Back in 2010, local radio station, WJFF, was hosting Foodstock – a fine wine and local food festival. Being super curious about this idea of “local food,” we attended looking to sample new and exciting eats and treats. From garlic infused vinegar to ramps, there was plenty to sample and lots to learn. Little did we know, we’d be introduced to our now good friend and farmer, Greg Swartz of Willow Wisp Organic Farm in Damascus, PA.
As we made our way around the packed room, we stumbled upon Willow Wisp, all set- up with farm crates and pre-packaged veggie soup kits. Tannis, Greg’s wife, was luring passerby’s with a taste of parsnip-leek soup. Prior to that moment, we’d never even heard of a parsnip. Feeling adventurous, we sipped it down and were pleasantly surprised – it was so good. We chatted all things soup and parsnips, leaving of course with parsnips and leeks in-tow to recreate this farm fresh favorite. Amazed by how much parsnips tasted like carrots and being a sucker for sweet treats, I thought, why not toss them in a cake and see how it goes – clearly, it worked deliciously.
Of note…this recipe was originally slated to be in the cookbook. After bundt cake failure and a looming deadline, the recipe was pulled. It saddened me that it didn’t make the cut but I’m happy to share it with you now. Enjoy.
Parsnip Spice Cake with Maple Pecan Buttercream
gluten, grain & soy free, paleo friendly
-dairy free when made with palm shortening-
Use This - Cake
9 large (18oz) eggs, room temp
1½ cups (16.7oz) maple syrup
1½ cups (11.4oz) coconut oil, melted (plus 1 tablespoon for greasing pans)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1½ cups (6.3oz) sifted coconut flour (plus 2-4 tablespoons for dusting pans)
3 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups (6.6oz) shredded parsnips (from 3 medium (¾lb) parsnips, washed, ends trimmed, shredded fine using a food processor or box grater)
½ cup (2oz) chopped raw pecans or walnuts, optional
Use This - Buttercream
2 cups (1lb) butter, softened
1 cup (5.7oz) maple syrup
¼ cup coconut cream (from chilled canned coconut mylk)
3 tablespoons coconut flour
½ cup (5.2oz) pecans, chopped (toasted)
- Make cake. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease two 9-inch cake pans with oil or butter and dust with coconut flour – tapping excess flour off and out.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, maple, oil, vanilla, coconut flour, cinnamon, pie spice, ginger, sea salt and baking powder. Using a hand mixer (or stand mixer), mix well to incorporate all ingredients. Scrape down sides and mix again – be sure to remove any lumps. Add parsnips and nuts, if using. Mix to incorporate. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 37-40 minutes or toothpick clean. Allow to fully cool before removing from pans and frosting.
- Make buttercream. In a medium bowl, combine butter, maple, coconut cream and coconut flour; use a hand mixer (or stand mixer) to whip. Once ingredients are fully mixed, use a rubber spatula and fold in toasted pecans. Alternatively, you can use the pecans to coat the sides of the cake (as pictured). If you’re not frosting the cake right away, keep buttercream in fridge. When ready, just whip once more and frost. Should your buttercream be too stiff (from being too cold), just leave it on the counter for 20-30 minutes before whipping again.
Quick Tips: Switch the parsnips out for carrots, turn the cake into cupcakes or enjoy as a sweet muffin without the buttercream. Switch the maple out for honey, omit all the nuts if need be. Make it your own – and have fun baking and eating.