Catherine Berwick's Parsnip & maple syrup cake

Catherine Berwick's Parsnip & maple syrup cake

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(180 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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27th Mar, 2015
This is a really moist and delicious cake. I always change the frosting to try out different things. A fudge butter icing in the middle with orange cream cheese frosting on top was lovely but might be a bit rich for some. And don't bother grating anything. I stick it all in small batches in my mini chopper, it's so quick and easy and it doesn't even matter if it goes a bit mushy. Just makes the cake even more moist. It's a dense cake but that's how I like my cake! None of this light and fluffy sponge nonsense!
17th Feb, 2015
This cake is unexpectedly superb! I made this cake for my sisters birthday and surprised them all with the flavours at the end. The orange flavour is strong, although it goes well with the texture of the cake. Next time I will definitely grate the parsnip in a food processor!
1st Dec, 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.
26th Nov, 2014
Absolutely delicious cake, five stars out of five for texture and flavour. I made this for the Reddit "52weeksofcooking" challenge for "Unexpected combinations". It's far superior to carrot cake: silkier, lighter, better texture, no "carroty" flavour or stringiness. Mine was moist and also denser than a regular sponge, but I wouldn't say it was "leaden heavy", it was actually quite light. Sadly or happily, depending on your view, you really can't taste the parsnips in this (so great for a "hidden vegetables" dish for fussy eaters). As many others have mentioned the marscapone while delicious is far too runny, even without the maple syrup. I used less syrup, added a heap of icing sugar and it was still too runny. Cream cheese sounds like a wiser bet. I would only probably make this cake again on request or if I had a glut of parships, because it was a faff to grate them (plus the apple) and I don't make carrot cake anyway. I agree with hvd201 that those with weak wrists should avoid it. You could try using an electric chopper perhaps, but the texture probably wouldn't be as silky and light and fine.
7th Oct, 2014
Absolutely gorgeous cake! Took this to work as "mystery ingredient" cake as I thought people might be put off, and everyone loved it. I would say that it took an extra 10 mins to bake as others have said, and I'd also say that parsnips are a LOT harder to grate than carrots! Well worth it though. The icing is delicious and I'd have happily eaten spoonfuls on it's own lol.
Rachel Ivy
2nd May, 2014
Made this for some friends, and they were all intrigued to know what was in it - definitely a hit. I didn't have maple syrup, so just used golden syrup, which worked fine, and actually, mostly you just taste the spices in the finished cake. I wonder therefore, given the amount of spices in the cake, whether these mask the flavour of the maple syrup? I used cream cheese, butter and icing sugar for the filling, as I didn't have mascarpone, and that worked fine. Will be making again next time I have lots of parsnips to finish off.
3rd Apr, 2014
I made this, and there was pretty much no crumb to the cake it was so dense. I cooked it for longer than advised, until a skewer came out clean. Followed the directions pretty exactly, so not sure what went wrong? It's never happened to me before.
21st Mar, 2014
This cake is nice but I can't help but think that life is too short to grate parsnips for a cake. If you plan on grating by hand then don't attempt this recipe if you have weak wrists or tire easily as I found it took a surprisingly long time and amount of energy to grate the parsnips. I needed to bake it for longer than stated, an extra ten minutes or so. I only had 17cms sandwich tins so I filled them half way (as you would for the 20cms tins) and used the remaining mix in muffin cases. I baked the cakes and muffins separately to avoid them sinking and having to open the oven door. I baked it in an AGA by placing a cold shelf on the second from bottom shelf and then the rack on the bottom of the AGA and the cake tins directly on the rack.
10th Mar, 2014
Thought I'd try this recipe as an alternative to carrot cake and I'm so glad I did! It's delicious! It went down a treat at work. Will definitely make this one again.
23rd Feb, 2014
This may seem weird but add a tablespoon of fish oil it tastes amazing!!!!


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