Christmas Spiced Parsnip Cake


The first time I heard about parsnip cake was only a month ago. I did a photo job for a Swedish bakery and they wanted a photo of a parsnip cake as it, apparently, is a classic Swedish dessert. I have lived in Sweden my entire life and baked countless amounts of cakes but never encountered it before, so I am not sure I would go as far as calling it a Swedish classic. It is however wildly delicious and a very pleasant way to incorporate more vegetables in your life. Perhaps we can make it a future classic? The parsnip cake is cousin with the carrot cake but the parsnips add some very unique mild root tones along with the traditionally sweet taste and moist consistency. And just like its cousin, it develops in flavour so it is even more flavourful after a day in the fridge.

Since Christmas is coming up, we spiced the cake with warm tones like ginger, cinnamon and clove that go perfectly with the flavour from the roots. It might not be the most traditional Christmas cake on the table but I am quite certain that Santa won’t mind. It is topped with orange flavoured quark cheese or cream cheese, orange zest and roasted hazelnuts. If you can’t find quark, you can make a sweet quick version of labneh instead by mixing 2 cups greek yogurt with 1-2 tbsp maple syrup and some orange juice and strain it in cheese cloth for a few hours until it is firm enough to spread on a cake.

Spiced_parsnip_cake_2 Spiced_parsnip_cake_3 Spiced_parsnip_cake_4

This cake was included in the Christmas update of our Green Kitchen app that we released earlier this week. If you already have the app, you can just hit update to get the 8 Christmas recipes without any extra cost. And while we are talking about the app – it has once again been selected for the AppStore Best of 2014 in Scandinavia and Germany. So exciting! And we got loads of new and exciting stuff lined up for it next year!


Spiced Parsnip Cake
Serves 8

This recipe is gluten free. But if you don’t have any gluten free flours at home, you can replace the oat flour, rice flour and arrowroot with 1 3/4 cups / 200 g spelt flour.

3/4 cup (120 g) rice flour
1 cup (90 g) oat flour
2 tbsp arrow root powder or potato starch
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch clove
1 pinch salt
225 g / 1/2 lb (3 small/medium) parsnips
1 orange, zest
4 eggs
3/4 cup / 160 ml honey or maple syrup
3/4 cup / 160 ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil or cold-pressed olive oil

7 oz / 200 g quark/curd or cream cheese (or unsalted labneh)
1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
1 orange, juice and zest

1 cup / 125 g roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line the sides and base of a 20-22 cm / 8-9 inches springform tin with parchment paper. Sift together the flours, arrowroot, baking powder and spices.
Peel and grate the parsnips (you can keep the peel on if you use organic) and zest the orange.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl until frothy. Add the oil and maple syrup and beat for another minute.
Stir in the parsnip and orange zest and then fold in the flours. Pour the mixture into the prepared springform tin. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool before before removing it from the springform tin.
Make the icing by simply stirring together quark or cream cheese with maple syrup and orange juice. Spread the icing over the cake when it has cooled completely. Garnish with roasted hazelnuts and orange zest.
If you are making it ahead; store the cake in the fridge and add icing and topping just before serving.

PS! We are in Sydney now and just heard (through social media) that our book got a glowing review and was listed as one of the top cookbooks 2014 on BBC Radio 4. You can listen to the broadcast here (about 6.30 min into the show). It is still not too late to order Green Kitchen Travels as Christmas present *wink wink*. Here is a list of webshops that are selling it.


  • alessia
    Just received my *Green Kitchen Stories recipe book* to give to my beloved little sister for Christmas...sooo exciting! As a parsnip lover I MUST try out this cake...I was just wondering though..can I substitute potato starch with corn starch? It's just easier for me to find..thanks a bunch
  • I love every GKS recipe, but this may be one of my favourite things on here yet.
  • I never would have thought to make a cake with parsnips! Thank you for enlightening us! Your photos are gorgeous as usual, and have convinced me to go out today to buy parsnips (seeing as I have all the other ingredients). -Moira
  • Aleksandra T
    Looks delicious, thanks for staying in touch and making our days better even when you're on holiday! Just a quick question, is there any way I can have your app updated if my Iphone isn't a 7.1 version? I keep getiing a notification saying I need a 7.1 or later version for that.
  • Kristine S
    This looks great! A decadent and rustic christmas cake! However, I am actually following a vegan diet, and I wonder if you think it will be possible to make this cake vegan?
  • I would've never thought about putting parsnips in cake, but this sounds and looks absolutely incredible!
  • Pretty with the orange zest and hazelnut topping! Parsnips are very underused on this side of the pond, good to have another idea for using them. I love healthier-style desserts that include fruit, vegetables, or chocolate!
  • Tia
    Hello. I love your recipes! Was just wondering, can I use coconut oil instead of rapeseed oil? Many thanks and keep up the great work- truly lovely blog
  • Since I love carrot cake, I know I will love this cake too. Can't wait to try it!
  • mimi gabor
    can you sub olive oil for rapeseed oil?
  • Samantha
    I love carrot cake so I cannot wait to try this. My husband and I are hosting a Christmas pot luck this weekend sO I think I am going to take a leap of faith and make this as my tasy contribution! Will post pictures x
  • This is such a beautiful, simple, rustic cake! I can't wait to try it. I am really curious about the flavor... Congratulations on the AppStore selection! yay!
  • I was listening to BBC on Sunday and heard the review. I went straight to your blog and have been doing little else but reading your recipes/stories since. Just ordering my cookbook now! Keep up the good work!!! Mandy
  • I LOVE parsnips, but have never heard of them being used in a cake. Such a wonderfully delicious idea!!
  • Such a beautiful thing. I've never heard of a parsnip cake from the Swedish side of my family, but maybe it will make an appearance this Christmas and start a new tradition!
  • Jennifer
    Wow! This is so creative and looks fantastic! It is my understanding however that rapeseed oil, or canola, the majority of the time comes from genetically modified sources. I would probably choose a different oil when making this cake or find an organic alternative.
  • What a great idea !! Your blog is a real enjoyment, recipes always look fresh, yummy et healthy :-)
  • Julie
    Hi there! Can you please clarify what you mean by "some orange juice" when making your own labneh?? Thank you so much!
  • Congratulations on the well-deserved awards and glowing reviews! I'm not a fan of parsnips in general but then I never used to like carrots either, and now I love carrot cake... maybe you will make me like parsnips after all? :)
  • Wow! I would never think to use parsnips in a cake... I'm definitely trying this one soon! Looks absolutely delicious :)
  • I've definitely never heard of parsnip cake, but am happy to see it here! It looks great.
  • What a gorgeous cake, and an inventive use of vegetables (though I am sure that tempering them with all the icing and sugar does something to lower their nutritional value ;)) Whether it's a classic or not, I'd be happy to include it in my repertoire! Thanks for sharing it.
  • I tasted a parsnip cake only a couple of weeks ago and fell madly in love with it. Thank you for sharing this lovely recipe, I must try soon. Hope all is going well down under for you guys – keep us posted with your adventures! xx
  • Parsnip cake?! I happen to have an abundance of CSA parsnips right now, so I think this cake needs to be added to our dessert menu. Perfect timing!
  • Tea
    Looks Amazing! Are you holding any workshops while in sydney?
  • Charlotte
    Stunning! However, when I updated my green kitchen stories app, I only encountered two new recipes, couldn't find this one! Or is it in the desert version?
  • Wow, that is an absolutely gorgeous cake! I've never heard of parsnip cake either, it sounds very interesting though. So many flavors in there to love :)

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