The poor parsnip is often lost as part of a mixed-veggie roast, but its flavours are far more complex than you’d think. Bite into it raw and you can taste hints of anise and fresh, spicy herbs.

This heady, moist cake celebrates these forgotten flavours by bringing out the best of the parsnip. I’ve paired this with the subtle, floral tones found in blossom water. I like using wild-willow water – which is a deeper, Persian alternative to rose water. You could also use popular orange-blossom water. Both will add a fresh, sweet kick.

This is a delicious, surprising example of how root vegetables and flowers can be used in sweet baking.

Spiced Parsnip and Willow Blossom Cake

What you’ll need:

200g brown sugar
100g raw sugar
300ml grapeseed oil
3 eggs
1tbs willow-blossom water*
330g grated parsnips
½tbs fresh grated ginger
300g flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
½tsp salt
½tsp freshly ground coriander seed
½tsp freshly ground star anise
1tbs finely chopped coriander stalk

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*substitute with ½tbs orange blossom water if needed


Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Combine sugars, blossom water, oil and eggs and beat until frothy and well combined. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to wet mixture in two batches. Stir in grated parsnips and ginger. Mix by hand to combine. Grease and line two 8-inch cake tins or a single, tall 9-inch cake tin. Bake for 30–40 mins or until golden brown.

Serving suggestions:

Eat warm from the oven with a serving of fresh whipped cream whisked with a few generous drops of blossom water. Or ice generously, as shown here, with a blossom cream-cheese frosting.