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Parsnip and Pecan cake with Aniseed and Orange

I have eaten many a cake in my lifetime, but I have to say that carrot cake has firmly kept its place as my favourite… until now!

My lovely partner bought me the ‘Sweet’ recipe book for Christmas and it’s such a wonderful book. The recipes are inspiring and refreshing and have really motivated me to start planning the flavours for the upcoming markets in February.

I’ve always been curious to try another vegetable cake seen as I’m so fond of carrot cake, so when I came across this recipe for a ‘Parsnip and Pecan cake with Aniseed and Orange’ I knew I had to try it!

As Helen explains in the book, carrots and parsnips derive from the same family (the umbelliferae) which is why parsnips are so delicious when grated into a cake. This cake is beautifully moist, jewelled with roasted pecans and flavoured with fresh orange zest and warming spices, including a gorgeous addition of ground fennel for extra depth. If you’re a fan of carrot cake, this Parsnip and Pecan cake will be your new cake obsession!

I adapted the recipe slightly as I wanted to add some sultanas in place of half the currants. I also like to soak my dried fruit for a little while just to plump them up. I used hot water for this but you could also use orange juice if you wish! I’ve specified in my recipe to use golden caster sugar as I prefer the more natural, buttery flavour, especially in a spiced cake. I also cooked my cake in an 8 inch tin rather than a 9 inch as I wanted a taller cake.


  • 150g pecan halves
  • 3 large parsnips, peeled and coarsely grated, weighing approx. 450g
  • 50g sultanas
  • 50g currants
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 3 large eggs
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 280ml good quality sunflower oil
  • 190g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground fennel seeds


  • 300g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • 125ml double cream
  • 1 ½ tsp ground fennel seeds
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange



– Preheat the oven to 170°c/150°c Fan and line an 8 inch round cake tin with baking parchment.

– Spread the pecans out on a baking tray and roast for 10 mins. Remove from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, roughly chop and place in a large bowl. Set aside until completely cool. Roasting the pecans gives them a lovely rich caramel flavour and makes such a difference to the flavour of the cake.

– Increase the oven temperature to 210°c/190°c Fan.

– Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on a high speed for 2 mins , until thick and creamy.

– With the machine still running, slowly and steadily pour in the oil until its all combined. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, nutmeg, ground fennel seeds and salt together in a bowl and stir until all the dry ingredients are combined.

– Pour into the egg mixture and mix to combine, then turn off the machine before folding in the nuts, parsnips, currants and zest.

– Pour into the tin and bake for about 50-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Keep an eye on the cake at around 45-50 minutes as it may be done a little earlier depending on your oven! If you notice your cake is getting too dark on the top, you can cover the cake tin in foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.

– Remove from the oven and set aside until cool before removing from the tin.

– To make the icing, place the cream cheese in a bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Mix on a high speed for 1 minute until smooth, then add the icing sugar. Mix for another 1-2 minutes until thick, before adding the ground fennel seeds and orange zest. Mix until combined.

– If you’re planning on making the cake in advance, store the cake in a airtight container and keep the icing stored in the fridge. Add the icing before serving by spreading with a palette knife. I cut my cake in half and added cream cheese in the middle as well as around the sides, but this is optional.

I hope you love this cake as much as I do! The parsnip and pecan cake will be appearing at my February markets so come and visit our stall to try a piece for yourself.

Founder of Copper Spoon Cakery, specialising in bundt cakes for market stalls and custom occasion cakes.


  • January 19, 2018

    Alison Davey

    Hi Alice. I hope you are well. I cannot see what the recipe says about the parsnips I am guessing you grate them. Alison Davey xx

    • January 19, 2018

      Hi Alison! I’m really good thanks, I hope you’re well. Woops! Yes you peel and then grate them, i’ll change this on the blog now 🙂 I know you loved the carrot cake recipe so you should definitely try this one, its my new favourite xx

  • January 19, 2018

    Great looking cake. I love using vegetables in cakes, but so far haven’t tried parsnip. Sounds very interesting. Will keep this in mind! 🙂

  • January 19, 2018

    Great work Alice! An awesome way to use parsnips (:

  • January 28, 2018

    Never used parsnip in a cake, that’s an interesting addition.. the cake looks really yummy!

      • February 7, 2018

        I can see, once again looks awesome!

  • February 15, 2018

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