Monday, May 4, 2009

Easter, a birthday, a picnic and a carrot cake

It was my birthday on Easter Monday and I desperately wanted to make a healthy cake for my birthday cake. Would you believe it I've never made carrot cake before, and so thinking that it would be very fitting for an Easter birthday, I decided that carrot cake would be my birthday treat.

So I shopped around for the ingredients, I mostly used organic ingredients, and had great fun sampling all the different sultanas and raisins at what is arguably my favourite stall at the farmer's market, and through that process honed in on exactly what I wanted my cake to be like.

I based the cake on this recipe at Elana's Pantry, a great site I've found that focuses on healthy food suitable to people on restricted diets, but I've changed it a little bit to make it my own. The great thing about this cake is that you can tailor it to suit your tastes or mood. Next time I might try adding a little coconut and experimenting with different dried fruits.

I can't rave about this cake enough. Its rustic, dense, full of flavour, and delicious. It didn't have any of that greasiness to it that some carrot cakes do. I was very proud of it I must say. It was the dessert at a family picnic we had for Easter Sunday!

Just one other thing - although I've named this cake Healthy Carrot Cake (and it probably is one of the healthiest versions I've seen) it still has a fair few calories in it, although it has a lot less oil and sweetener in that the normal variety. Be aware though that this cake is chockers with nuts, has a load of dried fruit in it and is made with a majority of nut flour. I mainly refer to it as healthy because it's made with whole ingredients which makes it better for your body.

Healthy Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Nutty Topping

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups almond meal
1 cup spelt flour 1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp sea salt
5 eggs 1 tsp
vanilla extract
½ cup brown rice syrup
¼ cup camellia tea oil
3 cups grated carrot
1 cup chopped walnuts*
½ cup sultanas
½ cup currants

Frosting Ingredients:
440 gms low fat cream cheese
2 -3 tb creamed honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Nut Topping Ingredients:
Cinnamon, to taste
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1 tsp macadamia oil
100 gms chopped macadamias
100 gms chopped walnuts
spoonful of honey

Cake Method:
1. Mix together the flours, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate bowl mix together the wet ingredients with an electric mixer; eggs, oil, syrup, vanilla. Then add carrot, sultanas, currants and walnuts into the wet ingredients.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
4. Place batter in a deep 18 cm baking tin that has been oiled and has baking on the bottom. Cook for approximately 1 hour in a 180 C oven. After that check for 'doneness' until the cake tester comes out clean.
5. Leave to cool for 5 mins and then turn out onto a cake cooler to cool.

Frosting Method:
Beat ingredients together with an electric mixer until smooth.

Nut Topping Method:
1. Add all the ingredients to a small fry pan and heat until melted and syrupy.
2. Add chopped nuts and heat through until roasted and the syrup has caramelised. Take off heat to cool.

Once all the cake elements have cooled completely spread frosting over cake and down the sides until completely covered with a knife or metal spatula. Then add the nut topping, toasted sunflower seeds and toasted pepitas. Serve.

* Note – I used Tasmanian walnuts they are local (relatively) and are a damn site nicer than Californian ones. They are in season now and I always choose these over their American counterparts when I have the opportunity.

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