Catherine Berwick's Parsnip & maple syrup cake

Catherine Berwick's Parsnip & maple syrup cake

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(161 ratings)

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 45 mins


Serves 8
The winner of Good Food's 20th birthday cake competition, we think this is the new carrot cake

Nutrition and extra info

  • Unfilled sponges can be frozen


  • kcal697
  • fat41g
  • saturates22g
  • carbs79g
  • sugars52g
  • fibre3g
  • protein8g
  • salt1.12g
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  • 175g butter, plus extra for greasing



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 250g demerara sugar
  • 100ml maple syrup
    Maple syrup

    Maple syrup

    may-pul sir-rup

    The rising spring sap of a number of varieties of maple tree

  • 3 large eggs



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
    Baking powder

    Baking powder

    bay-king pow-dah

    Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…

  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 250g parsnips, peeled and grated



    The fact that the parsnip is a member of the carrot family comes as no surprise - it looks just…

  • 1 medium eating apple, peeled, cored and grated



    Grown in temperate regions, apples are one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits. There are…

  • 50g pecans, roughly chopped
    Pecan nuts



    Related to the walnut, pecans are native to America, and grow enclosed in a glossy, browny-red…

  • zest and juice 1 small orange



    One of the best-known citrus fruits, oranges aren't necessarily orange - some varieties are…

  • icing sugar, to serve

For the filling

  • 250g tub mascarpone
  • 3-4 tbsp maple syrup
    Maple syrup

    Maple syrup

    may-pul sir-rup

    The rising spring sap of a number of varieties of maple tree


  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease 2 x 20cm sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment. Melt butter, sugar and maple syrup in a pan over gentle heat, then cool slightly. Whisk the eggs into this mixture, then stir in the flour, baking powder and mixed spice, followed by the grated parsnip, apple, chopped pecans, orange zest and juice. Divide between the tins, then bake for 25-30 mins until the tops spring back when pressed lightly.

  2. Cool the cakes slightly in the tins before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely. Just before serving, mix together the mascarpone and maple syrup. Spread over one cake and sandwich with the other. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Elen Southgate's picture
Elen Southgate
13th Sep, 2018
I've made this cake many times over the last few years and each time it has been so delicious! The icing can get a little runny, but it's easily corrected with more icing sugar or a little butter. We made this as the main tier of our wedding cake earlier this year (with a modified maple and cream cheese buttercream). It was perfect once again. I love this recipe!
25th Sep, 2017
I made this cake for my husband birthday this weekend. I found the recipe by chance and found it intriguing - very different. Well it turned out exactly how it looked in the picture and tasted amazing - everyone loved it. I gave it an extra 10-15 minutes in the oven (electric fan, cooks better imo) and it was perfect. I used everything according to the recipe. Not sure why people used cream cheese (Philadelphia) as that just can't taste right - stick to mascarpone..I made sure I got everything from the store prior to making the cake. I had fun grating the parsnips - it's a little work but it's fun as you feel you have really put all effort in to the cake. This cake has the consistency of banana cake, very moist, almost damp, with a real dense texture. For those few saying it never rose much, it isn't meant to as it's not an airy sponge cake, so don't worry. And also, someone mentioned it never tasted like parsnip - it isn't meant to, it's all about the balance of the flavours working together - it's just a hint. An example: You add pesto to an Italian dish, but don't expect to taste the pesto over everything. I dusted it with icing sugar for the finished look and "Voila!". Best kept in fridge - I keep all my cakes in the fridge and they taste so much better, plus keep fresher for way longer. Just take them out a little before serving if you like it slightly off fridge temp (unlike us). I used 5 eggs as my eggs were medium. Oh and use Buckwood Maple Syrup - don't scrimp on that, this cake requires all the best ingredients or it won't live up to standards ;)
Greystone Hairstyle
19th Jun, 2017
I made this cake for a charity event at work - it went down a storm. As mentioned by other reviewers, the cooking time was longer than stated (in my case 15 minutes longer) and I also had some issues with the filling (although the very hot and humid weather may have had an effect) - it was very runny however fortunately the addition of some icing sugar rescued it. This is a gorgeous cake, moist and full of flavour and I'd definitely make it again.
21st Mar, 2017
Amazing! This is now my mums favourite ever cake!
Frances Claire
11th Mar, 2017
Really moist and tasty cake. It took 40-45 minutes to cook for me at 180.
1st Jan, 2017
My son wasn't at all keen on the sound of it...what on earth was I thinking of putting parsnips in a cake??? I went ahead and made it anyway and he had to eat his words...and all of the cake! I followed the recipe exactly, apart from using a cream cheese filling as I forgot to buy marscapone. I found it needed an extra five to ten minutes in the oven over the stated time. I'd highly recommend using a food processor for the parsnip grating though! All in all it was a huge success and I'll be baking another next weekend. I can't remember the last time a cake was devoured as quickly!
27th Nov, 2016
I just made this, and despite following the recipe exactly it took over an hour to bake, and is still partially raw inside but crispy outside? What did I do wrong? :(
17th Oct, 2016
I've lost count of the amount of times I've made this cake now - easily in double figures - and it comes out a treat every time. I've never had anyone who didn't love it, which is why I keep making it! It sometimes requires an extra 5-10 minutes than stated, but otherwise follow it to the recipe and it'll come out a treat. It's now my boyfriends favourite cake ever (much to his mother's dismay). The mascarpone filling is spot on - don't be tempted to swap it for buttercream as it brings a slightly more savoury taste to the cake which otherwise would be too sweet, just make sure you use a full fat version and don't mix it too much or it will go too runny to spread. Believe the positive comments - if it's gone wrong it's not the recipe's fault...
14th Feb, 2016
Had this as a Valentine treat and it is just delicious (and a great way to use up a surfeit of parsnips!).
29th Jan, 2016
Flat, undercooked despite being in for 15 mins extra, dense and doughy. Won't be bothering with this recipe again.


21st Apr, 2016
I have an allergy to oranges ☹️ Do you think lemon would work instead?
30th Nov, 2014
Has anyone tried freezing the icing (separately from the cake)? I know mascarpone can separate when frozen, but you can whip it back to smoothness. Just wondering if it works ok with the maple syrup in it, or best to add maple syrup once defrosted.
21st Apr, 2014
Would it be ok to make the cakes a day ahead and then assemble before serving?
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