Last winter I visited Stone Barns Farm outside of NYC, where sustainable farming meets world-class cooking. Chefs and farmers work hand-in-hand to grow and to prepare the most delectable food, with a menu dictated by what’s in season.
It was February, and they had just harvested their parsnips. On the menu were several soups and dishes using this nutty-flavored root vegetable. But the item that caught my attention was Parsnip Cake. I had to have it, and I was not disappointed.
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Since then I have been obsessed with re-creating this masterpiece. This has taken the better part of a year because store bought parsnips would not do. No, this cake was to be made with homegrown parsnips.
My seeds were direct sown 1/2” deep and 1” apart in the early spring into my lasagna garden. They were slow in germinating, and I kept the soil moist as I waited. When they emerged, I thinned them to about 3” apart and kept them weed free.
The parsnips received little of my attention throughout the summer, except checking the moisture of the soil and admiring the large parsley-like leaves.
As the fall approached and the weather cooled, my anticipation mounted. I wanted frost-free weather so that my tomatoes could continue to ripen, and I wanted frost so that my parsnips would begin to sweeten. I knew the flavor would not be fully developed until we had several weeks of at least occasional freezing weather.
And finally, time for harvest had arrived and time to experiment with recipes. This cake had to be as good as the one at Stone Barn Farms. I am more than pleased with the result, and my family concurs. (And my frosting is even better, if I do say so myself). It has been worth the wait! I hope you enjoy it as well.
Let me know what you think.
Parsnip Cake with Orange Whipped Cream
- 5 eggs
- ¾ c softened butter
- ¾ c pure maple syrup
- 2 ½ c sprouted spelt flour
- ½ t sea salt
- 1 T baking soda
- 1 t nutmeg
- 2 t cinnamon
Cream the liquid ingredients. Mix together the liquid and dry ingredients. Add:
- ¾ c raisins
- ¾ c chopped walnuts*
- 2 ½ c freshly grated parsnips (these oxidize quickly so do not grate them until ready to use)
Bake in a greased 9” x 13” pan for 30 – 35 min at 325°. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Add 2 – 3 drops of orange essential oil (use a pure essential oil that is labeled for food use) to 1 cup of heavy whipping cream. Refrigerate for at least ½ hour. While the cream and orange oil is infusing, place your mixing beaters and the bowl you will use to whip the cream in the freezer. The key to perfect whipped cream is to have all ingredients very cold.
Add 1 T cold, pure maple syrup to the cream and whip until the cream forms peaks. If you are serving the cake immediately, frost the entire cake. Otherwise, frost each piece as it is served, keeping both the cake and the whipped cream refrigerated.
*For easier digestion and fantastic flavor, soak and dry the nuts ahead of time. Place 2 cups of nuts in a bowl. Add 1 t of sea salt and cover the nuts with water. Stir to dissolve the salt. Allow to sit for 6 – 8 hours. Drain and dry in a dehydrator or in your oven at just under 150 degrees for 8 – 12 hours, or until completely dry and crisp.
Recommended Reading: Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza