Catherine Berwick's Parsnip & maple syrup cake

Catherine Berwick's Parsnip & maple syrup cake

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(184 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 a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 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…

  • 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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12th Oct, 2019
So good! I did have to bake it 15 minutes longer, though. Even then it didn't spring back when I pressed it lightly. I just baked it till it got a nice golden colour. I replaced the eggs with 3 tbsp of ground linseed in 6 tbsp water, and the mascarpone with soy sour cream.
16th Jun, 2019
Disappointed. The cake takes almost 45min to cook not 25min and that was at the fan temperature recommended. Also do not add all the maple syrup into the mascapone for the filling. I only put 3 tablespoons In and it turned into a runny mess. My partner had to use it as a base for a frosting in order to save it . I would recommend adding a tablespoon at a time until you reach the right consistency. Maple syrup and mascapone are not cheap, so I find it frustrating when a recipie mislead you in this manner.
AndyTastes's picture
18th Jun, 2019
maybe you should learn how to bake.
15th Feb, 2019
Took a little longer than stated and batter a trifle runny but superb taste. Will definitely make again.
18th Nov, 2018
Although this cake turned out well and was quite nice I really struggled to taste the maple (save for the filling) which, considering the cost and calories, seems a waste! It's quite similar to a recipe I use for a winter garden cake but not as delicious, more expensive and has lots more sugar. Won't bother to make again.
22nd Oct, 2018
Made this cake to use up a parsnip surplus. Beautifully light and moist. Recipe worked a treat. Followed quite closely but substituted maple syrup for honey, pecans for walnuts, and muscavado for demerera. Will make again.
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!


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?
Rebecca Deal's picture
Rebecca Deal
16th Oct, 2019
Have made this recipe several times and if there was one tip I'd give to anyone trying this it would be to NOT add the orange juice - this is what makes the cake so heavy and take much longer than the recipe says to bake. Definitely still add the zest though to get that nice orangey note. This recipe also works really well with a cream cheese frosting, especially if you substitute some of the cream cheese with a bit more maple syrup!
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