Parsnip, pecan and apple cake recipe

(62 ratings)

Parsnip, pecan and apple buttermilk cake is such a beautiful and delicious recipe to make - perfect for a special occasion like a birthday or a party

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Preparation Time50 mins
Cooking Time25 mins
Cost RangeNot

Parsnip, pecan and apple buttermilk cake is such a beautiful and impressive recipe to make, which is perfect for a special occasion like a birthday or a party. It's super light and spongey and the buttercream is really smooth, thick and creamy. You'll really surprise friends and family when you tell them your cake has parsnips in it, but they add a really nice subtle sweetness and a nutty edge, plus it means the cake is lower in sugar than an ordinary sponge cake. Sold!


  • 150g parsnips, peeled
  • 120g Pink Lady apples, peeled
  • Juice and zest ¼ lemon
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1¾tsp vanilla extract (we liked Neilsen Massey vanilla for a rich taste)
  • 65g light muscovado sugar, press with the back of a spoon to smooth any lumps
  • 100g buttermilk
  • 100g pecans, lightly toasted, plus a little extra
  • ¾tsp baking powder


  • tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g gluten-free plain flour

To decorate:

  • 125ml whipping cream
  • 125g extra light Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 65g cashew nut butter (we got ours from Sainsbury’s)
  • 3tbsp maple syrup
  • 2tsp milk or water
  • Pink Lady apple chips, to decorate

You will need:

  • 2 x 16cm sandwich tins, greased and lines (base and sides)




  1. Heat the oven to 180C, gas 4. Finely grate the parsnip and apple, then toss in the lemon juice and zest. Using an electric whisk, mix the egg yolks with 1tsp vanilla extract and 1tbsp sugar until pale and creamy, then stir in the buttermilk, parsnips and apple. Blitz the pecans in a food processor until fine. Sift the baking powder, bicarb of soda and flour into a bowl, then mix in the ground pecans.

  2. Whisk the egg whites in a bowl until foamy, turn up the speed and mix until stiff peaks form. Add the rest of the sugar, a spoonful at a time, and mix until glossy and stiff. Fold the flour into the parsnip mixture, then carefully fold in the egg whites.

  3. Once just combined, divide the mixture between 2 x 16cm sandwich tins, greased and lined (base and sides) with baking paper. Gently smooth the tops and bake for 20-25 mins or until springy. Leave to cool.

  4. Mix the cream and cream cheese together until smooth and thick. Spread over the top of one sponge, then set the other sponge on top and press lightly to hold in place. Mix the rest of the vanilla with the maple syrup, cashew butter and milk until smooth - it needs to spread easily, so add more milk if you need. Spread over the top of the cake and top with apple chips and pecans.


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