Bakers Journal

Parsnip walnut cake

August 26, 2016
By California Walnut Board

Parsnip Walnut Cake

To assemble as pictured (walnut praline crumble, parsnip candy, walnut butter, lavender and candied walnut ice cream, blackberries and parsnip crisps) visit

As fall approaches, this hearty spiced cake incorporates vegetable, fruit and nuts for a wholesome offering. This recipe is courtesy the California Walnut Board & Commission.

Parsnip walnut cake

  • All-purpose flour – 1-1/4 cups
  • Baking powder –  3/4 plus 1/8 tsp
  • Baking soda –  1-3/4 tsp
  • Salt  –  1-1/2 tsp
  • Cinnamon, ground –   3/4 tsp
  • Ginger, ground  –  1/4 tsp
  • Cloves, ground –   1/4 tsp
  • Nutmeg, freshly grated –   Pinch
  • Sugar  –  1-1/4 cups
  • Canola oil  –  1 cup
  • Vanilla extract  –  1-1/2 tsp
  • Eggs  –  2-1/2
  • Parsnips, peeled, grated  –  1-2/3 cups
  • Granny Smith apples, peeled, finely grated  –  1/2 cup
  • Walnuts, toasted, finely ground to a powder with some of the flour  –  3/4 cup

yield: Serves 12


  1. Preheat oven to 150 C (300 F). Prepare a quarter sheet pan with parchment and spray with nonstick spray.
  2. Sift together dried ingredients; set aside.
  3. Cream the sugar and oil well in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until thoroughly emulsified. Add dried ingredients, mixing only until incorporated.
  4. Fold in parsnips, apples and walnuts.
  5. Transfer batter to prepared sheet tray. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and cake springs back with a light touch. Cool completely. Refrigerate or freeze before cutting.
  6. Trim edges off cake and cut into 3 x 1-inch rectangular portions. Cut each portion in half on the diagonal. Reserve until serving.

TOPPING Suggestions:


  • Walnuts – 2/3 cup
  • Demerara or turbinado sugar –  1/3 cup
  • Tapioca starch –  1/4 cup
  • Butter, melted – 2 tbsp
  • Salt –  3/4 tsp
  1. Place walnuts and tapioca starch in blender, blend until finely ground.
  2. Combine with remaining ingredients, mixing to a crumbled consistency.
  3. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 150 C (300 F) until lightly golden and crunchy.


  • Parsnip, peeled, small dices – 1 cup
  • Sugar –  1 cup + 2 tbsp
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  1. Combine parsnip with sugar, water and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and lightly simmer until parsnips are translucent, about four to five hours.
  2. Strain from the syrup and lay on a silpat-lined sheet pan. Allow to dry at room temperature for two to three days until sugar crystallizes and parsnips are chewy.


  • Walnuts – 1-1/2 cups
  • Neutral or walnut oil – 1-1/2 tbsp
  • Salt – 1/8 tsp
  1.     Toast walnuts 150 C until lightly golden.
  2.     Immediately transfer to a blender and blend on low, increasing speed to high, until walnuts become mealy/powdery.
  3. Slowly add oil and salt, blending until smooth. Make sure oil is completely emulsified with the nuts.
  4. Pass through a fine mesh sieve.


  • Walnuts, lightly toasted – 1/2 cup
  • Sugar – 2-1/2 tbsp
  • Salt – 3/4 tsp
  1. Combine sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Add just enough water to make the sugar sandy in texture.
  2. Cook to 240 F over medium heat. Immediately add walnuts and cook, stirring constantly,
  3. Remove from heat once walnuts are entirely coated with sugar and continue stirring until sugar begins to crystallize.
  4. Transfer to a parchment lined sheet pan to cool.


  • 1 parsnip, peeled, then peeled again into lengthwise strips
  • Oil, for frying
  • Salt
  1. Heat oil to 175 C (350 F).
  2. Fry parsnips strips just until beginning to turn golden.
  3. Immediately remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.

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