Wildcard Winner

Spiced Parsnip Cake

By • December 2, 2013 • 26 Comments

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Every Monday and Wednesday, we'll announce a new Wildcard winner: a recipe that may not have been entered in (or won) a contest, but a recipe that we've tested and loved.

Today: Move over, carrots; there's a new cake in town.

Spiced Parsnip Cake from Food52 

WHO: Hardlikearmour is a veterinarian, baker, cake decorator, and Food52 all star. She lives in Portland.

WHAT: A lighter, fluffier carrot cake -- using parsnips instead!

HOW: Shred your parsnips, fold your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients, and bake. Top with a maple-buttermilk glaze.  

WHY WE LOVE IT: This is one of those recipes we saw and said to ourselves: Why didn't we think of this earlier? And in this cake, parsnips don't just stand in for carrots; the whole cake is lighter, airier, and more delicate than any carrot cake we've had. The parsnip is the star of the show -- with the almond, spices, maple, and coconut as the snazzy backup dancers. We ate this for breakfast and were grinning the rest of the day.

Spiced Parsnip Cake by hardlikearmour

Makes one 9x13-inch cake

Spiced Parsnip Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
1/2 cup almond meal flour (2 ounces)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (1 1/2 ounces)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon French four spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup maple syrup (grade B preferred)
3/4 cup superfine or castor sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups shredded parsnips (about 2 large parsnips)

Maple Buttermilk Glaze

1/4 cup maple syrup (grade B preferred)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Tags: cake, wildcard, holiday, parsnip cake, parsnips

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Comments (26)


5 months ago sarabclever

Well since I just polished off carrot cake it's obviously time to make parsnip cake!


over 1 year ago shellie

Recipe Maven: I didn't detect even the slightest hint of coconut flavor. I suspect it's more of a texture thing. You could probably leave it out though and substitute with an equal amount of additional grated parsnips.


over 1 year ago shellie

Made it last night for a dinner party, it was a HUGE hit! I didn't have a 9x13 baking pan at my disposal so I used an 8x8 baking pan plus muffin tins. It was the perfect amount for the 8x8 plus 6 lovely muffins (felt more like a muffin than a cupcake, as the batter is dense, although if you want to call them cupcakes, be my guest!). I filled the muffin cups 3/4 full and they came out with a lovely domed top. I ended up with too much glaze -- could have made only 1/2 or 2/3 of the amount and been fine. This recipe is delish!


over 1 year ago Teresa Sia

What is parsnip?


over 1 year ago Recipe Maven

opinions on whether this tastes like coconut? If so, any ideas for a substitute for the coconut? Not a fan of coconut but I have made other recipes that use it where texture gets added much more than flavor.


over 1 year ago Dianecpa

I have two parsnips in my fridge and almond meal and coconut in the cabinet...done!


over 1 year ago Brette Warshaw

Loved this recipe, HLA. Definitely making again!


over 1 year ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Congrats HLA! Parsnips on my shopping list!


over 1 year ago Diana Zahuranec

Looks delicious, but I always balk at using that much precious maple syrup unless it's poured over a pancake or waffle. Best substitution?


over 1 year ago Bevi

I made this cake last night, and IMO using the amount of maple syrup called for is well worth it! As HLA suggests, perhaps you can make a cream cheese frosting and therefore use only 1/2 cup maple syrup for the cake. Congrats HLA!


over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, Bevi. I've not done it but if I were going to substitute for the maple syrup I'd use 2/3 cup brown sugar and increase the buttermilk by 2 T (for the cake portion). I'd also probably use a brown sugar syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water) for the icing.


over 1 year ago nancy@jamjnr

Yum!!! Making this today I need a couple of hours in the kitchen to de stress and this is perfect!


over 1 year ago jwlucas

Very tempting - but what is French four spice?


over 1 year ago Bevi

It is a combination of ground nutmeg, ground cloves, white pepper, and ground ginger. You can find various recipes for French Four spice on the internet. Gourmet
has a recipe online.


over 1 year ago Hope :)

Yum. Sign me up. I confess I've never cared one way or the other about parsnips -- they generally are a bit bland for my taste -- but this recipe just might be the one that changes my tune. ;)


over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I am thrilled this recipe got a WC! It has a special place in my heart. Thank you all!!!


over 1 year ago lapadia

Parsnips in the garden, here I come:) Congrats!!


over 1 year ago cookinginvictoria

Congrats, Sara -- love this recipe! I've been a big fan of this cake ever since it graced the table at our Pacific Northwest meet-up, celebrating the first Food52 cookbook, a few years back. In the fall, I buy parsnips just to make this delicious cake! :)


over 1 year ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I've been meaning to make this cake, Congratulations on the WC, it just sounds delicious


over 1 year ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Hey, Sara, congrats on the wild card win!! Saving this!


over 1 year ago gingerroot

Yipee! Congrats on a well deserved wild card!!


over 1 year ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Oh and a huge congrats on the wild card win :-)


over 1 year ago TheWimpyVegetarian

GREAT idea, HLA! I love this. Saving right now!!