Cuisine Fiend

parsnip cake



Parsnip cake

There are loads of wonderful cakes made with weird ingredients: would you have thought of using tahini in a cake? Exactly, and it works a treat.

Vegetables in cakes are an age-old bone of contention. I know people who firmly believe veg belong with gravy on a dinner plate - in fact I used to be one of them, until carrot converted me. Beet and zucchini are widely used too and make good cakes - because the value that vegetables add is - sorry, there’s no escaping this word - moistness.

Parsnip is significantly less common but I thought: ‘why the hell not?’. Carrot cake is so successful and everyone’s favourite, why not the poor cousin? Admittedly I figured juiciness might be problematic, as parsnips have none of it. But it’s as sweet as a carrot and much more so than a courgette.

The parsnips have to be grated quire finely and orange makes the difference, otherwise the cake is rather bland. It’s an easy gig though, and forgiving: add raisins and spice for festive cheer or leave it plain. Top with cream cheese frosting so parsnips ape carrots or glaze with some melted apricot jam. Lemon icing. A dusting of icing sugar. Anything goes happily.

  • 160g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 200g light soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • zest grated from two large oranges
  • 200g finely grated parsnips
  • 80g raisins or sultanas

Parsnips and oranges


Place the flour in a bowl and stir in the cinnamon and the baking powder, put to one side.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Butter and flour, or line with parchment,  a large loaf tin.

Beat the sugar with the oil with a hand held or in a standing mixer. Add the eggs and the orange zest and beat in well. Stir in the grated parsnips followed by the flour and mix it in. Stir in the raisins.

Making parsnip cake

Pour the mix into the prepared tin and bake for about 50 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin.

You can drizzle orange icing over the cooled cake or top it with an apricot jam glaze.

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