Maple walnut cake with parsnip

I really struggled to know what to call this cake….. maple syrup and date cake, date and walnut cake, parsnip and maple cake..

….or maple syrup, date, walnut and parsnip cake. Sounds like a ridiculous mouthful! But really that is what it should be called as each if of those ingredients really make this cake what it is!

In the end I decided not to focus on the parsnip so much as I worried people might find it odd, but believe me it works so well in this cake, a subtle taste but it’s definitely there with its earthy sweetness shining through.

This is the second time I’ve made this cake, but the first time I’ve added the walnuts as a crunchy layer on the top instead of mixed through.  It works superbly and I much prefer it this way. With a little more maple syrup drizzled over the topping takes on a chewy crispness once baked.

I also made this cake in a shallow square tin, as opposed to a loaf tin. I find that this cake is very moist which is lovely, but in a deeper loaf tin the centre does have the tendency to be a little too gummy. I would advise a shallow round or square tin to achieve a more consistent but dense crumb.

The snow is still on the ground here in the UK and this makes the perfect comforting cake for a wintry morning. Oh how I wish I could settle down with a nice steaming mug of camomile tea and a nice wedge of cake.....

Mmmmm....crunchy maple walnut topping!

Recipe: maple walnut cake with parsnip


  • 1/3 cup apple puree
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup maple syrup and a pinch stevia
  • 1/3  cup soy milk
  • 1/3 cup orange juice (plus zest- optional)
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 1 ¾ cups spelt flour (approx. 200g)
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated parsnip (approx. 150g)
  • ½ cup finely grated apple
  • ½ cup finely chopped dates
  • ½-1 cup chopped walnuts (for topping)
  • Extra maple syrup as desired (for drizzling over)


Preheat oven to 180C. Blend together wet ingredients in food processor then mix in melted coconut oil. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl (except dates/parsnip/apple) then add wet mixture and stir until thick. Fold in the remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into  an 8’ round of square cake tin. Bake for approx. 30 minutes until lightly toasted and a skewer comes away clean. You may need to keep a close eye on the nuts during the final few minutes to watch they don’t burn (use foil over the top if this looks like it could be a problem and the centre is not cooked).