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Spiced Parsnip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Parsnips don’t get as much credit as they deserve, so they often go un-ordered and un-used. But this twist on classic carrot cake swaps in the under-appreciated root veggie in place of carrots and truly gives parsnips their moment to shine. The naturally sweet-meets-spicy flavor of parsnips works wonders as the base for this spiced cake.

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Spiced Parsnip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Misfits Market


Love carrot cake? Switch out carrots for knobby winter parsnips and you’ll be in love all over again. Still got some cake flour kicking around? To substitute cake flour for all-purpose flour, use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour for every cup of all-purpose flour.



Dry Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1½ cups plus 3 tablespoons cake flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted pistachios, walnuts, or pecans, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup, plus 3 tablespoons neutral oil like vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 23 tablespoons orange zest (the zest of 2 medium-small oranges)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups parsnips, peeled and grated (about 4)


  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter two, 8.5-inch non-stick baking pans. Cut parchment paper in a circle and butter the parchment. 
  3. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients: flour, baking soda/powder, and all spices. Add sugars, pistachios, and raisins and mix well.
  4. In a smaller bowl, combine grated parsnips, eggs, orange zest, and oil. Then, carefully mix all the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients. The batter will be dense, thick, and not pourable. 
  5. Divide mixture evenly between the two cake tins. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the center.
  6. Remove cakes and allow them to cook. Then, turn them out onto on a wire rack and let cool completely. 
  7. Make the frosting: In a bowl, mix room-temperature butter and cream cheese together, and then add the confectioners’ sugar. Don’t over beat. Refrigerate until needed. When cakes are cool, generously sandwich together both cakes with frosting. Add frosting to the top.
  8. Slice, serve, and enjoy!