Spiced parsnip and blossom

Spiced parsnip and blossom

Sticky Fingers Green Thumb
Tara Pearce, Tim Hillier

The poor parsnip often gets lost in a tray of mixed roasted vegetables, but it’s far more interesting than you might think. This moist cake celebrates its overlooked flavours and pairs them with the floral tones of blossom water. I like using wild-willow water, which is a lighter Persian alternative to rosewater, but you could also use orange-blossom water – either will add a fresh, sweet hum. If it’s a special occasion, top your blossom icing with flowers (I like to use stock) and sprinkle with ground ginger.


Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon star anise
200g soft brown sugar
100g raw (demerara) sugar
4 teaspoons blossom water, (such as wild-willow or orange-blossom)
300ml grapeseed oil
3 eggs
300g plain (all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
330g parsnips, grated
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
4 teaspoons coriander stalks, finely chopped

Blossom icing

Quantity Ingredient
600g icing (confectioners’) sugar
2-3 drops blossom water
100g unsalted butter, softened
250g cream cheese, chilled


  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Lightly grease and line a 22 cm round cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Blitz the coriander seeds and star anise in a food processor or spice grinder to form a powder. Set aside, separating ½ teaspoon for garnishing.
  3. Beat the sugars, blossom water, oil and eggs together in a large bowl until frothy and well combined.
  4. Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a separate bowl to combine. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture in two batches, then stir in the parsnip, ginger, coriander stalks and freshly ground spices (remembering to set aside ½ teaspoon of the spices for garnishing) and mix together well.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30–40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly in the tin for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  6. While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Add the icing sugar, blossom water and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat together on medium–slow speed until the mixture comes together. Add the cream cheese and beat on medium–high speed for at least 5 minutes, or until fluffy and smooth.
  7. Place the cooled cake on a serving plate or stand and spread with the icing.

Brutes to grow

  • Parsnips have a reputation for being a tricky vegetable to cultivate, because when planted from seed it will take around 100 days for anything to appear. To encourage healthy growth, water with a seaweed fertiliser twice a month and ... wait.

Multiple blooms

  • Citrus blossoms can bud several times per year so make the most of the flowering periods with a DIY blossom water. Wash the petals thoroughly and dice finely, then transfer them to a bowl and cover with distilled water and a dash of vodka. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, bring the mixture to a gentle boil in a saucepan over a medium–high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook gently for 30 minutes. Leave to cool, then strain and store in a sterilised jar.
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