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  • Writer's pictureLeanne Fullwood

Pear, Parsnip and Caramel Cake

I read a recipe for a pear and parsnip Cake a few months ago and it’s been on my ‘to bake’ list for a while now. I was asked to supply some goods for a charity bake sale and decided to crack out this recipe. I added the salted caramel for a little more indulgence and the cake was purchased whole by one of the hospital consultants and all the proceeds went to the Brathay Trust.

The cake itself is is not overly sweet and although not strictly ‘healthy’ in reducing refined sugars, I think this is a great recipe to try for something slightly different! I love the drip effect of the caramel and I’ve given some tips on how to get this effect so give it a go and see what you think!

Pear, Parsnip and Caramel Cake

SERVES 12-18


150g peeled, raw parsnip

4 ripe pears

340g unsalted butter

225g caster sugar

6 large free-range eggs

3 tsp vanilla extract

340g self-raising flour

3 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

For the buttercream:

400g unsalted butter

800g icing sugar (confectioners')

3 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of sea salt

For the salted caramel:

60ml water

200g caster sugar

160ml double cream

70g unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt


To make the cake:

1- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan Grease three 20cm/8in cake pans and line the bases with baking parchment.

2- Grate the parsnip then peel, core and finely dice the pears. Set aside

3- In a free standing or electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy.

4- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and adding a tablespoon of flour after each egg.

5- Stir In the parsnip, pears and vanilla.

6- Sift in the remaining flour, baking powder and salt, and stir gently to combine.

7- Divide the batter between the three prepared pans and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and the centre springs back when touched.

9- Leave to cool in the pans for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Make the caramel:

10- Place the water and sugar on a medium heat and allow the sugar to dissolve and start to bubble. Do not stir the mix as it can cause the sugar to crystallise.

11- After a few minutes, the liquid sugar will start to brown- watch carefully and lower the heat if necessary to ensure the sugar doesn’t burn.

12- Once the sugar has reached an amber colour, remove from the heat and stir in the double cream. The mixture will bubble a lot- just keep mixing!

13- once this settles, add small cubes of the butter one at a time until all the butter is absorbed.

14- Set aside in a clean glass jar to allow to cool.

Make the buttercream:

15- Add the butter, milk and vanilla to a free standing mixer with paddle attachment. Whip until soft and smooth and then add the icing sugar (mix on a low speed to combine gradually!)

To assemble:

16- Place one of the three sponge layers on a board and cover with buttercream. Pipe a run of buttercream around the edge and drizzle some of the cooled caramel on top. Repeat with the second layer.

17- On the top layer, spread the buttercream across the top and around s the sides and smooth as you go. Chill the cake in the fridge for around an hour.

18- if the caramel has set too much (it should drizzle nicely off a spoon) then microwave for 5 second bursts until runnier.

19- Using a teaspoon, place dollops of the caramel along the edge and push small amounts gently down the side of the cake. Do each bit at a time to stop the caramel setting too quickly and work your way around the cake.

20- For a finishing touch, pipe swirls of buttercream along the top edge of the cake.

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