Three Layer Parsnip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Three Layer Parsnip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

We are celebrating our one year blog anniversary with cake. We wanted an extraordinary cake for the occasion, one with a funky twist, moist flavor and sumptuous icing. Three Layer Parsnip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is our adaptation of the wonderful Diane Morgan's recipe. This fantastic, vegetable loaded cake mimics the spice and texture of a carrot cake, adding a mysterious subtle sweetness with the nutty flavor of grated parsnips. Since we discovered this parsnip cake a year ago, carrot cake just doesn't do it for us anymore.


Yield: Serves 12



  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 4 cups grated parsnips, washed, ends trimmed, unpeeled  
  • 1 cup dried coconut (preferably unsweetened)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (preferably toasted)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

   Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 


  1. Heat the oven to 350.  Butter and flour 3 cake pans (we used 9" standard cake pans).
  2. For the cake: In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, powder, soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cloves). Mix in the parsnip, coconut and walnuts. Set aside.
  3. With a stand (or hand) mixer on medium speed, whisk together the sugar and oil for 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well between each addition. Add the flour and parsnip mixture slowly and mix briefly until just incorporated. With a spatula, mix the cake dough to ensure the mixture is evenly combined. Do not over mix.
  4. Distribute the cake batter evenly between the three cake pans, about 2 heaping cups per pan.
  5. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the edges are starting to pull away from the sides.
  6. Remove the cakes from the cake pans after 15 minutes of cooling. Let cool completely before frosting.
  7. For the cream cheese frosting: Whisk together the cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) at medium speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners sugar and vanilla. Mix at medium speed for an additional two minutes.
  8. To assemble the cake: Place one cake, top side down on a cake holder or plate. Evenly spread 1/3 of the frosting over the first cake.  Place the second cake on the frosting, top side down. Again, evenly spread 1/3 of the frosting over the top of the second cake. Set the third cake, top side down, on the frosting. Spread the remaining frosting over the top of the final cake.  Decorate with walnuts, or coconut to your preference.  


  • Parsnips, while related to carrots, have a much longer cultivation process, and thus a more expensive price. They are planted in the spring and often spend 6-9 months in the ground before being harvested after a hard frost.
  • If you bought more parsnips then the recipe calls for, they are wonderful in our french cabbage stew.