PARSNIP & CARROT CAKE with Walnuts & Ginger

July 21, 2020


Although most tree nuts are gathered in autumn, they need time to dry and cure. So mid-winter is a good time to get cracking. We have a walnut, almond and two hazelnut trees on the western border of our suburban property. The trees are now six years old and each year the nut harvest doubles.

This year we gathered a small box full, but, if that continues on the same trajectory, in a few years we are going to have quite a lot of nuts. Which was the plan, after all, to grow some energy-dense food-producing trees on our quarter acre. Nut trees (and three avocados we have also squeezed in) will grow quite big so they are positioned along the bank of the brook that borders our property. This way we can utilise the extra headspace reaching over council land rather than a neighbours fence.

The almonds, in particular, are a true labour of love as they need a strong cracker to open the shells and the resulting nut quantity is always a little disheartening after the effort. We use this cracker, although not cheap. it is built to last and when you have a large number of shell to crack it is very efficient – here is a video of walnuts. After a walnut cracking session with the kids recently we decided they had to be used in cake – not just any cake but a ‘carrot and parsnip cake’ cake…

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Parsnip & Carrot Cake with Walnut & Ginger

Carrot is a well-known addition to a cake but parsnip also works well due to its mellow sweetness. In this recipe, I combine parsnip and carrot with crunchy walnuts and a good kick of warming ginger.
Servings 12
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes


  • ¾ cup (185ml) olive oil
  • cup (65g) brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup or honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup grated parsnip (120g), packed
  • 1 cup grated carrot (about 120g), packed
  • 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 cup (150g) standard white flour
  • cup (50g) wholemeal flour or more white flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ cup (50g) chopped walnuts

Spiced cream cheese icing

  • 250 g cream cheese (or use the thick creamed part of a can of coconut cream to make it dairy-free)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • Chopped walnuts, to decorate


  • Preheat oven to 170°C. Line and grease a 20cm round cake tin.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the oil, sugar, syrup and eggs and whisk until smooth. Mix in the grated parsnip, carrot and fresh ginger.
  • In a separate bowl combine the flours, baking powder, spices and walnuts. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix and fold together until just combined.
  • Scoop into the tin and bake for about 35 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out cake to a cooling rack.
  • Make the icing: use a spoon to beat together the cream cheese, maple syrup and ground ginger until smooth. Use a butter knife to spread onto the cooled cake. Decorate with walnuts and serve. Store in a cake tin and consume within 3 days.

Join the Conversation

  1. What GF flour replacement would you recommend for the carrot and parsnip cake?

    1. Hi Trina, I would recommend a combo of rice flour, buckwheat and tapioca flour. I make a mix of 3 parts rice flour, 2 parts buckwheat and 1 part tapioca. Or use a gluten-free flour mix.

  2. Karina S. says:

    Hi, Nicola,
    Thank you for your beautiful recipes! For this cake, do you think it is possible to replace the wheat flour with almond meal? Am looking to reduce the carbs.
    Karina S.

    1. Hi Karina
      I haven’t tried this substitution so I can’t be sure. I have made similar style cakes with half almond meal and half flour (can be gluten-free) successfully but not with all almond meal.
      All the best

  3. Hi Nicola,
    I am looking forward to trying this recipe. I was wondering if you think the olive oil could be replaced with melted butter instead and the brown sugar with coconut sugar?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Absolutely, both of these substitutions would be just fine.
      Enjoy, Nicola

      1. Wonderful, thanks Nicola! Just wondering also if this recipe needs some baking soda? Your other spiced carrot & orange cake has both baking powder + soda and it seems like both cakes are fairly similar..
        thanks so much for clarifying 🙂

        1. Hi Julia, thanks for checking about this recipe. The cakes are actually quite different with the spiced carrot cake using dates to partially sweeten and raisins. The baking soda is used in that cake as it is a heavier dough and it also helps to soften the dates. This cake is lighter without the dates and raisins. Hope that helps 🙂

          1. Sounds great! Thanks so much for that helpful information! I can’t wait to make it for my mother’s bday next weekend 🙂

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