Parsnip Cake with Bacon Fat Buttercream & Maple Sugar Pecans

I obviously love parsnips. The thought of making a carrot cake recipe using parsnips seemed to be a good idea. Parsnips can be drier than a carrots, so I was careful to add a touch more butter and vegetable oil, to make up for the difference. It worked out fine. In fact, it was a complete hit. Parsnips take over a hundred days to grow from seed and they are well worth the wait. 

There is something about the fresh parsnips that you buy at a farmers market that are light years away from the ones you buy in the grocery store. The ones I have grown have a very distinctive flavor, like a cross between parsley, carrots and mint. We played off of these flavors in this recipe by adding dried ginger and ground star anise to the cake batter.

The maple sugar pecans were definitely something we wanted to add for texture and flavor. We made some bacon for breakfast that morning and had leftover rendered fat. It just seemed appropriate to carefully add that light, smoky flavor to the buttercream. This is a very simple cake to make! The buttercream has just a good amount of cream cheese in it too because, well, cream cheese rules.  

It's good to make sure that the cake is chilled before frosting the layers. More info in the recipe below!


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Parsnip Cake Recipe

2 1/2 cups all purpose-flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground star anise 

1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

1 stick butter

1 1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

4 large eggs room temp

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

3 cups (packed) grated parsnips 

To Make the Cake

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 f.

Cut the bottoms and sides of a springform cake pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter and line with parchment paper on the bottom. 

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices into a medium bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment ( or in a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer ) beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes

Whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil, and vanilla in a small bowl, pour the mixture into the creamed butter, and beat until smooth, two to three minutes. Scrape the bowl and beat for one minute. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in two batches, mixing for two minutes after each addition. Scrape the bowl. Fold in the parsnips and mix until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, spreading it evenly. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the cake appears firm and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for about 10 to 15 minutes in the pan on cooling racks, then remove and cool completely on the rack. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble. 

 It is best to decorate or frost the cake while the cake is cold. 

For the Bacon Fat Buttercream

12 oz ofcream cheese, softened

3 oz rendered bacon fat (room temperature)

1 stick of butter, softened

2 tsp grated lemon zest, microplane works best

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar 

To Make the Frosting

In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, using a handheld mixer), beat the cream cheese on medium speed for about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides.

Add the butter, juice, zest, vanilla and bacon fat and beat until smooth.

Scrape the bowl and reduce the speed to low, then slowly add the confectioner’s sugar and beat until smooth.

We sliced the cake into thirds lengthwise and frosted between the cake in layers with an offset spatula.