Monday, October 29, 2012


With this Part VI of my October Series entitled „CAKES AND VEGETABLES“ I am presenting the wonderful Parsnip. A sweetly flavored root vegetable, a parsnip resembles a bulky, beige carrot. Parsnips are usually treated in much the same way as potatoes, they can be roasted, mashed, or made into a velvety soup. Parsnips are in season from October to March, but are usually at their best after the first frost. For the best flavor, look for parsnips about the size of a large carrot, with firm, unblemished flesh. If the leaves are still attached to the tops, they should still be green and fresh. Apart from using them in savoury dishes, you can also use them in your baking and make this wonderful Parsnip Spice Cake using freshly grated parsnips and wonderful warm spices, again, try to use the most fragrant and fresh spices that you can. Whenever I buy new spices, I date them and I have made a habit of replacing them every couple of months.

Recipe for the Parsnip Spice Cake

Ingredients for the Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups plain/AP flour
  • 1 cup superfine white sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp baking powder (Iused baking powder with ground saffron)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 eggs, (L) free range or organic
  • 1/2 cup canola oil or vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (I used 3.5% milk)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups (packed) shredded peeled parsnips (about 3 large)
  • 1/2 cup new harvest walnuts, toasted and chopped

Ingredients for the Frosting (optional)

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (about 12 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted


  • a 13x9x2 inch baking pan
  • some unbleached parchment paper

Preparation of the Cake

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Butter a 13x9x2-inch baking pan, line with parchment paper, butter again.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla to combine.
5. Pour the egg mixture over dry ingredients; stir until just combined.
6. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the grated parsnips and the chopped walnuts.
7. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and using an offset-spatula, smooth the top.
8. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes.
9. Transfer the cake to a wire rack.
10. Cool the cake completely in the pan on the rack.

Preparation of the Frosting

1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
2. Beat in the freshly grated ginger, salt and the pure vanilla extract.
3. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until the frosting is smooth and glossy.
4. Decorate the cake with the frosting as you like - I piped a few rosettes but the frosting is enough to cover the whole cake with a thick layer of frosting.

NOTE: the amount of frosting is enough to cover the cake with a nice thick layer of frosting, if you opt to pipe rosettes, prepare only half the amount of frosting.

This cake is moist with a pronounced spice flavor and it is not overly sweet. The frosting is a wonderful addition to this cake, you can also prepare it without the grated ginger but I would definitely prepare a cream cheese frosting for this cake, it adds just the right amount of sweetness. You could also skip the walnuts or replace them with pecans but nuts are very nice in this cake.

PART VII and the conclusion to my CAKES AND VEGETABLES Series will feature one more cake with beetroot. This time the beetroot will be grated in its raw stage rather than cooked and puréed before being added to the cake.


  1. Well, I certainly adore carrot cake so why not parsnip cake? Especially with a dollop of cream cheese frosting :) Save me a BIG slice!

    1. Liz, thanks, this cake is actually very similar to a North American style carrot cake but still somewhat less sweet and with a more pronounced spicyness.

  2. My mother always served parsnips and carrots as a veggie dish and I ate and liked it. Parsnips are not a popular not often-used root vegetable in the US (they get no respect!!!) but that just might be changing as more Farmers' Markets pop up around this country. Those are gorgeous parsnips packaged deux by deux in your picture. Your cake sounds interesting.

    1. Mary, thanks for your lovely comments - parsnips do not really get a lot of attention (HA!) I agree. But seriously, they are worth trying out if you can find them at the store.

  3. We eat lots of parsnips in Japan; however, I think this is my first time seeing parsnips in the cake! I love that ginger is in it too. American cakes tend to be way too sweet and not so natural or healthy, and I am attracted to these cakes more. ;)

    1. Nami, I had no idea that the Japanese eat a lot of parsnip - I love to learn about these things. And I prefer these kinds of cakes and cakes with a lot of fruit as well. Much less sweet and with a lot of interesting flavors.

  4. I've never used parsnips in baking, but I really do like them and will have to try this recipe. It looks very moist.