Adapted from a recipe by Chef Caleb France, Cerulean Restaurant Chef France originally served this cake as an accompaniment to fish at his Winona Lake, Indiana, restaurant. We transformed it into a sweet and savory fall dessert. Enjoy with fried apples and a bit of whipped cream. For more about Cerulean:
Photography By D. Lucas Landis | September 01, 2013



Tie the thyme and sage together with kitchen twine.

In a medium-size saucepan, place the thyme, sage, parsnips, squash, milk, cream, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper over medium heat. Simmer until soft (about 20 minutes), stirring frequently. Remove herbs and cinnamon, purée the mixture in a blender and cool.

Butter and flour 2 round cake pans. Place parchment paper in the bottom of pans and butter again. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400°. In a medium-size mixing bowl, place the brown sugar and olive oil. Cream together. Add the beer and parsnip mixture and blend again. Finally sift in the cake flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until just combined. The batter will be very thick and heavy. Divide batter between the 2 cake pans.

Bake at 400° until a toothpick comes out clean, 45–50 minutes. Place on baking rack to cool completely.

Fry the apples and whip the cream as follows. Then place 1 cake on a serving platter, put the fried apples on top of the first cake, place the other cake on top and dust with powdered sugar. Serve with whipped cream.


Peel and slice apples. Set aside. Place butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the apples, salt and cinnamon and cook for 15–20 minutes, until apples become soft. Add the brown sugar and cook for 5 more minutes. Squeeze lemon over the apples and stir. Serve over the parsnip cake.


Place chilled cream in a bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Stir in the maple syrup. Serve over parsnip cake with fried apples.



  • 6 branches thyme
  • 8 sage leaves
  • ½ pound parsnips, peeled and medium diced
  • ½ pound yellow squash, peeled and medium diced
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup beer (tester used Bell’s Oberon)
  • 4 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting the finished cake
Fried Apples
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5 - 6 small baking apples
  • pinch salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
Maple Whipped Cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
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