Winter, Sweet, Snacks

Spiced parsnip loaf cake

I first created this satisfying cake in early January, using pantry staples and some leftover parsnips from Christmas.

Like so many of us, I often find myself buying more food than I need over Christmas, especially if I'm entertaining and am never quite sure how many people might be joining us at the dinner table.

My fear of not having enough food translates into buying way too much – so this year, one of my New Year's resolutions is to limit food waste, buying only what I need, and using everything up before buying more.

It's actually turned out to be quite a fun and creative way to cook, resulting in some of my most-loved recipes. It challenges me to create a tasty meal or dish using minimal fresh ingredients.

The secret is to keep a well-stocked store cupboard, which for me always includes tinned foods such as organic chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, beans, and pulses, alongside dried pulses, beans, grains, nuts, seeds, nut butters and pasta.

I grow my own herbs where I can, and it's essential to keep your spice cupboard topped up. I'm also never without garlic, onions and potatoes – I buy ready-chopped frozen onions to save time and tears, and make sure I always have a good supply, because onions form the basis of so many wonderful dishes.

Finally, your fridge should be filled with long-life ingredients such as pickles, fermented foods, miso pastes, mustards, plain yogurts, nut milks, ginger, chillis and plant butters. Give it a go yourself – and let me know how it goes!

So, back to this scrumptious loaf cake. It's gluten-free, refined-sugar free and, of course, vegan. It has a cashew and yogurt frosting, is topped with salted maple-parsnip crisps and a little fresh rosemary, and is moist and hugely satisfying – especially when enjoyed with a cup a tea or coffee.

Something to consider when serving this cake is that the parsnip crisps will quickly go soft on top of the frosting. This isn't much of a problem if you're serving it immediately and planning on scoffing the lot, but if you'll be eating this cake over several days, I recommend keeping the frosting and the parsnip crisps in separate airtight containers – the frosting in the fridge, and the crisps somewhere cool and dry.

That way, you can cut a nice slice of cake, add a dollop of frosting, a sprinkling of parsnip crisps, and a little extra drizzle of maple syrup, and it'll be as fresh as a daisy.

It's worth pointing out, too, that the crisps aren't essential – a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds on top is a lovely alternative.



Dry ingredients

2½ cups ground almonds

2 parsnips, grated to fill 1 cup

¾ cup oat flour, or oats blitzed to a flour

¼ cup roughly chopped walnuts

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

1½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp sea salt

1½ tsp ground ginger

1½ tsp ground cinnamon

1½ tsp mixed spice

A good grating of fresh nutmeg

Wet ingredients

¼ cup oat milk

¼ cup groundnut or melted coconut oil

½ cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1½ tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

For the frosting

1 cup cashew nuts, soaked in boiling water for at least 30 mins

2 tbsp maple syrup

Juice of ½ lemon

Pinch of sea salt

¼ cup oat milk

½ cup plain or coconut vegan yogurt

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

For the parsnip crisps

1 standard or 2 baby parsnips

2 tsp groundnut or melted coconut oil

2 tsp maple syrup

Pinch of sea salt

To serve

Handful pumpkin seeds

Few springs fresh rosemary

Drizzle of maple syrup


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6. Grease and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet in another. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined, being careful not to over-mix.
  3. Pour the batter into the loaf tin, and bake for 35 minutes. Test the cake with a skewer – if it comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, cook for another five mins and try again, repeating until it's cooked through.
  4. Remove the tin from the oven and allow the cake to cool completely before frosting – if you simply can't wait, you can serve it warm, with a dollop of frosting and toppings on the side.
  5. Meanwhile, make your frosting. Drain your soaked cashews and add them to a blender with the maple syrup, lemon juice and salt. Blitz, then add the oat milk bit by bit, until you have a smooth but thick consistency – you might not need to use it all.
  6. Scrape the frosting into a bowl, fold in the yogurt and vanilla bean paste, then cover and place in the fridge until needed.
  7. Next, make your parsnip crisps. Using a mandolin or very sharp knife, slice the parsnips as thinly as possible. Add them to a bowl with the oil, maple and salt, and toss gently to combine, making sure the parsnip is well covered.
  8. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, and lay the slices evenly across it. Bake for about 10 mins, keeping a close eye on them – they can catch easily, and might not need the full 10 mins to crisp up. When they're turning golden brown, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  9. When the cake has cooled and you're ready to serve, place on a serving dish and top with the frosting, followed by the parsnip crisps, a scattering of pumpkin seeds and rosemary sprigs, and a drizzle of maple syrup.

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