through a potato ricer, then seasoned with salt and white pepper and lubricated with butter and cream. I had earlier gathered some flat parsley from a patch parsley_0132behind3_mix_mash_fish_0082 the cottage where it springs from the gravel each year. The parsley was washed, chopped and added to some chopped fillets of anchovies. Large flakes of the cooked salmon are roughly mixed with the mashed potatoes and parsley anchovy mixture so that the pink and green of fish and parsley bejewel the warm yellow mass of buttery mash. Take a handful of this amalgam of good things and form it into a ball, flattening the top and bottom to make it into a “cake”, and dusting it lightly with seasoned flour. If all the ingredients are still warm, as they ideally should be, the cakes will need no more that 2 or 3 minutes cooking, on each side, in a frying pan….preferably in good olive oil. 9_sauce_bottles_0111We serve them with a salad of peppery rocket leaves and if  a sauce is required, I would recommend Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce or Watkins Anchovy Sauce…..

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2014, anchovies, Cooking, Cream, Digital photography, Fish, Fish cakes, Fish cakes, Flat parsley, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, Herbs and Spices, mashed potatoes, Olive oil, Photography, photography course, Recipes, Salmon, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to “Let them eat carrot cake”…a quicker route to the guillotine…

  1. “There is something uneasy and inappropriate about the liaison of cake and vegetables.”
    That must be because you haven’t yet tasted Jill’s beetroot chocolate cake — mind you, you know about it the next day: it can come as a shock to the unwary!

  2. Vicki says:

    ……….and you haven’t tasted my favourite (& easy) boiled carrot cake.

    But seriously, Roger, those fish cakes look delicious. Sounds like a very nice recipe and very tasty.

    But I’m surprised that you put Worcestershire sauce on them. That sounds like an unusual combination to me. I have never used that sauce with fish. It that an English combo. or something else?


  3. I loved this, especially the true or false on shitake mushrooms, hilarious. I must confess that I’ve never met a carrot cake that I did not eat. The fish cakes look and sound delicious. Must try.

  4. Mad Dog says:

    I like carrot cake – I’m not a very sweet person 😉
    Thos fish cakes look delicious!

    • I’m finding that the whole world loves carrot cake…:)

      • Vicki says:

        Ah, but there’s carrot cake (and then there’s CARROT CAKE), Roger,

        I like the recipe I found that has a few spices, raisins and chopped walnuts in it. I don’t like that horrible thick creamy icing that most retailers and cake shops here in Australia put on their carrot cakes. I like moistness and spice. But I don’t like soggy or mushy sorts of carrot cakes (or any other soggy cakes either). I was very lucky as a child. My Mother was a great baker. The only thing I ever made better than my Mother were scones and then, it has to be fresh flour for me (to make good scones).

      • We have a couple of small, independent flour mills in our area. I’ve used their spelt flour on a couple of occasions and it was wonderful. You’ve been a very good apologist for the carrot cake:)

  5. MELewis says:

    They look heavenly. Much like the quiche I made this morning from the leftover salmon (en papiollote on the BBQ to keep the smell out of the house), asparagus and a bit of creamy goat’s cheese. Not with you on the veggie/cake combination however; carrot is one of my absolute favorite cakes, along with chocolate zucchini (or courgette, as you Brits will call it.) Yummy…

    • What is God’s name is chocolate zucchini? I tried not to mention beetroot chocolate and now you’ve added courgette chocolate..I think beetroot is good, courgettes are good and chocolate is good. To be blunt, we’re talking substitutes and not necessarily improvements….we’re talking dildo recipes:)

  6. I love the reference to Dante Inferno’s but I am guilty of being a huge fan of fish cakes. These look divine. You can’t beat fish cakes, a crisp salad and a glass of good quality white wine on a summers day. Emma xx

  7. lulu says:

    Fish cakes are something rarely seen on a menu in Houston, but in Maine it’s a different story. Most are made with haddock, a most versatile fish. Funny, but I’ve never made them as I enjoy sampling all the ones that are available.
    I will never think of shitakes in quite the same way again!!

  8. ChgoJohn says:

    Happy Easter, Roger, to you and the lovely — and ever so patient — Jen

  9. Now I’ll be questioning shittake mushrooms! Love Worcestershire sauce. Hadn’t thought to try it with fish but I bet it’s good!

  10. catterel says:

    Drooling again – think I’m getting addicted to your blog .-D

  11. Shitcake mushrooms – don’t think our local Sainsbury’s stocks them 😉 Great fishcakes and please give carrot cake another go…or at least the icing!

  12. margaret21 says:

    Ok. Don’t eat carrot cake. Don’t eat beetroot chocolate cake. I’ll have your share. But if you’re offered good ones, you’d never know you were ingesting vegetables anyway. Your fish cakes sound pretty good too.

    • Maybe it’s the names….good point. If “carrot” and ” beetroot” were left out of the titles, it might make a difference. The problem is that a good half of my dislike lies in the fact that the creator of such cakes is PROUD to mention the mad ingredients:)

  13. About the list of uncakiness, let us not forget the Men’s room favorite accoutrement: the urinal cake.

  14. Eha says:

    Oh dear – methinks I better quietly sneak out of here today! Close the door softly!! Carrot and zucchini cakes are probably the only ones I bake, Thai fish cakes are at least a fortnightly offering on the table and I would love to buy thrice as many shiitake mushrooms as I do if only they were not so pricey . . . bye, and hope you have had a great Easter so far 🙂 !

  15. Roger, I must say that I totally agree with you, with carrot…..beetroot cake, what a wast for the chocolate…I am in Love with your fish cakes ….though have to say that it would deserve a greater name than just fish cake….. couldn’t come up with one so far… but as soon I make them I am sure as they will met in my mouth, the baptisms will take it natural way of being inspired for the new name of this boy…..

  16. I enjoyed the comments as much as the post, and I will not even tell you my preferences on all mentioned delicacies.

  17. What a terrific idea. Those look very moreish.

  18. Haha. Effing love it my friend! Will defo be looking for shitcake mushrooms next time I am at market 🙂

  19. Ooo. Nice looking fish cakes. Great post, great comments…great entertainment!

  20. Sounds so much better than the awful salmon loaf I had to eat when I was a child. Canned salmon and saltine crackers. :p

  21. Michelle says:

    Roger, you’re always the only person who ever tempts me to eat salmon (which I abhor). Ah, what beautiful pictures can do to one’s mind…

  22. Flora says:

    I agree! Who needs the vegetable in the cake !

  23. Mary Frances says:

    I shudder at the thought of a terrible fish cake I recently had at a restaurant- rubbery mayonnaise mush with breading on it. Ack! Yours, however, looks fresh and lovely.

  24. Karen says:

    Your fish cake looks great with its crispy brown exterior and what must be a soft and delicious interior. Your comment about beetroot had me laughing out loud…actually your comments are as good as your posts themselves. 😀

  25. I so enjoyed this post. You are very right about the vast use of the word “cake”…cake of soap, things can get caked….caked on….cookies called cakes, cakes called tortes, cakes called cakes….oh my so confusing. Your fish “cakes”, or as we would call them here in the Southern USA “patties” just look delicious no matter what you call them. Let them eat cake indeed!

  26. hoytapeo says:

    Like it!

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