Carrot Cake

Friday, March 28, 2014

Let's have cake, shall we? I think carrot cake has to be my all time favourite. There was an occasion in mind for this very cake, my birthday a couple of weeks ago. We dispensed with the cake as I made some muffins for breakfast and it was really going to be too much cake I thought. I settled for sorbet after a delicious lunch out at Almaz. So a week later with the kids still asking for cake, a birthday isn't complete without "the birthday cake". I dived in and got that oven humming along as I spiced up the gateau mix with the obligatory cinnamon and a touch of clove. I've experimented with cardamon before as I once tasted it in a carrot cake in Stockholm, it was lovely. I came a little undone where the frosting was concerned, in a previous effort I used coconut cream thickened with kudzu. My husband hinted at the time that the icing probably wasn't right for the cake. So with that in mind I peddled the cashew cream on this version. A calorific overdose of nuts is probably not going to help the waistline here but it's cake after all.

The cake is super moist and a little on the dense side, so it holds up rather well. For a more dramatic celebratory cake make two, and sandwich together with more frosting. This was my initial idea but laziness prevailed. I roasted the walnuts strewn across the creamy frosting for another taste dimension, the choice is yours. And same applies for the icing especially if you are partial to dairy and prefer the traditional cream cheese approach.

Carrot Cake
A word of warning about the cashew cream, it's best eaten on the day. An overnight stay in the fridge tends to dim it's luscious thickness.

1 3/4 cup walnuts, separated
1 1/4 cup whole spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
Pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp macadamia nut oil or olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
scant 2 cups grated juicy carrots

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius/400 degrees fahrenheit. Line a cake tin with baking parchment paper.

Roughly chop 1/4 cup of walnuts and set aside. Place a heaped 3/4 cup of walnuts in a food processor and blend according to the nut meal setting. Be careful not to overdo this or it will turn to paste. Place the nut meal in a mixing bowl. Sift the spelt flour, baking powder, bicarbonate soda and salt together before adding to the ground walnuts. Add the cinnamon and cloves and mix with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the coconut milk, maple syrup, macadamia nut oil and lemon juice together for a uniform consistency. Add this to the dry ingredients and gently combine for a smooth cake batter. Next gently fold through the 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and grated carrot into the mix. Pour the cake batter into the baking tin and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out to cool on a cake rack.

Whilst the cake is cooling line a baking tray with baking parchment paper and scatter the remaining walnuts evenly on the baking tray. Reduce the oven temperature to 150 degrees celsius/300 degrees fahrenheit and place the walnuts in the oven to roast for about 17 minutes. Remove from oven and let the walnuts cool down before you roughly chop them. Set aside until you are ready to cream the cake.

Cashew Cream
1 cup cashews
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp orange blossom water

Place all the cream ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Empty into a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour, this will firm up the icing. Once the cake is cool, smother the top with cashew cream and scatter the roasted chopped walnuts on top. Enjoy.