Sunday, October 2, 2011

parsnip cake

Talking to one of the lovely girls in a local shop about the sweet offerings available at a local café, she asked if I’d tried their parsnip cake.  It was better than carrot cake, she claimed.  I hadn’t.  I hadn’t even seen it. Or maybe I’d glanced over the name, parsnip cake and moved on. 

Thinking I’d sample a slice on my next visit, I forgot all about all it until at home I was suddenly sure I had a parsnip cake recipe somewhere.  For once, I connected with the right cookbook first time - hallelujah!  Rather than wait to sample the café’s version, I set about preparing it.  The recipe comes from Julie Le Clerc’s Simple Café Food.

This cake has an earthy appeal when you look at the texture - flecks of parsnip, currants and pineapple.  This might sound daft or contrived but it did bring to mind the image of a parsnip being pulled from the ground with the earth still clinging.  The taste retains some of this earthiness but with a sweet and spicy caramel flavour.  Apparently, parsnips are very high in natural sugar and these caramelise in the baking.

Now there’s only one thing wrong with this cake and that is the name.  Sorry but Parsnip cake just doesn’t do it for me.  I’ve been trying to think of another name but haven’t come up with anything yet.  If cakes can be called Hummingbird then I don’t see why this one shouldn’t have a more fetching name.

It’s definitely delectable and was a big hit in our house so I will absolutely be baking this again.  In the meantime, can anyone think of a better name?...

parsnip cake
1 cup caster sugar
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil I used rice bran oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 large eggs
½ cup crushed pineapple, drained
4 cups grated parsnip
1 1/3 cups plain flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup currants I used raisins – I never seem to have currants
2 tblsp ground cinnamon

lemon cream cheese icing
1 cup cream cheese, softened
50g butter, melted
½ cup caster sugar
grated rind and juice of one lemon

Preheat oven to 160° C.  Grease a 20cm springform cake tin. 

Whisk sugar, oil and vanilla together to combine.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until mixture is creamy.  Stir in pineapple.

Place grated parsnip, flour, salt, baking soda, currants and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Pour in the wet mixture and stir to combine.  Spoon cake mixture into the prepared tin. 

Bake for 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre, comes out clean.  Mine took about 1¼ hours.

When the cake is cold, ice with lemon cream cheese icing.

For the icing
Beat all the ingredients together until creamy.  Spread over cake.

Mmm, more please!


  1. Well I haven't ever had this cake (sounds like it would be delicious though!), but depending on your target market (heh), you could call it "five plus a day" cake (since it has both fruit and veges in!) or "earthy caramel cake with a secret" (I was thinking earth caramel but that had bad mental imagery hehe). I'd personally probably go for the latter. Have also seen parsnips in chocolate cakes, which looks pretty cool!

  2. oh, I think that this must be the best way to eat a parsnip :-)


  3. Sounds great - I would call it sunshine cake. Lovely yellow pineapple and pale parsnips = warm and sunny to me. Keen to try it!


  4. Thank you for your comments and name suggestions!

  5. How about Caramel Cake? I've been wanting to try parsnips in cake for ages, but haven't got around to it yet. I can see that moment getting closer though - this looks really good. Great photos you have BTW.