Parsnip, Citrus & Rye Coffee Cake
03 March 2023

Parsnip, Citrus & Rye Coffee Cake

We’re in it. We are in the doldrum dregs of a Pacific Northwest winter. It’s wet and, apparently, historically snowy. The sun has shown herself a few times, for whole days in some instances. Though very much appreciated, we, the people of the rain, will not be fooled. Our winter coats remain hung by the door. Our snow boots and thick wool socks are still readily available. Children can still be found watching the scrolling ticker on KGW8 Sunrise in the hopes of another snow day. Our ovens are still being turned on to both warm the home and our bellies.

Both the baking and the eating of this coffee cake is the perfect way to spend an afternoon in which the outside doesn’t appear the most inviting. Alternatively, a thick slice of this cake with a hot beverage after a blustery romp outside in the cold is a veritable dream.

From parsnips and other root veggies to locally roasted coffee and locally milled grains, many of the ingredients needed to make this coffee cake can currently be found at the PSU Farmers Market, open year round Saturdays from 9 am – 2 pm, November through March.

A pro tip – get to the market early in the day to have the best selection to choose from!

Parsnip, Citrus and Rye Coffee Cake

Adapted from the Coffee Coffee Cake recipe from “Dessert Person” by Claire Saffitz


13 x 9-inch pan (preferably metal)

kitchen scale

Stand mixer/ hand mixer



  • Coffee Ribbon

    • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules


  • Coffee Crumb Topping

    • 80 grams all-purpose flour
    • 80 grams rye flour
    • 50 grams rye flakes
    • 100 grams light brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
    • 113 grams unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature


  • Cake:

    • 170 grams tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 57 grams neutral oil, such as vegetable or grapeseed
    • 2 large citrus fruit (orange/grapefruit), both zested and one juiced
    • 200 grams granulated sugar
    • 150 grams light brown sugar
    • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
    • 113 grams rye flour
    • 340 grams all-purpose flour
    • ½ teaspoon cardamom
    • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 ½  teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • 3 medium parsnips, peeled & grated
    • 140 grams sour cream, Greek yogurt, or non-dairy yogurt alternative
    • 130 grams strong brewed coffee
    • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract



Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. If using a glass pan, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Prepare your baking dish by coating it with a thin layer of unsalted butter. Set aside.

For the coffee ribbon and crumble:

Before beginning the cake batter, prepare the coffee ribbon and crumble first. For the ribbon, simply mix together the instant coffee, cinnamon and sugar. Set aside. For the coffee crumble, take a tablespoon of citrus zest and rub it into the brown sugar. Add and whisk together the remaining ingredients, except the butter. With your hands, incorporate the butter into your crumble mixture until a sandy texture is achieved. Set aside.

For the cake:

Rub the remaining citrus zest into the granulated and brown sugars.

Whisk together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cardamom. In a separate bowl, combine the parsnip, sour cream, brewed coffee, the instant coffee, citrus juice and vanilla.

Starting at a low speed with a paddle attachment, mix together both granulated and light brown sugars, butter and oil. The aim here is to achieve a light and fluffy mixture. This step is important! Patience will reap all the rewards! This stage creates the air that produces the fluffy and light crumb that all cake makers are after. This step will take more time if using a hand mixer. Once you’ve reached light and fluffy, begin incorporating the room temperature eggs one at a time. During this phase be sure to stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Once all of the eggs are incorporated, you’ll begin adding the dries and the wet ingredients, alternating additions, beginning and ending with the dries. Often a pocket of dries will accumulate at the bottom and they’ll never join the party unless nudged with your rubber spat! Mix until just incorporated. If needed, you can finish incorporating the last of the dries by hand.

Pour half of the batter into your baking dish, making sure to spread it out evenly. Layer all of the coffee ribbon mixture across the first layer. Pour the remaining batter on top of the ribbon mixture, spreading it evenly once again. Top with the crumble.

Bake at 350 for 38-40 mins on the middle rack, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The cake will still have a slight wobble in the center when done.

Let cool completely. This cake will keep, covered, for at least three days.


Parsnip, Citrus & Rye Coffee Cake