Spiced carrot cake with a moist, tender crumb. This Dairy-free, Gluten-free and Paleo recipe is made with olive oil, ground almonds, nuts and orange zest.
Carrots lend themselves well to sweet treats, containing more sugar than any other vegetable, apart from the sugar beet. They have been used for baking whenever sweeteners were scarce. Carrot puddings were popular in medieval times, and experienced a revival during world war two when sugar was rationed.
A traditional carrot cakes use vegetable oil for fat, rather than butter. Cakes made with oil preserve longer, as the oil stays liquid at room temperature, resulting in a moist and dense crumb. Cakes made with butter have a drier, finer crumb, and need to be eaten within a day or two of baking before they go stale. This is because oil is all fat, whereas butter contains 15-20% water. For this reason, it is important to make sure you whisk the eggs, honey and oil well, as this will suspend the oil in an emulsion, and stop the cake from turning out greasy.
for the carrot cake:
- 50g walnuts halves
- 50g pecans
- 2 1/4 cups (200g) ground almonds
- 1/4 cup (28g) coconut flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons mixed spice
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 5/8 cup (170g) honey
- 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
- grated zest of 1 organic orange
- 300g carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
for greasing the cake tin:
- olive oil
for the lemon frosting:
- 1/2 cup (105g) coconut oil, solid
- 1/4 cup (68g) honey
- grated zest of 1 organic lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)
- 3-4 tablespoons coconut flour (for thickening)
- Bake the cake. Preheat the oven to 160°C/340°F. Lightly grease the sides of a 20cm/8″ round, deep and loose-bottomed cake tin with olive oil, and line the bottom with baking paper.
- Arrange the pecans and walnuts in one layer on a metal tray, and roast in the preheated oven for 8 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes, then chop.
- In a small bowl, measure out the dry ingredients (ground almonds, coconut flour, cinnamon, mixed spice, baking soda and salt).
- In a large mixing bowl, measure out the wet ingredients (egg yolks, honey and olive oil).
- Put the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and whisk with an electric whisk for 2 minutes, until soft peaks form.
- Mix the wet ingredients until blended using the same whisk. Add the dry ingredients, and stir until blended using a wooden spoon. The mixture will be quite thick.
- Lighten the mixture by stirring in one-third of the whisked egg whites. Tip in the rest of the egg whites and gently fold in using a spatula: cut down the centre with the side edge of the spatula; scrape across the bottom of the bowl and up the side, scooping up the mixture as you go so that it is turned over and under; rotate the bowl 90° and repeat until fully blended. Be careful not to overwork the mixture and knock out the air, but make sure the bitter egg white is fully blended.
- Stir in the nuts, orange zest and grated carrot.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Smooth the top with the back of a wetted metal spoon. Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes – 1 hour, until golden brown on top and springy to the touch.
- Wait until the cake has cooled for 10 minutes before running a palette knife around the sides and turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
- Frost the cake. Once the cake has completely cooled, make the lemon frosting. Combine all the ingredients except for the coconut flour in the small bowl of a food processor, and blitz until smooth. Add the coconut flour, a tablespoon at a time, until the consistency is just right. Spoon on top of the cake and spread with a palette knife dipped in just-boiled water.