Recipe for parsnip cake with orange cream-cheese frosting

Karoline Boehm Goodnick for the Boston Globe

Makes one 9-inch round cake

Parsnips thrive in cold soil. And so, after a hard freeze, when the starch in parsnips has begun turning to sugar, they are especially sweet in slaws, sides, and desserts. In this simple one-bowl cake, grated raw parsnips are the starring ingredient (think carrot cake, which it resembles).


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Butter (for the pan)
½ cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground
teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs
½ cup canola oil
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium parsnips (about 8 ounces total), peeled and shredded on the large holes of a hand grater (about 1½ cups)
½ cup dried cherries

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit it; butter the paper.

2. In a small baking dish, spread the walnuts. Toast them in the oven for 10 minutes, turning often, or until they are browned. Remove from the oven and set aside 2 tablespoons of the walnuts to decorate the cake.

3. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg to blend them thoroughly.

4. In an electric mixer, beat the eggs at medium speed. Add the oil, granulated sugar, and vanilla and beat until blended. Add the flour mixture and parsnips and beat just to mix.

5. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Stir in the cherries and remaining walnuts. Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

6. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan, peel off the parchment paper, and leave to cool completely.


½ large package (4 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room
cups confectioners’
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated rind of 1 orange
2 tablespoons walnuts, toasted (see above)

1. In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until well blended. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla and orange rind.

2. Spread the frosting on the top and sides of the cake and sprinkle the walnuts around the top edge.  Jean Kressy