Spiced Parsnip Cake with Ginger Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8-inch round cake

For the Cake

1½ cups flour

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1½ teaspoons cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¾ teaspoon ground allspice

¾ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

½ cup extra-light olive oil

½ cup buttermilk or whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups packed, shredded peeled parsnips from 3 medium–large parsnips (11 ounces)


For the Frosting

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

4 packed teaspoons peeled, grated fresh ginger

⅔ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

4 tablespoons pure maple syrup, ideally Grade B/Grade A: Dark Color and Robust Flavor


For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter the sides and bottoms of 2 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper circles, then butter the parchment paper and flour all of the insides of each pan.


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and salt. 


In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the oil, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir gently with a wooden spoon just until combined. Gently stir in the parsnips. 


Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans and bake for about 22 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out without any streaks of batter (moist crumbs are OK). 


Once the cakes are done, remove from the oven and place the pans on wire cooling racks for 10 minutes. After the cakes have cooled in the pans for 10 minutes, run a thin spatula or butter knife gently around the edge of the pan to loosen any areas that may be stuck. Place a wire rack over the top of the cake and turn the whole unit upside down to release the cake. Repeat with the other cake pan. Remove parchment from both cakes and let them cool completely.


For the Frosting

While the cakes are cooling, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and butter together in a large bowl until smooth. Add the vanilla and ginger; beat to mix in thoroughly. Gradually add the sifted confectioners’ sugar in small batches, beating well after each addition, to avoid lumps. Pour in the maple syrup and beat briefly until smooth. The frosting is easiest to spread at room temperature but should be covered and refrigerated if it won’t be used in the next hour or two. Allow to come to room temperature before spreading.


To assemble the cake, set one completely cooled layer on a serving plate. Spread approximately one-third of the frosting evenly across the bottom layer. Set the second cake layer over the frosted first layer and spread another one-third of the frosting across the top layer of cake. Use the remaining one-third of the frosting to frost the sides of the cake. Serve at room temperature. Cake keeps best when stored covered in the refrigerator. 

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