Layered Parsnip Cake with Candied Kumquats

It turns out that parsnips, the carrot's blonde cousins, work just as well for making a perfectly moist cake. This one is both vegan and gluten-free, made with nutrient-rich buckwheat and millet flours, and topped with candied kumquats. 

Layered Parsnip Cake with Candied Kumquats
Photo: Photo © Anya Kassoff
Total Time:
1 hrs
1 6-inch cake


Candied Kumquats

  • 3/4 cup honey

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

  • 2 pints (about 4 cups) kumquats, sliced

  • Fat from 1 can full-fat Thai coconut milk

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 packages of plain vegan cream cheese

  • 3 tablespoons honey

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Generous squeeze of lemon juice

Parsnip Cake

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

  • 1/4 cup ground chia seeds or flax seeds

  • 3/4 cup buckwheat flour

  • 3/4 cup millet flour

  • 3/4 cup tapioca flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar

  • 1 cup olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Zest of 1 orange

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

  • About 3 cups grated parsnips

  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts or pecans, chopped


Make the Candied Kumquat

  1. In a small to medium saucepan, combine honey with water, vanilla seeds and pod and bring to a gentle boil. Add kumquats, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool and keep the kumquats in the syrup. Refrigerate if not using the same day.

Make the Frosting

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

Make the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bring almond milk to a boil and mix it with ground chia in a large mixing bowl. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes. Combine all the flours, baking powder and soda, salt and spices in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

  2. Add sugar to the milk-chia mixture and mix using a hand mixer. Add olive oil and vanilla extract, then orange zest and juice. Combine thoroughly with the hand mixer.

  3. Add dry ingredients, mixing them in with the mixer. Fold in the parsnips and walnuts.

  4. Prepare a 6-inch cake pan or a spring form. If using a cake pan, cover with parchment paper. If using a spring form, generously grease with olive or coconut oil.

  5. Spoon 1/3 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 remaining batter. 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.

  6. Garnish with candied kumquats on top and let the cake rest in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. Slice and serve with more candied kumquats.

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