Spiced parsnip cake


parsnip cake

This spiced parsnip cake is pretty special! its packed with flavour and texture and is a real favourite of mine.

I decorated it with some fennel seed pods, because fennel seeds are one of the spicy flavours in this cake. They are just for decoration.

A combination of spices, nuts and orange zest and some sliced candied stem ginger make the cake full of aromatic flavour that makes the parsnip flavour sing.

I basically swapped carrot for parsnip and added a few other things and then frosted it with a mascarpone cream cheese frosting, sweetened with a spiced caramel sauce.

I love carrot cake, but i must admit that parsnip really does make it that little bit more delicious. trust me!

This isnt the first parsnip cake i have shared on here, but this one was probably one of my favourites.

I had to photograph it really quickly as i was taking it to my grandmas house, so it wasnt around for long.

  • fennel seeds
  • sliced spiced parsnip cake

Fennel seeds

Fennel seeds have a slightly aromatic aniseed like flavour, and i love it. Especially with citrus flavours like orange or lemon.

The flavour works well with parsnip.

To get the flavour into this cake, i ground the seeds with a pestle and mortar and added it to the pan. Then toasted them gently and added the butter and melted it.

Then i let it infuse for a few moments before using it for the sponge.

Spiced parsnip cake

I decided to name it a spiced parsnip cake, as there isnt really one flavour that stands out.

The spices i used are, fennel seeds, ginger, cinnamon, all spice and a pinch of ground cardamom.

parsnip cake

Nuts almonds and walnuts

I usually use just walnuts if i make a carrot cake, but i decided to change it a bit for this parsnip adaptation and use a mix or ground almonds, flaked almonds and some chopped walnuts.

spiced parsnip cake

The recipe some notes before you bake

The recipe is the same one that i adapt for more of my vegetable based cakes, i have swapped carrots for grated parsnips here, but i also use grated butternut squash for another recipe. It is really adaptable, you can add any nuts or spices to it.

I use a stand mixer for all my cakes. I use it fitted with the balloon whisk attachment.

Let the mixer whip the melted butter and sugar for about five minutes, before adding the first egg. The scrape around the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Once the first egg is added mix again for 3 to 5 minutes, It should be light and fluffy in colour.

Scrape around the bowl with a spatula, mix again briefly then add the next egg.

I do this with each egg addition, until i have a really pale and fluffy light mixture.

Then remove the bowl from a stand mixer and fold in the other ingredients by hand using a spatula.

sliced spiced parsnip cake

Spiced parsnip cake

an alternative to carrot cake, using parsnips, fennel seeds and spices with nuts, orange and candied ginger.
Course Dessert
Cuisine european
Keyword fennel seeds, Parsnip cake, spice
Servings 8


  • stand mixer with balloon whisk attachment
  • 3 shallow cake tins 8 inch
  • spatula
  • oven


For the sponge

  • 1 and a half teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 250 grams butter (1 cup 2 sticks)
  • 4 eggs
  • 200 grams caster sugar 1 cup
  • 85 grams 1/2 cup soft light brown sugar
  • 190 grams grated parsnip 2 cups
  • 255 grams 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 85 g ground almonds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • pinch of ground cardamom
  • zest from half a large orange
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 30 grams flaked almonds
  • 30 grams walnuts chopped
  • 6 chunks of candied stem ginger finely chopped approx 4 to 5 tbsp finely chopped pieces

caramel for frosting (alternatively you can sweeten with honey or maple syrup instead)

  • 100 grams granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 60 ml 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 90 ml double cream 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp

Other frosting ingredients

  • 500 grams mascarpone cheese
  • 250 ml double cream
  • caramel from above or use 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • extra icing sugar to add more sweetness if needed


  • Grease and line three cake pans (8 inch), and preheat the oven to 160c
  • grind fennel seeds with a pestle and mortar and add to a pan, gently toast for 1 minute then add butter, and melt.
    let cool for 5 minutes.
  • add butter to a mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment and beat in the sugars until pale and well combined. approx 5 minutes. use a spatula and scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again briefly before adding the first egg.
  • beat at a high speed until aerated and fluffy (3 to 5 minutes), stopping to scrape the bowl before adding the next egg, beat again for 3 minutes, then scrape and add the third egg. beat for 3 minutes and scrape the bowl and add the last egg.
    turn up speed and mix for 4 minutes..
  • FINELY grate the parsnips in a food processor, measure out 2 cups or 190g and fold into the mixture with a spatula
  • Mix the flour, baking powder spices, ground almonds and salt together
  • Using a spatula fold in dry ingredients, Then fold in the nuts candied stem ginger, orange zest and milk and orange juice,
  • Divide evenly between the three lined pans and bake for 25-30 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  • let cakes cool for 10 minutes in the tins, then gently turn out and remove paper and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack.


  • I made a caramel to sweeten the frosting, but honey or maple syrup works well too if you don't have time to make it.

to make the caramel

  • grind fennel seeds with a pestle and mortar and pass through a sieve to remove any hard woody bits, mix with cinnamon and set aside.
    Bring the sugar and water to the boil in a high sided pan with out stirring until it turns golden brown and caramelised. you can swirl the pan if you need to once or twice but don't stir.Take pan off the heat and add the spices and slowly add the cream and whisk together, being careful as it can spit.Whisk until smooth and place back on the heat for 1 to 2 minutes more while whisking constantly.let cool.

  • mix the mascarpone and cream until soft peaks, then add the caramel and mix, taste, if not sweet enough add 1/4 cup of icing sugar and mix and taste again. mix until thick but not stiff. spread onto cake and serve.

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