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parsnip-and-lime-marmalade-cake by food to glowI’m a bit of a sneaky so and so. Although I am telling you what is in this cake – I’m a stickler for accurate titles – often when I am feeding my cancer nutrition groups I make them guess what is the ‘special ingredient’. After they have taken a bite.

I suppose I should add “not very nice” to “a bit sneaky.”

But it is with good intentions. Often we have preconceptions about how things are going to taste. I know I do at least. If you tell me something has coconut in it, or baked bananas, I will automatically wrinkle up my already wrinkled nose and decline. Things with coconut in them (unless it is fresh or like this, or this) make me think of tanning creams from the 70s (not sunscreens: there were no such things, hence the wrinkles). And baked bananas, well they are just gross, aren’t they? And don’t even think of giving me something with banana flavouring. Nose wrinkling doesn’t quite cover my reaction.

parsnip-and-lime-marmalade-cake  by food to glowVegetables in cakes are a relatively common thing these days. I have been making chocolate beetroot cake for at least 15 years now. And of course there’s good old carrot cake. That is scoffed by people who might not know a vegetable if it hit them. I think it is probably true that if you add enough sugar and a duvet of buttercream icing most people will eat anything in a cake.

chocolate-beetroot-cake by food to glow

chocolate beetroot cake by food to glow

But a nude parsnip cake? One with wholemeal flour and a scoop of seeds in it? That might be a bit of a hard sell. Parsnips are for roast dinners and perhaps a soup, but a cake?

Hear me out. Once these ghostly and unpromising roots are grated and mixed into the cake they somehow add a certain lightness that isn’t present in many carrot cakes. I’m not sure why. And carrots are naturally sweet when roasted and when juiced, so a cake from these unglamorous winter vegetables doesn’t seem too odd when you think about it. I mean, beetroot is hardly glamorous and now no self-respecting hipster cafe would dare not have chocolate beetroot cake on the menu (and juice, and smoothie, and salad).

No one ever guesses parsnip, by the way. And they always want the recipe.

Why not bake something like this for the wonderful fund-raising event that is Red Nose Day (Friday, March 13) or for Mothering Sunday (Sunday 15 March)? This Parsnip and Lime Marmalade Cake is one of the easiest cakes I make, and for not having much of a sweet tooth I can always find room for at least a wee square with a cup of tea. You can glaze it with warmed lime marmalade, or even slather it in buttercream, but I like it best nude. The cake that is.


Parsnip and Lime Marmalade Cake

  • Servings: 9-12 squares
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This is adapted from my Carrot and Marmalade Cake (2011)

100 ml rapeseed oil OR coconut oil
2 eggs OR vegan egg replacer
75g dark brown/muscovado sugar OR sucanat
4 heaped tbsp best-quality lime marmalade (here’s a lovely one from Karen at Lavender and Lovage)**
100 g self-raising flour
125 g self-raising wholemeal flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
200 g parsnips, grated (fine or coarse – I usually do mine coarse)
2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves – optional (it is really lovely though)
juice of 1/2 lime (zest too if your marmalade is quite sweet)
50 g pumpkin seeds
50g unsulphured raisins
1 tbsp poppy seeds (optional)
1. Grease/oilspray a 18 x 28 cm/7 x 11 inch pan (or equivalent) and line on all sides with non-stick baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F.
2. Vigorously mix together the oil, eggs and sugar until it is thick and leaves a trail when the spoon is lifted. I am a weakling so I defer to the power of my Kitchen-Aid mixer. Sift over the flours and baking powder, then add the remaining ingredients, folding gently. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin; bake for 30- 35 minutes, or a skewer comes out clean when poked in the middle of the cake. Leave to cool in the tin before removing and stripping off the baking paper. This freezes well but will keep for 3-4 days in an airtight tin (keep in a cool place). If you like, heat extra marmalade and pour over the cake for a gorgeous, zingy glaze.
parsnip-and-lime-marmalade-cake by food to glowparsnip-and-lime-marmalade-cake by food to glow
** if you don’t have the lime marmalade, add 50g more sugar of choice and the juice and zest from one lime in total.
These are quite frugal so I am popping these over to Credit Crunch Munch, hosted this month by Jo’s Kitchen {founded by Fuss Free Flavours & Fab Food 4 All}. Credit-Crunch-Munch
Ingredients underwritten by Aldi.
Oh! It’s not too late to get this snazzy Red Nose Day Apron from any HomeSense store or online at TK Maxx.

Dermot O'Leary #raisesomedough @radioleary

BBC Radio 2’s fabulous Dermot O’Leary

60 thoughts on “Parsnip and Lime Marmalade Cake

  1. chefconnie says:

    Cool, love the use of parsnips.

  2. Sounds heavenly! Must try it x

    1. I’m glad you like the look of it. It is a really lovely cake. 🙂

  3. clairetiptop says:

    I do love the sound of this

    1. Aw, thank you Claire. I’m glad you made the jump from Twitter post to the real thing. 🙂

  4. Fabulous recipe!! I often make dips with secret ingredients and get my family and lunch guests to try them and guess what’s in them – they never guess either! 😉

    1. We have to get our kicks some way or other 😉

  5. superfitbabe says:

    Looks delectable, so does your chocolate beet cake!

  6. lizzygoodthings says:

    Wow, parsnips and lime, what an amazing flavour combo! Love it.

    1. It is pretty awesome if I do say so myself. 😉

  7. trucvert says:

    Yes, we’ve been a fan of the parsnip cake for years! Always delicious. If someone’s a fan of carrot cake, odds are they’ll love parsnip cake too (and who isn’t a fan of carrot cake?!)

    1. I totally agree. I does sound odd but it so does work, as you well know. Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂

  8. pinkiebag says:

    I would never of thought of using parsnips in a cake, great idea.

  9. Susan says:

    You are a genius….that’s all.

    1. Aw, shucks ma’am 😉

  10. Sanny says:

    Tasted it last week thank you Kellie. It’s delumptious and will definitely be making it.

    1. Thanks so much Sanny. And cheers for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment. 🙂

  11. Healthy and delicious cake! The chocolate beet cake sounds amazing, too!

    1. Thanks so much. I do try to make cakes healthier without being too ‘worthy’ and both fall into that category – both a bit gooey and tender.

  12. I love lime – must try it paired with parsnips.

    1. It is a surprising success!

  13. Yum! This looks great. I bet the parsnip melts away and provides a tender and sweet cake that’s just about perfect. And that lime marmalade touch? Lush!

    1. The parsnip really does just melt, Katie. I’m not sure why but it certainly leaves the best texture and subtle spiced sweetness (I think baked parsnips taste faintly of nutmeg and other warm spices). Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  14. karen278 says:

    I LOVE parsnips in baking and cakes, I tried a recipe that Veggie Desserts posted a while ago and fell in love with the texture and taste, as you say, it’s very light and not as pudding like as carrot cakes. THANKS so much for mentioning my lemon and lime marmalade recipe, it’s a winner any time of the year. Karen

    1. I will have to go and see Kate’s cake. I must have missed it. I’ve been making this for a very long time and only just now got round to writing it up and blogging it. You must have loads of recipes just waiting to be made public. Thanks for letting me link up to your lovely sounding – and prize-winning! – marmalade.

  15. Looks absolutely gooey, moist and scrumptious. Funnily enough I was munching through a delish veg cake (courgette, walnut and cranberry) with a cup of tea in the lovely Fruitmarket Gallery yesterday – I love veg cakes as they seem to be more moist and your one here looks so good. I’m going to make this for sure. Thank you!

    1. I should really go around Edinburgh cafes and do some cake sampling. You want to join me? Purely research, mind 😉 First stop – Lovecrumbs!

  16. I’v had parsnip cake on my mind since seeing Green Kitchen Stories’ version back in December. But the pairing with lime marmalade here has got my attention!

    1. I have just gone to have a look at it – so, so pretty (as of course you would expect from professional photographers!). The lime marmalade (or lime curd if you prefer) is a really gorgeous match with parsnips. I’m not sure how it goes, but it does! And the optional rosemary is worth a try too. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Katie.

  17. Jess Carey says:

    Oh my God you evil genius!! I LOVE THIS!! Cannot wait to give it a try!!

    1. Mwa-ha-ha! Thank you 🙂

  18. Fuss Free Helen says:

    what a lovely cake Kellie! Parsnips are so sweet and perfect to bake with. This would also be great for using up some of our excessive marmalade stash!

  19. Firstly, this is amazing! Secondly, “nude parsnip cake” is hilarious! I conjured up an image of a parsnip laying out on the beach in the buff. This is a genius recipe and I’m going to try it out on my little ones. 🙂

    1. Now you have planted that funny image in MY mind. Thanks a bunch! LOL 😉

  20. stateeats says:

    Oh Kellie, I am so with you on banana flavored anything (yuck), and everyone thinks I’m odd for it. This cake looks great, I’m all for veg in baked goods! – Kat

    1. I know, right? Bleurgh! Parsnips yes, banana flavouring no!

  21. I feel my mouth puckered, just to see your photos 🙂 I love parsnips, but never in a million years think of this recipe myself; thank goodness I have you. This recipe looks so amazing & delicious. I would really LOVE to try. Thank you, Kellie 🙂

    1. You are so, so kind, Pang. I adore your site so much and chuffed to bits (Scottish for very happy!) that you came over. I wish I could make some of this cake for you. And would LOVE it if you photographed it before you ate it 😉 xx

  22. What a cool combination. I would never have thought that one up. Will book mark it to try. Great post Kellie.

  23. Kavey says:

    Lovely idea… we did have a parsnip glut a few years ago but more recently, the harvest has been meagre. I’m bookmarking this one for next parsnip season!

    1. I’ve never grown them. I stick to the easy ones like kale, chard and salady things. I get my parsnips from either a local farm shop or at Aldi 🙂

  24. fabfood4all says:

    I’m with you with the banana flavouring in things and the worst culprit for me as a child was banana flavoured medicicne bleugh, what were they thinking! I do however love real bananas in any form, coconut I tolerate but not really keen on the dessicated stuff! But back to your cake which looks absolutely scrummy and I’d love to buy a slice at a bake sale or have it made for me on Mother’s Day!. Thank for entering #CreditCrunchMunch:-)

    1. Thanks so much Camilla. Its pretty darn healthy for cake, but truly it doesn’t taste like it because it is so tender and moist, like it has lots of butter in it! PS I’m glad I’m not the only slightly picky food blogger around 😉

  25. I adore parsnips and can quite see how they’d work in a cake, but for some reason haven’t tried using it! I also love marmalade so i’m bookmarking this to bake as soon as I move into my new house.

    1. Good luck with the move! I hope you enjoy your new home 🙂

  26. Parsnip and lime marmalade?! You are a creative one, looks amazing!

  27. I would never have guessed you for a “no baked bananas” “no coconut” kind of gal 🙂 Love your “sneaky cake” and can’t wait to try my hand at a GF version. The Rosemary in it sounds divine!

    1. I am very picky about inclusion of coconut. It’s not a no-go but anything vaguely artificial tasting or too strong and I feel a bit sick :-/ But baked bananas have a weird texture (texture is harder for me than taste sometimes). I meant to try this as gf but never managed it. I don’t like to post something as gf option unless I actually have tried it or know for certain that it will be good. 🙂

  28. Emily Leary says:

    The texture looks divine. My mum is a huge fan of marmalade so I may make this for a Mother’s Day treat.

  29. platedujour says:

    This is one of those things- you know it’s good but you are resistant to it. I have this recipe for a chocolate cake with zucchini and still have not done it, but I will try for sure now. I’m sure this cake is delicious! I also have the texture issue yay!

  30. susamaimily says:

    Reblogged this on susamaimily.

  31. I quite fancy trying these. Strange question though- where do you buy your wholemeal self raising flour from- I’ve looked for it a few times I. Tesco and asda and not seen it? Lovely pictures too, I must work on mine.

    1. Until recently it was hard to find – I get mine at Earthy Foods in Edinburgh, but any health food shop will have a selection – but I see that Waitrose are stocking Duchy brand now. Hope this helps. I used to be able to get wholemeal sr at Sainsburys, but haven’t sent it in years there.

      1. Thanks- I live in edinburgh so that’s easy for me 🙂

  32. This looks amazing! I love your blog – you have so many interesting recipes that I am dying to try!

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