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  • Spiced Parsnip Cake
  • Spiced Parsnip Cake
  • Spiced Parsnip Cake
  • Spiced Parsnip Cake
  • Spiced Parsnip Cake
  • Spiced Parsnip Cake
  • Spiced Parsnip Cake

Spiced Parsnip Cake

Food | September 26, 2017 | Nik Manojlovich
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
  • 80
  • 12-48
  • Moderate

This scrumptious dessert is so tasty, we doubt just one piece will satisfy. Go ahead and ask for seconds – this SPICED PARSNIP CAKE is meant to be enjoyed.

I am crazy in love with this recipe for SPICED PARSNIP CAKE, and I better begin by extending heartfelt thanks to the two people I love who inspired it, my cousin Linda and my sister Dana.

A few months back I sent out a request to friends and family asking, “Who has a killer recipe for carrot cake?” Linda wrote back with a recipe that caught my eye because the cake used eggs and oil but no milk. Dana’s recipe was good too, but what I loved about her submission was a little-handwritten addendum: “also tasty, when made with parsnips.” Parsnips! I knew I’d just been handed a dessert challenge!

After many attempts and fine tweaking, here’s a cake I’m proud to recommend for the cool fall months. Here’s what I learned:

PARSNIPS – These stars of the recipe have a unique flavour I can’t get enough of, especially when it shines alongside the sweet and spicy cake.

PEARS AND GINGER – Almost every carrot cake recipe you see calls for the addition of pineapple, and although I get it, I thought this cake deserved a fruit component that speaks to the season. Grating the pears (try Barlett, Bosc or Forelle) and adding them to the parsnip gives the cake a lovely fruit flavour. The grated fresh ginger adds a hint of heat. I also add a tiny slice of sugared or candied ginger onto each piece of cake as part of the garnish. You can find it at bulk food stores.

SPICES – Cinnamon seems ideal for a cake like this, but then I started trying the recipe with different spices. In the end, the winning combination was cinnamon and ground ginger with freshly ground coriander and cardamom to bring the spiciness of the cake to perfection.

NUTS AND SEEDS – The fresh walnuts and pecans are outstanding this time of year, and I like the pumpkin seeds for their subtle flavour. Roughly chop these three ingredients if you enjoy larger pieces in your dessert.

ICING – The icing is simple and straightforward and I just loved how the addition of lemon juice and spices make that cream cheese taste so darn good.

PRESENTATION – Make sure you watch the video where I explain how an accident became the signature look of this dessert, and it’s all thanks to a cross-wire rack! The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity, whether you serve it with nothing more than a dusting of icing sugar or a rosette of the spiced icing. You can serve this cake on individual plates or, on a platter or cake stand from a dessert station.

Menu ideas? How about our POTATO AND LEEK soup as a first course followed by a flavourful main like our BREADED PORK CHOPS . Then serve this cake as the perfect ending to a delicious meal!

SPICED PARSNIP CAKE is an excellent adventure in creating a simple yet unique dessert.


11 Responses to “Spiced Parsnip Cake”

  1. Carol says:

    This recipe would be great to try, and that is just what I will be doing.I know so often those seemingly unlikely vegetables can turn into such tasty and different cakes or desserts. I was wondering if I could use regular vegetable oil in this recipe, or even avocado oil or olive oil that I have on hand?

    • Nik Manojlovich says:

      Hi Carol – Thanks for writing in. So… for sure, you can substitute the vegetable oil in and you’ll end up with the same great results. I’m a bit hesitant to give you the “go ahead” with the avocado oil, solely because it has a slower absorption rate than a vegetable, canola or nut oil. My instinct says it will work – but I feel bad that you’re the one who’s going to find out, good or bad! If you do an experiment, we’d love you to share your findings… please. Last thing – I LOVE THIS CAKE… hope you will too! Big hugs from here to there… N

  2. seka kovacevic says:

    Super idea using parsnips and pears! So thrilled to be also serving Lena Pita and Easter Bread for Serbian Easter. Biggest thrill of all? Seeing my old friend Nik.

  3. […] When something tastes as good as this, I immediately think of calling friends and family to the table for a dinner party! In thinking about the complete meal idea, this recipe deserves an equally memorable starter and dessert. To begin, try our FALL SALAD WITH KALE AND PLUMS, and after everyone has enjoyed our VEGAN VEGETABLE CURRY, finish things off with our SPICED PARSNIP CAKE. […]

  4. […] pies aren’t creamy enough already. You can also end the meal with a showstopping dessert like our SPICED PARSNIP CAKE, our BUTTERNUT SQUASH STRUDEL or our easy, peasy BAKED STUFFED […]

  5. Andrea says:

    This cake looks awesome!. I’m gluten free so I’m going to make it for family according to the recipe, take a bite so I know what it should be like and then see if I can adapt it to a gluten free flour blend.

  6. millie b says:

    I made this recipe 2 days ago. It is expertly balanced with warm spices and the cake’s crumb is very moist & tender. I did not purchase walnut oil in stock, so I substituted that with the canola oil. instead of walnuts I used pecans. The flavor combination of the parsnip & pear is elegantly subtle and is complimented beautifully by the slight kick from the fresh ginger. The use of coriander is quite a surprise, but all the ingredients really work so well together. I made 1/2 the recipe into large muffins & topped each with my favorite crumble (streusel). I had a few colleagues taste them & everyone loved this winning recipe! When I have a little more time I will bake this again into a layered cake with cream cheese frosting. This recipe is so delicious! Thank you!!

  7. […] CAKE, but after making it, we began dreaming up other uses. It ‘will certainly work with our SPICED PARSNIP CAKE, but we’re thinking it’ll taste great with everything from a simple white cake to a RED VELVET […]

  8. […] out our cheat cakes: a nutty WHISKY CAKE or a classic HARVEY WALLBANGER. You might also like this SPICED PARSNIP CAKE or our pride and joy, this TOASTED COCONUT LAYER CAKE. Each and every one […]


Ingredients & Amounts

  • ½ cup of walnuts
  • ½ cup of pecans
  • ½ cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 2 parsnips, peeled
  • 2 pears, peeled and cored
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cups of unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon each of ground ginger, ground coriander and ground cardamom
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • ¾ of a cup of canola oil
  • ¾ of a cup of walnut oil
  • 4 extra large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 package of cream cheese, room temperature (250 g)
  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature (½ cup)
  • 3 cups of icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of ground ginger
  • pieces of roasted parsnip (instructions below)
  • slices of candied ginger
  • sprinkle of cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in the middle and lower positions. Butter and flour a 9x13” baking dish and set aside.
  2. Place walnuts, pecans and pumpkin seeds into a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.
  3. Cut off a 4” portion of parsnip and slice into ¼” rounds. Divide each round in half and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with vegetable oil and a sprinkle of sugar and set aside.
  4. Add the rest of the parsnips into the chimney of the food processor set with a fine grate attachment and process until grated. Grate the pears in the same fashion. Place parsnips, pear and ginger into a medium-sized bowl and toss together.
  5. Place dry ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together, then pass through a sifter. Set aside.
  6. Place sugar and oils into a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in three steps, mixing well after the addition of each. Add vanilla extract and stir together. Add nuts and parsnip/pear/ginger blend and stir until everything is well combined.
  7. Transfer to prepared baking pan and place into oven on middle rack for 1 hour. Place baking sheet with parsnip sections on lower rack for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and cool. After 5 minutes, turn cake out onto a cross-wire rack and cool completely. Cut into 12 large square pieces or 48 smaller square pieces.
  9. To serve without spiced icing, dust pieces with icing sugar and serve.
  10. Prepare the icing: Place cream cheese and butter into a medium-sized bowl and beat with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add icing sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and ginger and beat until combined. Place icing into a pastry bag fitted with a 4B star-shaped nib.
  11. Pipe icing into a rosette shape on top of each piece of cake, then add a portion of roasted parsnip and a piece of sliced candied ginger. Dust with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serve.

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Nik Manojlovich

Nik is the creator, host and brains behind Weekend at the Cottage. He loves sharing his wisdom and experience about the things that interest him most.



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