Carrot cake is one of my ultimate favourites with its juicy sweet sultanas, crunchy walnuts and cinnamon aroma. However, a lot of traditional carrot cakes are made using vegetable oil and a lot of sugar, both of which can lead to inflammation in the body at a cellular level. When my daughter came along, I wanted to make something that I knew I wouldn't mind her trying at her 1st birthday party- and this was the cake I decided upon. Of course, I made other types of treats for the party goers but wanted something special which I knew we could enjoy together. With the natural sweetness of carrots, orange and dried fruit, I set about making this cake to suit all the requirements of the people attending the party- no added sugar, gluten free and dairy free. So here is my recipe for you to try:
200g flour (I used 100g oat flour, 100g buckwheat flour but you could use wholemeal plain flour)
3 tsp baking powder
110g dates, finely chopped or quickly whizzed in food processor
50g desiccated coconut
50g walnuts, finely chopped or ground (I ground mine due to small people and choking hazards)
3 tsp cinnamon or ground mixed spice
110g melted coconut oil
150g carrot, grated
1 orange, zested and 4 tbsp juice reserved
2 eggs, beaten
Topping- Cashew cream:
150g cashew nuts (need to soak for a minimum of 3 hours so prepare ahead- soak in plenty of water)
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 150C/ Gas Mark 2.
2. Lightly grease and line an 8" cake tin.
3. Weigh and sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Chop/ whizz the dates and add to the bowl with the coconut, cinnamon/mixed spice and walnuts. Mix thoroughly.
4. Melt the coconut oil in another bowl. Grate the carrots and add to the oil along with the orange zest, orange juice and the sultanas. Add this wet mix to the dry mix and combine to make a thick paste.
5. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly.
6. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and even the top. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden and a skewer comes out clean.
7. Allow to cool in the cake tin for 10 minutes before tipping out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
8. Once the cake has cooled, prepare the cashew cream- drain and rinse the cashew nuts and add to the blender. Add the water, maple syrup and vanilla extract and pulse until smooth. Add generously to the top of the cake and serve.
When I first served this, I hadn't had time to trial it and didn't know how it would taste. Of course, when I told the adults at the party that the cake had no added sugar, dairy or gluten, they instantly turned their nose up and went for a more sugar laden offering. However, I, and they, were amazed at how delicious it was and how they came around to the fact that the cake was must better for them with less sugar and yet still tasted great!!
Hope you have time to give it a go! Think it will feature on our plates this Easter! Enjoy x