Parsnip Cake with Candied Kumquats

January 31st, 2014


I must admit that I’m not very skilled when it comes to proper cake making. I could tell you about several disasters, like that time when my cake unexplainably exploded all over the refrigerator, or that other time when the cake fell on the floor right as I opened the refrigerator door, or I could mention many of my multilayered cake creations that sadly leaned to one side like the Tower of Pisa, or about the beautiful pink icing (Paloma’s birthday request) that discolored and became brown right before serving. Each time these kinds of things happen, I swear to never make cake again but never stick to my resolutions. And every time a cake I make actually comes out well, I find it to be enough reason to celebrate and dig right in.


Carrot cake is the darling of the cake world, what’s not to love? It’s classic and simple. But how about parsnips, the carrot’s albino cousins that show up among other hearty winter root veggies this time of year? I grew up snacking on raw parsnips right from the garden, and they were a mandatory ingredient in my mom’s famous borsch. I also love a good parsnip mash as a side dish to anything. This time the parsnips went into a dessert – a fairly simple cake topped with home candied kumquats.

parsnip cake

I find the candied kumquats essential to experience the full flavor of this cake. If you can’t find kumquats, substitute with Meyer lemons, sour oranges or any other candied citrus. This was my very first time working with kumquats, and I can attest to their perfect balance of sweet, sour and orangey notes that make for a beautiful cake topping or marmalade. And take a look at more kumquat recipes over at my latest food blog crush, Princess Tofu, herehere and here.


Many thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments on the Wholistic Chakra system giveaway. It has now been closed and the winner (The Rose Journals) has been emailed. Elena of Wholistic drew the winner herself!


Candied Kumquats

¾ cup honey
½ cup water
1 vanilla bean – seeds scraped out
2 pints (about 4 cups) of kumquats – sliced

In a small to medium saucepan, combine honey with water, vanilla seeds and bean, bring to a gentle boil. Add in the kumquats and bring back to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool down and keep the kumquats in the syrup, refrigerated.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

2 packages of plain Tofutti cream cheese
fat from 1 can full-fat unsweetened Thai coconut milk
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
generous squeeze of lemon juice

Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. The fat and water should separate and fat should accumulate on top. Carefully scoop it out and combine with the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Beat it with a hand mixer until well combined and fluffy. Keep refrigerated while baking the cake.

Gluten Free and Vegan Parsnip Cake

¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
¼ cup ground chia seeds or flax seeds
¾ cup (105 g) buckwheat flour
¾ cup (90 g) millet flour
¾ cup (90 g) tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup coconut sugar
1 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
about 3 cups grated parsnips
1 ½ cups walnuts or pecans – chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Bring almond milk to a boil, mix with ground chia in a large mixing bowl. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes.
2. Combine all the flours, baking powder and soda, salt and spices in a mixing bowl, set aside.
3. Add sugar to the milk-chia mixture and mix using a hand-mixer. Continue by adding in olive oil and vanilla extract, then orange zest and juice. Mix to combine thoroughly with a hand mixer.
4. Add dry ingredients into the wet, mixing them in with the mixer.
5. Fold in the parsnips and walnuts.
6. Prepare a 6-inch cake pan or a spring form. If using a cake pan, cover it with parchment paper. I using a spring form, generously grease it with olive or coconut oil.
7. Spoon ⅓ of the batter at a time into the pan/form and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Repeat with the other two thirds. You can also bake two 8-inch cakes if you don’t have a 6-inch pan, or even bake all the batter at once like a thick cake (you may need to increase the baking time in this case) and then cut the cake into layers horizontally. Make sure that the cakes are completely cool before cutting or frosting them.
8. Place one layer of the cake onto a cake stand or plate. Generously cover with a layer of cream cheese frosting and a thin layer of candied kumquats. Carefully place a second layer of the cake on top following by another frosting and kumquat layers. Finish with the third cake layer and frost the entire cake.
9. Garnish with candied kumquats and let the cake rest in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. Slice and serve with more candied kumquats.

Note: Candied citrus is essential to the flavour of this cake. If you can’t get kumquats, candy Meyer lemons, sour oranges or other citrus.

Tags: cake, citrus, dessert, gluten free, parsnip, recipe, vegan

  • Holy cow! This is amazing! I love the idea of rethinking carrot cake with parsnips. And candied kumquat!! This is gorgeous and the flavors sound amazing. Can’t wait to think up an excuse to make this!

  • I don’t think i can ever make something like this. Looks amazing and unbelievable.
    Просто потрясяюще!!!

  • Medha says:

    Oh my my – what a gorgeous cake! Love the parsnip as a star – candid kumquats are cherry on top:) I am absolutely in love with this cake! Great recipe!

  • I absolutely love the idea of a parsnip cake – it’s too perfect. Plus the topping on this is killer :)

  • cheri says:

    Wow! This is beautiful, very interesting.

  • Rebecca says:

    This looks beautiful! And parsnips in a cake are almost my favorite :)

  • Linda says:

    Pretty pretty!! Give me an imperfect cake any day, Leaning Tower of Pisa tilt and all. I’m actually kind of terrified of those boutique-y Martha-Stewart-like cakes, which are far too prim, proper, and flawless for my taste.

    And parsnip cake! Genius! I love carrot cake and totally should’ve made that connection. The candied kumquats are gorgeous by the way.

  • phi says:

    You stole the cake right out of my dreams! How do I get a slice of your gorgeous beauty?

  • Lane says:

    This is absolutely gorgeous! I’m definitely going to have to try parsnips in cake sometime soon!

  • Laura says:

    Anya, I am definitely making this for my birthday at the end of the month. It’s perfect! Might do mine up half carrots and half parsnips since I’m a sucker for a bit of tradition. I can only imagine how much sweetness the parsnips add. And I love your comments about cake trials and errors. They can be so fussy! xo

    • Anya says:

      Thank you Laura! The cake is gone and everyone here is asking for more. I’m sure it’ll be delicious with carrots as well.

  • Medeja says:

    Parsnip cake? That sounds so out of this world! Looks really amazing! :)

  • I absolutely love this recipe! How didn’t I think of a parsnip cake before? And the candied cumquats are like the crown of this cake.

  • Anya, I love this recipe! And your website!
    Congratulations on your upcoming book!

  • […] Parsnip cake with candied kumquats. Could anything be more perfectly seasonal? […]

  • Wow, Anya, what an absolute beauty! I just had my first taste of parsnip cake the other day, with apples. I love the sweet, rustic flavor. Your cake is beautiful, and the kumquats just bring it all together!

  • Parsnip cake with candied kumquats?! I’m loving it! Pinned!

  • I don’t know what you’re talking about when you say you aren’t good at cake making cus this looks amazing. My frosting work is never as good as this!

  • Lina Liwag says:

    Hi Anya,

    This is beautiful! You’re such a food artist!

    I’ve added parsnips on my salads and soups but never thought of them in a dessert!

  • […] Gluten Free and Vegan Parsnip Cake¾ cup unsweetened almond milk¼ cup ground chia seeds or flax seeds¾ cup (105 g) buckwheat flour¾ cup (90 g) millet flour¾ cup (90 g) tapioca flour1 teaspoon baking powder1 teaspoon baking soda½ teaspoon salt2 teaspoons ground cinnamon½ teaspoon nutmeg¾ cup coconut sugar1 cup olive oil2 teaspoons vanilla extractzest of 1 orange¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juiceabout 3 cups grated parsnips1 ½ cups walnuts or pecans – chopped  […]

  • Ksenia says:

    Hello! I am delighted I discovered your blog through Finding Vegan, for I feel like I found a kindred spirit. I am also Russian, and I mostly prefer to eat gluten-free and vegan. I look forward to following your blog in future recipes.

  • Yoanna says:

    Your blog and pictures are so lovely! This cake looks amazing.

  • […] Winner for most interesting: Parsnip Cake with Candied Kumquats by Golubka Kitchen […]

  • celia says:

    This recipe is stunning, and so are the pictures of course as always. I definitely going to introduce this to my mother she has a new found love for Parsnips. Thank you :)

  • […] Parsnip cake with candied kumquats. Could anything be more perfectly seasonal? […]

  • Ileana says:

    So creative! And beautiful, too. Perhaps my carrot cake-loving boyfriend will love this cake, too. :)

  • Wow, just wow. This is absolutely stunning! Luckily I just got some parsnips in my farm box this week…x

  • […] For these muffins, I made a turnip mash to include in the batter and the technique did not disappoint – I got a nice, light batter. Blueberry season is here, and we’ve been celebrating with these gluten free treats. I will also be making them with other berries and chocolate. And if you enjoy this type of baking, you will like our Parsnip Cake with Candied Kumquats. […]

  • […] cake with candied kumquat by Golubka Kitchen; Raw carrot cake with cashew cream by The […]

  • Grace says:

    I just made this recipe, but it came out very dry (the batter and the baked cake). I’m curious if I did something wrong or if the batter was supposed to be very dry and lacking in liquid? Or was the batter supposed to run smoothly? I would love to try the recipe again, such a lovely idea! Thanks!

    • Anya says:

      Grace, so sorry to hear about your experience. I wish I could know exactly what happened, but it’s hard to point out what went wrong without witnessing the whole process. The batter shouldn’t be dry at all-it shouldn’t be exactly runny, but moist, especially before adding parsnips. Make sure that all of the liquid ingredients are added: almond milk, olive oil, orange juice, and your dry ingredients are measured correctly. A friend of mine is addicted to this cake and makes it regularly, she hasn’t had a problem with dryness. Hope this helps, good luck!


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