Cakes are a true labor of love. And I love every part of them. To me a cake symbolizes celebration. Most often, celebration of life and love for said life. For the past few years I’ve been making birthday cakes for my friends. During college (when I had assignments due on top of tests), sometimes that meant elevating a Betty Crocker cake with some lemon zest. Or trying something new, like a seasonal pumpkin cake.

As the years have gone by, and birthdays come around, for some reason I always questions what cake recipe to use. Vegan cakes are tricky! Plus, my friends are not vegan. So that means I worry extra about the taste and texture. The good news— I haven’t had a complaint, yet! Because cakes are so special to me, today I’m extra excited to be sharing my blogs first cake recipe.

I’d like to introduce you to a Spiced Parsnip Cake with a Tangy Orange Frosting. I know— Parsnip?! What am I thinking?! Trust me. This cake is a spin-off of a Springtime or Easter carrot cake with some extra spice. The parsnips are paired with cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg, making an infusion of deliciousness. The frosting is cashew-based. Maple syrup makes it sweet, apple cider vinegar makes it tangy, and orange zest gives it an oh-so subtle citrus spark.

For some extra pizzazz I added candied oranges to the top. This is not a necessary addition… A toasted walnut or coconut shred crust would be just as pretty! But, maybe you’re inspired?! Just incase, you can find the instructions for candied oranges down below. I hope you give this cake a try— let me know in the comments how it turns out!


Cake Yield: 2- 8x8 inch cakes

Cake Time: 45 minutes

Frosting Yield: About 2 cups

Frosting Time: About 4+ hours


For the Cake:

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • ½ tsp ground cardamom

  • ½ tsp nutmeg

  • ¾ cup applesauce

  • ½ cup canola oil

  • 2 tsp vanilla

  • 1 ½ cup coconut sugar, or sub brown sugar

  • 3 tbsp flax meal + 9 tbsp water

  • 2 cups grated parsnips

  • ½ cup toasted and chopped walnuts

For the Frosting:

  • 1 ½ cups cashews

  • ½ cup chilled full-fat coconut milk, mostly the solid top

  • ¼ cup maple syrup

  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

  • ¼ tsp lemon zest

  • 1 tsp orange zest  

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • ¼ tsp salt

For the Candied Oranges (optional):

  • 3 sliced oranges, I used two blood and one navel

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 1 cup water


For the Frosting:

  1. Begin with the cashews: Soak cashews in boiling water for 1-2 hours. Drain and rinse thoroughly, then add to a blender or food processor along with remaining ingredients. Blend until super smooth. This might take 5-10 minutes depending on your processor. Adjust frosting as needed with extra maple syrup, lemon zest and apple cider vinegar.

  2. Let it cool: Transfer frosting to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and store in fridge overnight or for 1-2 hours. The longer it cools the stiffer it will be.

For the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line with parchment and grease two 8-inch cake pans.

  2. To begin: In a small bowl combine flax meal and water. Set aside to let gel. Next, grate the parsnips. Then whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cardamom, nutmeg, and ground cinnamon. Combine the grated parsnips with the dry ingredients. Set aside.

  3. For the walnuts: If your walnuts are not already toasted and chopped, then use a skillet on low heat, tossing the walnuts for five minutes. Or spread the nuts on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes, tossing occasionally.

  4. Time to combine: In a separate bowl combine coconut sugar, apple sauce, canola oil, vanilla extract, gelled flax meal and water mixture. Then incorporate the roasted walnuts, dry and wet ingredients. Mix until fully combined.

  5. Bake your cakes: Divide batter evenly among cake pans. I used a measuring cup to do so. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of cakes comes out clean, about 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

  6. Frost your cake: When ready to frost your cake, blend frosting for 2 minutes to ensure it is extra smooth. Spread an even amount on one cake, then place your second cake on top. For a naked looking cake, spread minimal frosting on the edges. Decorate with candied oranges, toasted coconut or walnuts.

For the Candied Oranges:

  1. Start by slicing: Slice oranges very thin with a sharp knife.

  2. For the sugar water: Fill a large pot or saute pan with the sugar and water. Bring to a boil on high heat, then add in sliced oranges and reduce to low-medium heat. It’s fine if some of them overlap.

  3. Allow Oranges to Candy: Let oranges cook for 30-40 minutes. Then remove each from the water, letting excess sugar drip off. Place on sheets of parchment paper. Let cool for about an hour, or overnight in the fridge. When ready to top cake, position oranges however you’d like. You can make the more ruffled by folding in half.

Notes: Cake recipe inspired by Martha Stewart and frosting recipe from Minimalist Baker.