This deliciously moist parsnip cake with hazelnuts is a quirky twist on a classic carrot cake. Layered with a cream cheese icing, it is easy to make even for novice bakers.
🍴 Why you will love this recipe
If you're a carrot cake lover like me, why not try this delicious twist - parsnip cake with hazelnuts? Parsnips are sweet and earthy so it makes perfect sense to bake them into a cake, as you would carrots.
This is a really easy cake to make with no food mixer needed - just combine the ingredients in a large bowl, then bake.
You could swap in any nuts you like if you don't have hazelnuts to hand - pistachios, walnuts or pecans would be absolutely delicious! For a more intense flavour, toast the nuts in a dry frying pan or under the grill, (but watch carefully, they can burn in seconds!).
📝 What you need
Parsnips This cake is a great way to use up leftover parsnips if you grow your own or have surplus from a roast dinner. You will probably need 2 fairly large parsnips, but do weigh them so you get the right amount.
Hazelnuts are a buttery, creamy nut, and a great pairing with parsnip. If you prefer you could use walnuts, pistachios or pecans instead.
Rapeseed oil is a good flavourless oil for baking - sunflower oil would also work well.
Ground almonds add a moist texture to the cake, but you can blitz more hazelnuts to a fine powder if you like, or swap them out for the same weight of self-raising flour instead.
Soya milk is the best milk to use for baking as it has the highest protein content, but the cake will still turn out well with oat or nut milks instead.
Whilst you don't need a food mixer for the cake mix itself, (a large bowl and a good spatula or spoon will do fine), the icing does really benefit from a good beat in a mixer or with an electric whisk.
A good hand whisk like this one from Morphy Richards *at under £13 will definitely do the job, and will spare your arm from an awful lot of beating by hand.
But a good food mixer, although quite a big investment, really does make a huge difference for very light and fluffy cakes, buttercreams, and also kneading bread or pizza dough, whisking plant cream or aquafaba, and anything else that needs a lot of power. I have this KMix by Kenwood* which is £289 and worth every penny - I've had it for over 10 years now and it is really good quality.
The only other bit of kit that makes a difference is decent cake tins. I love my loose-bottomed tins from Lakeland* - pleasingly heavy, and nothing ever seems to stick.
👩🏽🍳 How to make your Parsnip Cake
For a full, printable recipe with ingredients and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this page 👇🏼 .
In a large bowl mix the self-raising flour, ground almonds, soft brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Peel and grate the parsnips and finely chop the hazelnuts.
Combine the rapeseed oil and soya yoghurt. Mix the wet ingredients into the bowl, then stir through the parsnips, hazelnuts and sultanas.
Divide the cake mix between the two tins and bake for 30-35 minutes. Leave to cool. Make the icing by beating together dairy-free margarine, vegan cream cheese and icing sugar.
Sandwich the two cakes together with icing, then spread the remainder over the top and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.
🔪 Top Tips & FAQs
Storing the cake overnight in an airtight container or tin before icing makes a huge difference to the texture. The crust will become soft and the cake will become even more moist.
As soon as the wet ingredients are mixed into the dry, try to work quickly to get the cakes into the oven as soon as possible. The raising agent will get to work as soon as it is mixed with the yoghurt, and you want this to happen in the oven, not beforehand!
The cakes freeze very well, but the icing doesn't. So you can make the cakes well in advance, put a layer of baking parchment between the two cakes, and freeze in an airtight container. Then defrost and layer with icing before serving.
Yes, this works very well as mini individual layer cakes, (I love this mini loose-based sandwich tin from Lakeland for this), or as cupcakes. The recipe as it is will make 14-16 individual cakes so you may want to reduce the quantities slightly.
If kept in an airtight tin or container the cake stays moist for 3-4 days.
Parsnip Cake with hazelnuts
For the cake:
- 325 g self-raising flour
- 75 g ground almonds
- 240 g light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 250 g parsnips
- 120 g hazelnuts
- 120 g sultanas
- 400 ml soya milk unsweetened
- 160 ml rapeseed oil
For the icing:
- 400 g icing sugar
- 100 g dairy-free block margarine at room temperature
- 100 g dairy-free cream 'cheese'
- 1-2 tablespoon soya milk
- handful hazelnuts
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Grease two 23cm (9 inch) cake tins and line with baking parchment / greaseproof paper.
- In a large bowl combine the self-raising flour, ground almonds, light brown sugar, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt.
- Peel and trim the parsnips and grate them. Chop the hazelnuts.
- Add the soya milk and rapeseed oil into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
- Stir through the parsnip, hazelnuts and sultanas.
- Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for 30-35 minutes until a knife or skewer comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack, peel off the paper and leave until fully cool.
- TOP TIP: If you have time, the cake will be even better if you now put it in an airtight container or tin overnight. The crust will become soft and the cake will become more moist.
For the icing:
- Mix the icing sugar, margarine and cream cheese in a food mixer (or large bowl with a hand whisk), and beat together until completely smooth.
- Add the soya milk one tablespoon at a time until the icing is light and fluffy.
- Sandwich the two cakes together with a layer of icing in the middle (use about one third of the icing for this), and spread the remaining icing over the top of the cake.
- Sprinkle with roughly chopped hazelnuts if you wish.
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