Parsnip and Pear Cake

As we’re heading in to autumn I wanted to make something comforting but unusual. When I thought of parsnip and pear cake I did a quick Google to see if anyone else had attempted it and low and behold the recipe was already sitting on my window sill in Lily Vanilli’s ‘Sweet Tooth’ book.


Lily Vanilli’s version is a parsnip, pear and ginger cake. But I didn’t have any ginger… or lemon as the recipe requires. So I adapted it with mixed spice and an orange and it came out pretty good!

Parsnip Nutritional Information

Parsnips contain a good source of potassium, dietary fibre and folate therefore reducing blood pressure, the risk of diabetes and optimising metabolic process (see more benefits on the Vegetables page).

The Recipe



The cake:

250 g pears (peeled and grated)

250 g parsnips (peeled and grated)

100 g raisins

Juice and zest of half an orange

150 g white rice flour

3/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp baking powder

150 g ground almonds

3 eggs

150 g light brown sugar

125 ml olive oil

Pear crisps:

1 pear

120 ml water

1 tbsp caster sugar

Squeeze of orange juice

50 g hazelnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting (I followed Lily Vanilli’s recipe for this which makes 650 g and froze what was leftover to use on another cake!):

125 g unsalted butter

200 g full-fat cream cheese

250 g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract


Turn the oven on to 180°C and line a 23 cm round tin.

Grate the parsnip and pear (remember to re-weigh when grated to make sure you still got the right amount) and put in a large bowl with the raisins, mixed spice, orange juice and zest and mix together.






In a separate bowl measure out the flour, nutmeg, baking powder and ground almonds and stir together well.


Now beat together the eggs and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes should do it. Then add the oil and continue beating to incorporate.


Fold in the flour mixture to the wet mixture, then incorporate the grated parsnip and pear mixture.




Transfer the mixture into the prepared tin and bake. Check after 30 minutes to see if it needs a little longer or not.


While the cake is baking, I made the cream cheese icing  – very simple – just beat the butter for a few minutes then add the cream cheese and beat for a couple more minutes. Add the vanilla extract and the icing sugar gradually, continue to beat until fully incorporated.


Cover and leave in the fridge until needed.

You can also roast the hazelnuts for decoration while the cake is in the oven. Roughly chop the hazelnuts and roast for 6-7 minutes.


When the cake has nearly finished baking you can star to prepare the pear crisps for decoration.

Bring the water to the boil with the sugar and orange juice. Then turn off the heat and stir until all the sugar has dissolved.

Dip the pear slices in to the water and transfer on to a a lined baking tray, leave to the side until the oven has cooled to 110°C when you have taken the cake out. Bake for 30 mins – 1 hr (basically until they are dried out).

When the cake has completely cooled, it’s time to decorate! Spread the cream cheese frosting over the top and sprinkle with the roasted hazelnuts. When the pear crisps are baked arrange them on top of the cake.





Happy Baking! x


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