For years I’ve thought about making parsnip cake, since reading the recipe for one in the cookbook: Kitchen Sense, by Mitchell Davis.
Lately I’ve been doing more baking than usual, so I’ve finally gotten around to it – and it was absolutely worth it.
Of course I made a few tweaks: I tried it as a loaf, as well as a bundt; I iced it with a citrus glaze; and added nutmeg, so it’s more of a spice cake. But really, my version of this cake is still as you’d find it in the cookbook: it bakes up dense, like zucchini loaf, but also more sweet, similar to a banana bread. As it’s baking the house begins to smell like carrot cake.
Parsnip cake is versatile: I think it would make nice cupcakes with a whipped, piped icing. A layer cake, sandwiched with fig jam would be good. Dark chocolate ganache dripping over the edges of the bundt, would complement the spice, too. The original recipe suggests a layer cake with caramel cream cheese frosting.
When I made the loaf I used a grapefruit glaze; for the bundt, I tried a mix of clementine and grapefruit. Lemon would be fine, too or better yet, orange – or blood orange; those would add a slight hint of colour.
I include the recipe here – as I’ve adapted it – along with my recommendation to bake it the next time you need a cake.
Or the next time it’s an ordinary Wednesday and you feel like baking and eating a cake. I’ve served it as dessert, as part of a brunch, and alongside coffee as a snack. See? Versatile.
Parsnip Cake: adapted from Mitchell Davis’ Kitchen Sense
- 225g soft butter
- 150g each brown sugar and white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 300g white flour
- 170g grated parsnip (raw, peeled)
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars with electric beaters (or a stand mixer) until light and fluffy; beat in the eggs, then the vanilla. Add the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg, and combine. Stir in the flour then the parsnip.
Bake in greased pans, at 350. Check the centre of the baked cake with a wooden skewer; it should have damp crumbs clinging to the skewer, but not be wet with batter.
For a 9×3″ loaf cake, divide the recipe and make just half, or use 2 pans; check the cakes after 30 minutes. The bundt will take 45 minutes, or more. 9″ layers (x2) need 30 minutes. I haven’t tried cupcakes (yet), but would bake them at 400 and start checking them after 12 minutes. I expect the half batter would make a dozen small-ish cakes.
Let the cake(s) cool for ten minutes in their pan before turning out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely if adding icing or glaze.
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 2 tbsp fresh citrus juice: lemon, grapefruit, orange, or other – or a combination
Stir the juice into the icing sugar until completely combined and smooth, using a whisk or fork. Plan to mix the glaze and then use it right away, as it will start to harden. This makes enough for a single loaf or bundt; simply double the recipe if you expect to use more.