Sticky toffee parsnip, apple and pear cake with a gently salted caramel buttercream

Sticky toffee parsnip, apple and pear cake with a gently salted caramel buttercream_75565

This showstopper of a cake is crammed with seasonal ingredients grown by British farmers.

Parsnips add a sticky sweetness, and a lovely nutritious kick (I won’t be telling my fusspots it’s anything other than sticky toffee cake!), grated apples and chopped pear bring a comforting taste. I love piling this high with scrumptious whipped caramel buttercream and a pinch of sea salt flakes adds a lovely twist. It will also be happily made into smaller cakes and given to friends and family.


For the cake:

  • 350g unsalted butter
  • 400g soft brown sugar
  • 50ml golden syrup
  • 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste
  • 6 eggs
  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of mixed spice
  • 350g (weighed once grated) parsnips – roughly 3 parsnips once topped and tailed and peeled
  • 1 apple, peeled and coarsely grated (approx. 100g grated apple)
  • 2 pears, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces

For the salted caramel buttercream:

  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 600g icing sugar
  • 6 tbsp of tinned caramel (or use a thick caramel sauce)
  • A pinch of sea salt flakes – add a little and then mix in and taste before adding any more
  • 2 tbsp of milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Line 4 x seven-inch sandwich tins with non-stick baking paper and oil with a tiny bit of rapeseed oil.
  3. Soften the butter and cream together with the sugar, syrup and vanilla paste.
  4. Beat the eggs in a jug then add to the butter and sugar mixture a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Sift in the flour, baking powder and mixed spice and fold into the mixture gently, using a thin spatula or a large metal spoon.
  6. Once the dry ingredients are completely combined, fold in the grated parsnips, grated apple and chopped pear.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins and bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes or until springy and golden.
  8. To make the buttercream. Put the butter into a large mixing bowl with roughly half of the icing sugar, the caramel and milk, beat well and once it’s creamy and combined, add the remaining icing sugar and the sea-salt and mix again.
  9. Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool for about five minutes in their tins before carefully loosening and turning onto a cooling rack.
  10. Once the cakes are completely cool, you can put the cake together. Use a bread knife to trim the tops off the cakes and level them if they are very domed or wonky!
  11. Use a blob of buttercream to stick the first cake to a pretty cake stand or plate.
  12. Cover the top with a layer of buttercream or if you want the pretty icing on the picture, fill a piping bag with the buttercream and snip the end off, so you have a hole about 1.5cm wide. I spread icing on the middle of the cake and then just pipe around the edge, as this seems to use less buttercream than piping the whole of the cake.
  13. Add the next cake and continue until you reach the very top. Spread or pipe the remaining buttercream to cover the top and then decorate with edible flowers, herbs and little gingerbread biscuits.

Miranda is a food writer, home-baking expert and finalist on the first series of The Great British Bake Off.

Follow her on Twitter @MirandaBakes, on Facebook, and on Instagram

Last edited: 11 November 2020 at 09:40

Have your say

Ashling - 15/11/2020 21:51:00

Can you freeze it to have at Xmas?

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