Parsnip Cake


Chef Caleb France, Cerulean Restaurant
Adapted by Tara Swartzendruber-Landis
Photos by D. Lucas Landis 

Chef France originally served this cake as an accompaniment to fish at his Winona Lake, Indiana, restaurant. We took his recipe and transformed it into a sweet and savory fall dessert. Enjoy with fried apples and a bit of whipped cream.

6 branches thyme

8 sage leaves

½ pound parsnips, peeled and medium diced

½ pound yellow squash, peeled and medium diced

½ cup whole milk

¼ cup heavy cream

1 cinnamon stick

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

2⅔ cups packed brown sugar

1 cup olive oil

1 cup beer (tester used Bell’s Oberon)

4 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Powdered sugar, for dusting the finished cake

 cakeTie the thyme and sage together with kitchen twine.

In a medium-sized saucepan, place the thyme, sage, parsnips, squash, milk, cream, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper over medium heat. Simmer until soft (about 20 minutes), stirring frequently. Remove herbs and cinnamon, purée the mixture in a blender and cool.

Butter and flour 2 round cake pans. Place parchment paper in the bottom of pans and butter again. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400°.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, place the brown sugar and olive oil. Cream together. Add the beer and parsnip mixture and blend again. Finally add the cake flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until just combined. The batter will be very thick and heavy. Divide batter between the 2 cake pans.

Bake at 400° until a toothpick comes out clean, 45–50 minutes. Place on baking rack to cool completely.

Fry the apples and whip the cream (recipe to follow).

Place 1 cake on a platter or plate to serve. Put the fried apples on top of the first cake. Place the other cake on top and dust with powdered sugar. Serve with whipped cream.

For more about Cerulean:

Fried Apples

2 tablespoons butter

5–6 small baking apples

Pinch salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Squeeze lemon juice

Peel and slice apples. Set aside. Place butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the apples, salt and cinnamon and cook for 15–20 minutes, until apples become soft. Add the brown sugar and cook for 5 more minutes. Squeeze lemon over the apples and stir.

Serve over the parsnip cake.

Maple Whipped Cream

1 cup of heavy cream

3 tablespoons of maple syrup

Place chilled cream in a bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Stir in the maple syrup. Serve over parsnip cake with fried apples.




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