The Fraggle Foodie: Boober’s Root Cake

Published: April 10, 2023
Categories: Feature, Fun Stuff

Happy Night of the Lights, everyone! OK, it may no longer be “the holiday season,” but as far as I’m concerned, Fraggle holidays—like Fraggle birthdays—can be celebrated whenever one darn well pleases.

As soon as I saw the Back to the Rock holiday special, I knew I had to try to recreate “everybody’s favorite part of Night of the Lights: my holiday root cake!” It’s usually my tradition to watch my favorite Henson holiday stuff while making two or three kinds of Grandma Cook’s Christmas cookies, but this year root cake was enough of an undertaking for me. As usual, Emmet Otter and Rugby Tiger kept me company while I worked.

The thing about Boober’s root cake (and, by extension, the trope of fruit cake) is that only one person is excited about it and everyone else hates it. So, I set out to make two versions: one I would probably enjoy (if it worked out) and one I definitely would not.

I Frankensteined this recipe together from three recipes I found when searching for “root vegetable cake.” And, as any baker knows, experimental baking is a huge gamble. Cooking is an art, but baking is a science; screw up one step or ingredient, and the whole thing is ruined. The good news was that a vegetable cake is nothing new—I love carrot cake and zucchini cake. And apparently beet brownies are a thing? The fact that I was able to whittle down my base recipes from six to three made me optimistic that this was not as foolish an undertaking as the Doozer sticks.

For Version 1 (the one I hoped to enjoy), I included:

  • radishes (duh), turnip, and parsnip
  • dates
  • pecans

And for Version 2 (the cursed one from the depths of Hades), I added:

  • beets
  • maraschino cherries
  • black licorice
  • walnuts

The funny thing about beets is that I spent years thinking they were like cilantro: either you like beets, or you have the gene that makes them taste gross. I figured I was in the minority that thought they tasted like dirt. Then one day I said as much to a friend who replied, “Yup. Delicious, delicious dirt.” So apparently beets taste like dirt to everyone and some people are just into that?? You do you, I guess.

I added the maraschino cherries to this version because they’re traditionally in fruit cake, but to me they taste like cough medicine. Then I threw in black licorice because why not make it taste like DayQuil and NyQuil!

Luckily, my mom likes all of those ingredients, so I just froze that loaf and took it with me on my holiday travels. I have now officially become the weird aunt bringing fruit cake that no one but Grandma likes (and am therefore one step closer to my life goal of becoming Aunt Granny Fraggle).

Now, Boober’s version has these weird patches of purple, red, and green that are probably meant to be chunks of the aforementioned root vegetables, but honestly they just kinda look like bits of construction paper stuck on the outside.

So that’s what I tried to recreate—I saved some of the purple peel from the turnip, some of the red peels from the radishes, and some of the radish leaves. Halfway through baking, I sprinkled them on top of each loaf like some sort of huge, confusing, edible confetti. And in the end I just peeled them off before adding the icing anyway. (And yes, I know Boober’s version doesn’t have icing, but come on.)

Here’s what I did, with this recipe cobbled together from Dinner With Julie, Pies and Plots, and The Mindful Peanut:

Dry ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp  baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 packed cups grated root vegetables
  • 1 cup applesauce (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 1 cup chopped fruit
  • 1/2 C chopped nuts
  • 1/3 C maple syrup
  • zest of 1 orange
  • juice of 1/2 an orange (save the other half for the icing)

Orange cream cheese icing:

  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 8 oz cream cheese


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two loaf pans with butter or nonstick spray.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.
  • In a smaller bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients one cup at a time and stir by hand until almost combined. Add the nuts and dried fruit and stir just until the batter is blended.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until it passes the clean knife test. If the edges start to brown before the inside is fully cooked, cover with tin foil and continue baking.
  • Cool the cake(s) in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then loosen the edge with a knife, and invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. If you decide to frost the cake, make sure it is completely cool first, or the frosting will melt and slide down the sides.

So, how did it turn out?

It’s good, y’all! The spices and orange come through way more than any vegetal flavors. The bottom and sides were a little darker and tougher than I’d like, so next time I’d try a lower temperature for longer (or a higher temperature for shorter? I don’t know how baking works [yes I went to pastry school but it was only a 9-month program at one of those predatory for-profit colleges that is now defunct {and yet I still have to pay student loans for it}]).

The icing was very runny, and the recipe made a lot more than expected, so either be okay with that and use the extra as a sort of root cake fondue, or use less orange juice and more powdered sugar and/or cut down the recipe.

All in all, I would definitely make this again, either for a Muppets-themed holiday party, or with more traditional veggies like carrots and zucchini.

This cake really does remind me of “The Night of the Lights.” Not the million wigglers in the goopy goop part, but because there’s magic enough in the world for all of our different wishes to come true. Some people would rather have meaningful words than a physical gift. Some people spend hours trying to recreate recipes from Fraggle Rock just because. And some people like beets and black licorice. Happy [belated] Night of the Lights to us all!

Click here to offer a slice of root cake to Coop on the ToughPigs forum!

by Beth Cook

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