This may sound silly to a bunch of you but I didn’t discover parsnips till I was an adult. I remember the first time I saw them in a Sydney market and I assumed they were pale carrots until I read the little sign in front of them. Parsnips. The name helped me not one bit.
But I am adventurous cook and eater so I bought a bunch and took them home. Those were the days before internet but I did have a paperback cookbook from the Australian Women’s Weekly series with traditional Australian recipes to consult. Parsnips could essentially be used anywhere a carrot could. In sweet cakes or savory stews. My favorite way of eating them is roasted in the oven or caramelized in a hot pan. Either way emphasizes their native sweetness.
This rustic parsnip bread features parsnips two ways, mashed in the dough for flavor and moisture and tucked in slits on top for flavor and decoration. This recipe is adapted from Julia Child’s rustic potato bread, which I first made more than fours ago, back when I had just moved to Cairo and found myself in a freezing cold house without a working heater. An ideal time to turn the oven on! Read that post for tips if you are trying to get yeast dough to rise in a cold kitchen.
For the dough:
3/4 lb or 340g firm parsnips
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup or 60ml tepid reserved parsnip water (80 – 90°F or 26.7 – 32.2°C)
1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups or 280g – 310g flour
For the optional topping:
1 parsnip about 3 1/2 oz or 100g
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon flakey sea salt
Peel your parsnips for the dough and cut them into cubes. In a small pot, cover the parsnips with water and add 1 teaspoon of the salt.
Cook until they are fork-tender. Reserve 1/4 cup or 60ml of the parsnip water and then drain the parsnips well in a colander. Pop them back in the pot and mash them with a potato masher while they are still warm, getting them as lump free as possible. Set aside to cool.
When the parsnips are cool, stir the yeast into the parsnip water, warming it again if necessary. It needs to be warm enough to activate the yeast. Leave for about five minutes.
Meanwhile, put your cool mashed parsnips in the mixer and beat briefly to loosen them up.
Add in the olive oil, the yeast/water mixture and the last teaspoon of salt. Mix until the liquids are incorporated into the mashed parsnip.
Change your mixer attachment to the dough hook and start adding in the flour. This mixture is going to be very dry at the beginning.
For the first rise, put a bit of cling film on the top of the mixing bowl and allow the dough to rest for 20-30 minutes at room temperature.
To caramelize the last parsnip, peel it and cut it into thin, short pieces.
Drizzle the olive oil in a small non-stick pan and gently fry the parsnip pieces until they are golden on all sides.
Sprinkle in the sugar and keep cooking the parsnips till the sugar has melted and started to brown a little. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Once your first rise is done, roll the dough into a ball and then press out into a round disk. Starting at the end closest to you, roll the dough into a tube. When you get to the last turn, make sure the seam side is down and fold the sides under.
Place the roll of dough on a lined baking pan and use a sharp knife to cut slits in the top. Tuck the caramelized parsnips into the slits. Drizzle any oil left in the pan over the top then sprinkle on some flakey sea salt.
Cover the loaf loosely with cling film and put in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.
Put a pan in the bottom of the oven about halfway through the preheating process. This pan gets really hot and a little water added just as you put in the loaf creates enough steam for a lovely crust.
When the second rising is done, put the baking pan with the loaf in the oven. Quickly pour a 1/2 cup or 120ml water into the pan at the bottom and close the oven immediately.
Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until the crust is nice and brown and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped. Check halfway through and rescue any parsnips that have fallen off so they don’t burn on the pan, which would be a terrible waste when you could be eating them. Cover the loaf loosely with foil for the remainder of the baking time if you feel the parsnips or the bread is browning too fast.
If you are so inclined, you can check the internal temperature to see if the rustic parsnip bread is cooked throughout. It should be about 200°F or 93°C. in the middle.
This month my Bread Bakers are baking breads with root vegetables of all kinds, with thanks to our host Karen of Karen’s Kitchen Stories. We've got both sweet and savory bakes for you today, so something for everyone!
- Beetroot Bread from Sara's Tasty Buds
- Caramelized Onion Cheddar Bread from Hezzi-D's Cooks and Books
- Caramelized Onion Gouda Casatiello from Hostess at Heart
- Carrot Spiced and Teff Bread from kidsandchic
- Colocasia Root (Taro Root) Flatbread from Mayuri's Jikoni
- Garlic and Herb Wreath Bread from Herbivore Cucina
- Garlic Cheese Bombs from Sizzling Tastebuds
- Ginger Sweet Rolls from Passion Kneaded
- Korean Onion Bread from Gayathri's Cook Spot
- Potato Dinner Rolls from Cook's Hideout
- Pull Apart Onion Bread from A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Rustic Parsnip Bread from Food Lust People Love
- Sourdough Onion Pockets from Karen's Kitchen Stories
- Stuffed Aloo Parathas from Sneha's Recipes
- Sweet Potato Bread from Cindy's Recipes and Writings
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.