Sticky toffee cake with apples, pears and parsnips

27 October 2023

A sticky toffee cake with apples

This recipe comes from Countryside food columnist, Miranda Gore Browne. She says:

“Dates, spices, sugars and other treasures from the trade routes have been enhancing locally-grown produce and meat for centuries.

“Warming and comforting, these precious ingredients gave us gingerbread and parkin, sticky toffee pudding and fruit cake that brightened many a dark wet winter’s day and chilly farmyard kitchens.

“The humble, often-forgotten and misunderstood parsnip is a valuable addition to wintry baking too. This sticky toffee cake is a great place to start experimenting with its superpowers.”


  • 1 pear
  • 2 eating apples
  • 200g dates, without stones, roughly chopped 125ml water
  • 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g soft light brown sugar
  • 100g parsnips, coarsely grated
  • 1 tbsp of golden syrup
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 175g self-raising flour

For the sauce:

  • 90g soft brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp of double cream
  • 65g butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract


Recipe courtesy of Miranda Gore Browne.

Miranda is a food writer, home-baking expert, director of The Kitchen School and passionate foodie. She was also a finalist on the first series of The Great British Bake Off. Miranda has written two books, Biscuit and Bake Me a Cake as Fast as You Can, both published by Ebury Press.


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, line on round 8-inch tin with a cake tin liner or non-stick baking paper.
  2. Put the dates into a pan, add the water and bring to the boil. Add the bicarbonate of soda and remove from the heat. Stir well and put to one side to cool a little.
  3. Cream together the unsalted butter and sugar, add the eggs and syrup, and mix again to combine well. Add the sticky dates and the grated parsnip and stir in. Then gently fold in the flour and vanilla extract.
  4. Thinly slice the apples and pears and put about two-thirds in the bottom of the lined cake tin. Spoon in the mixture, smooth over evenly. 
  5. Sprinkle the remaining fruit on top.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Whilst the cake is in the oven, put the sugar, cream, butter and vanilla for the sauce together in a pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes.
  8. Check the cake is baked, put a skewer into the middle and check it comes out clean. The cake should be springy to the touch.
  9. Pour the sauce over the cake then put it back in the oven for a few minutes until melting and starting to bubble and go golden.

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