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Parsnip Cake

Photo by Katie Olsen

Photo by Katie Olsen

Recipe and photo by Katie Olsen of Katiebird Bakes!

In honor of Week 2 of our #foodwastebingo challenge, we’re sharing a recipe that will help you cook more and embrace vegetables that you might not normally use. This recipe from our friend Katie gives you a fun excuse to bake a cake, shows you a way to use parsnips, and sneaks some extra veggies into your diet while you’re at it.

Similar to a carrot cake, this parsnip cake is sweet, spiced, and filled with festive winter flavors. A brilliant way to make something festive and delicious out of your Imperfect root veggies!



  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour* (measured via spoon and level method)

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 3/4 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp ground ginger

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

  • Pinch of cloves

  • ½ c unsalted butter (1 stick), melted

  • 1 c packed brown sugar

  • 3 large eggs (room temperature preferable)

  • ½ c Greek yogurt or sour cream

  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 c grated parsnips*

  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 oz cream cheese, cold

  • 1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 c powdered sugar

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • Pinch of salt

  • Extra chopped walnuts, for decoration (optional)

  • Sugared cranberries, for decoration (optional)

    *Ingredient available to add to your Imperfect box 



  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round springform cake pan, or a normal 9-inch round cake pan with at least 2-inch high sides.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.

  3. In a large microwave-safe bowl (I use a large glass bowl), or on the stove, melt the butter. Let it sit for a couple minutes to cool, then whisk in the brown sugar, followed by the eggs one at a time, then the Greek yogurt and vanilla, until combined and smooth.

  4. Dump the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and stir together until well-combined and no lumps remain.  

  5. Fold in the grated parsnips and chopped walnuts until evenly distributed.

  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth out the surface, and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until cake springs back when touched and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

  7. Let cake cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the springform pan to release the cake. Let cake cool completely while you prepare the frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. In a large bowl using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter at high speed until pale and very fluffy - this should take 2-3 minutes. You want to incorporate as much air as possible into the mixture to make it light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, and beat at medium to high speed until fully combined and light.

  2. Spread cooled cake with cream cheese frosting. It should make a thick layer, and can be swirled in pretty patterns with an offset spatula.

  3. Decorate the outer edges of cake with sugared cranberries and additional chopped walnuts if desired. Serve!

Recipe Notes and Variations

Cake will keep, well-wrapped in the fridge, for up to 4 days.  I like to microwave leftover pieces of cake on 50% power for 20 seconds to reheat.

I grated the parsnips by hand using a box grater, which sounds like a lot of work but doesn't actually take all that long, since you only need about 2 parsnips to get 2 c worth of grated parsnips. You can also grate them in a food processor with a grating blade. Feel free to substitute carrots if you don’t have parsnips around!