Gluten-Free Parsnip-Walnut Cake
This gluten-free and vegan Parsnip-Walnut Cake is a great seasonal staple that will blow your mind on how delicious parsnips can be! This cake is a deliciously moist, lightly spiced, and healthy snack that you can munch on all day long and a great way to sneak in a few extra veggies. The Award-Winning Pastry Chef Monica Glass and I decided that we would collaborate and themed it on recipes that have played a major roles in our journeys. This Gluten-Free Parsnip-Walnut Cake evokes many of those precious memories of her growing up. Here is her story.
Growing up, my mom would keep bowls of walnuts around the house for snacking, and next to each bowl, she’d place a Nutcracker for display. The bowls of walnuts were a year-long thing. Something to make us snack smarter, reach for something healthier without questioning. Oddly, the Nutcrackers were also there year round and not just for the holiday season. They were never used for cracking open the hard shells, mom put out the metal crackers for that task, but now I believe it was FOR something more, to make us happy as we snacked. I used to say walnuts looked like little brains so I better eat them to get smarter. And I think it worked because I’ve loved snacking on walnuts ever since, and maybe I’m a little bit smarter today.
As a professional chef for 16 years now, memories are what inspire me to create new dishes. A single scent can be extraordinarily evocative. The trigger of a nostalgic taste can coax out the inner child in, probably, all of us. Walnuts remind me of my mother and how much she loved snacking and, particularly, healthy-ish snacking.
The memories are precious, and this is a lot of why I got into cooking. I love to share the joy of what cooking brings and how it can make you feel healthy and satisfied at the same time. Eating right and working out has always been a part of my daily life – I just feel better when I cook and know what goes into my body. I believe we can live our most nourishing and pleasurable lives through the kitchen.
Soft, squishy, moist, crave-able carrot cake is a Spring standard in my house. But, as an advocate of cooking in the season, the underdog parsnip stood out. So while the walnuts were what inspired this healthy-ish snacking cake, the parsnips are the intriguing element of surprise. A little healthy, a little indulgent sweet treat, this moist cake is perfect for snacking all day long.
Gluten-Free Parsnip Walnut Cake
- 1 ½ cups (325g) Avocado oil
- ⅔ cup (140g) Coconut sugar
- 1 cup (240g) Cane sugar
- 6 tbsp (200g) Aquafaba + 2 tsp chickpea liquid
- 2 cups (300g) All-purpose gluten free flour
- ¾ cup (75g) walnuts
- 2 ½ tsp (12g) baking soda
- 1 tsp (5g) vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp (9g) cinnamon
- 1 tsp (5g) salt
- 1 tsp (2g) cardamom
- 1 ½ cups (300g) Parsnips peeled and finely grated (about 4 whole parsnips)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9 x 5 x 2 ½” loaf pan with non-stick spray and parchment paper.
- Using a spice grinder (food processor or blender if you don’t have a spice grinder), finely grind the walnuts with some flour. Set aside.
- Using a whisk, blend together oil and sugars in a large bowl.
- Whisk in aquafaba and vanilla until fully combined. The batter should thicken slightly as the aquafaba emulsifies into the oil/sugar mixture.
- Add flour, walnuts, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt, whisking to combine.
- Fold in grated parsnips and lemon zest until just combined.
- Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour 10 minutes. Do not open door until at least 1 hour to prevent the center from collapsing.
- Remove from oven and cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
- Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Serve & Enjoy!