Spiced Parsnip Cake

By hardlikearmour
April 3, 2011
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Author Notes:

I love parsnips. I think they're a very underused vegetable. I found an article in the Oregonian about parsnips in dessert recipes. There was an attached recipe for parsnip cake. Not one to leave well enough alone, I decided to create my own parsnip cake recipe. I used my favorite carrot cake recipe from Better Homes and Gardens that uses a buttermilk glaze in place of cream cheese frosting as my starting point. I wanted to incorporate maple syrup in the cake and the glaze, as I think it complements the parsnips nicely. I tried several spice combinations, and finally settled on French four spice (I used the Penzey's blend which contains white pepper, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves), cinnamon, and ginger. I am quite pleased with the result, and hope you get a chance to try this cake.


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)
  1. Preheat your oven to 325º F with a rack near the center. Grease your 9- by 13-inch glass cake pan with butter or non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Combine the first nine ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk about 30 seconds to fully mix and aerate the flour some. Set aside.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients, excluding the parsnips, in a medium bowl. Whisk well to combine. The sugar should dissolve before proceeding to the next step.
  4. Dump the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until almost incorporated - like making pancake batter. Add the parsnips and stir until just incorporated.
  5. Pour into prepared cake pan, and bake until center springs back or a toothpick inserted near center come out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack, and immediately pour the glaze over the hot cake, trying not to let much glaze spill between the cake and the pan. I sometimes pierce the surface of the cake with a fork to allow the glaze to seep in better.
  6. NOTE: If you prefer, you could allow the cake to cool completely then frost with your favorite cream cheese icing. A little orange zest and/or juice in the icing would work well with the flavors of the cake.

Maple Buttermilk Glaze

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (grade B preferred)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  1. Combine the maple syrup and butter in a glass measure or other microwave safe container. Heat until the maple syrup starts to boil and the butter is melted or close to it. Allow to cool for several minutes, then whisk in the buttermilk.

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