Friday, March 2, 2012


by Sheila Connolly

Parsnip cake recipes are most often found amongst English recipes, while we in the U.S. have our carrot cakes.  Yet they two vegetables are similar, and I think the parsnip has a more interesting and intense flavor.  It pairs well with ginger.


1½ cups flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
2 Tblsp finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
½ cup canola oil
½ cup buttermilk
Parsnips – enough to make 1 cup of shredded/chopped parsnip

I'll confess:  the first time I tried this recipe I thought I'd get away with using the shredding disk on my food processor for the parsnips.  Bad idea—the parsnips never really cooked through, and the interior of the cake was a gooey mess.  The next time around I used the regular blade of the food processor and reduced the parsnip to fine crumbs, which worked much better.

Ditto the crystallized ginger.  Chopping it finely with a knife, no matter how sharp, is all but impossible because the ginger is sticky and clings to the knife.  I put that in the food processor and gave it several pulses, and the result was nice and uniform.

Spray a 6-cup baking tin with vegetable oil spray until well coated. (I happened to have an ornamental antique one of the right size.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice).  Mix in the chopped ginger.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs.  Add the oil and buttermilk and whise together.  Add the egg/oil mixture to the dry ingredients and mix.  Stir in the chopped parsnips.  Pour into your pan and bake for 60-70 minutes (test with a toothpick until it comes out clean).  Let cool thoroughly while you make the frosting.


I swear, I'm just going to make this stuff and eat it straight from the bowl—why bother with cake?

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
8 Tblsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup (or more) confectioner's sugar
3 Tblsp maple syrup (dark is good—more flavorful), at room temperature

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and fully incorporated.  Add the vanilla and the maple syrup and blend.  Slowly add the sugar, mixing well.  You can add more sugar if you think the frosting is too thin.

When the cake is cool, frost.  This amount is perfect for a single-layer cake.  You can garnish it with thin slices of crystallized ginger if you like.

This cake is best eaten fresh.

We had to try it, didn't we?



  1. I have never heard of parsnip cake! And never would have thought about it...carrot cake and zucchini bread, yes, but parsnips? I'm intrigued...especially by the frosting. It's almost harvest time for maple syrup here in WNY-I think I'll have to get some fresh stuff and make the frosting!

  2. Me too, me too, the icing looks glorious! Sheila, I have to say if I'd made it once and it turned out gooey, I would not have tried it again:).

    Can't wait for the new book--stunning cover and great title!

  3. Parsnips are delicious. I like the sweetness they bring to stews and soups, and I've never seen a recipe that uses them in cake. Wonderful!

  4. Sheila, I've never heard of parsnip cake, either! The ingredients sound terrific, so I don't see how it could be anything but delicious.

    I have to say that I've been through the same issues with the food processor. For those who might be tempted, never try to chop dried apricots in the food processor. Sticky mess! I think one of the recipes from the 2010 cookie contest gave instructions to process crystallized ginger with sugar in the recipe and that worked out well, as I recall.

    ~ Krista