My daughter Nessie has been growing carrots – glorious, sweet and so good (as is she) – so carrots have been on the menu quite a bit here. I posted a simple roast carrots on instagram, and was asked for a carrot cake recipe. Hmmm….. I thought, okay, but wanted to re-work the recipe that appears in my first book Wholefood – heal, nourish, delight. Don’t get me wrong I love that recipe – dense, chock full of raisins, nuts, coconut and yes, pineapple. But I had been thinking to shift it to a slightly more wintery version (which really makes sense as that is when carrots are in season), to match those carrots more so with other foods that belong in the same season ( I also wanted a lighter textured crumb). This reflects very much where I am today in my wholefood journey – matching seasonality and locality, using ingredients from a simple pantry. But changing (or converting) a recipe is a process – often scientific, but also because we are working with real ingredients (with different energy fields) we have to work with intuition and heart too.
The original recipe calls for 1 cup white spelt, 1 cup wholemeal, 1 cup dark muscovado sugar, 4 cups grated carrot, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 cup each nuts and sultanas, 3 eggs and 1/2 cup oil (oh and that pineapple, 1/4 cup of the juice and the coconut). Looking at the core ingredients and knowing the cake, I reworked the trial recipe to:
1 cup white spelt (130 g), 1 cup wholemeal spelt (145g) 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 cup dark muscovado (170g) 2 cups grated carrot (250g) spices, vanilla, 3 eggs, 3/4 cup olive oil (185ml), 1/2 cup each nuts and raisins. So what I had in effect done, was to remove fat and moisture from so many nuts, coconut, pineapple (including it’s juice) and sultanas. To compensate for this, I increased the oil by 60ml, and reduced the amount of carrot. Yes, reducing the carrot will mean that some moisture is lost, but it also means that the batter is less bound by the carrot, and the leavening can move more freely through the batter. I chose to not do a simple wet to dry mix, but rather allow myself the opportunity to include more air into the batter (and thus lighten it) by beating the eggs and sugar to the ribbon before hand. The result: some of the spices were too strong in flavour (I had upped them considerably and included cardamom), and as you can see, it hasn’t risen all that well. It was slightly dry (only very slightly) but none the less it wasn’t bad – nothing that a bit of cream cheese icing (or a spread of butter) couldn’t kiss and make better. But, it was still a bit dense for me.
To me, there were two obvious issues. 1) it was too dense and 2) a little dry. Good conversions are best done by thinking (often over a cup of tea) and thus was on my mind as I went to bed that night. Somewhere around 1am, it occurred to me that even though the obvious next step was to increase the moisture, with 60ml orange juice (much more seasonally appropriate and I had hundreds from mum’s tree) I somehow felt that wasn’t going to be enough. Why ? Because it felt (and here is the heart and intuition bit) that the ingredients were somehow isolated from each other, it wasn’t tasting or feeling like a comfortable whole. But perhaps lessening the heft of the wholemeal flour by a bit might bring those primary ingredients closer together and allow them to form that relationship, and make the whole? Lessening the flour would also help with the dry factor. Lessening the flour and increasing the liquid moisture (the 60ml) orange juice would also make the batter a bit more liquid and allow the air produced by the leavening to actually move freely through the batter. I also changed the leavening slightly reducing the baking powder to 2 teaspoons, and using 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (an alkali which would react with that 60ml acidic orange juice) as it is a sturdier lifter than baking powder alone. Result ? Totally brilliant – was fabulous. At some point I will also try replacing the 3/4 cup of wholemeal spelt with 1 cup (110g) barley flour. Because of it’s super low gluten content, I feel confident that adding 1/4 cup extra of flour won’t make any difference…
It was super successful, loved, eaten and left overs lasted really well. If you’ve got carrots coming out of your ears right now, give this a go this weekend… (oh and these Carrot Fritters on an older post are so good too….)
Beautiful photography by and ©Harriet Harcourt
“What on earth is Jude talking about” ? I hear you ask… well a shrub is kinda like an old fashioned cordial, only it’s vinegar based (which preserves it). I love them, and last Christmas I started trying them out and feel pretty confident to tell you how I did it. It’s going to take about 2 weeks, so perfectly in time for Christmas. I just picked up those babies above the other day on my way home… seconds.
The Poole china…well, this year Christmas will be in my new home, with all the family coming. I’m setting the table (part of it will be a trestle table) and I thought to myself, I would love, love to use Mum’s glorious green Poole china. I warn you I may shed a tear as I write this, i’m a bit emotional at the moment… the stopping after a huge and massive year, and it doesn’t take much to get me crying. Mum is 96 and still lives at home, independently, still cooking but absolutely not as capable as she once was. She is at the pointy end of the stick in life, and wanting to move things out of the home to people. The Poole china was to go to me, and I asked mum the other day if I could use it for Christmas. Well, this week I packed it into boxes with mum watching and bought it home. “Check if there is anything else in the cupboard” she said, so i did, and there was – beautiful Kosta Boda glass bowls, stunning glass bowl… “take them too”. My mum has never had a lot, but what she had was beautiful – she has spectacular taste. And here was I packing them to leave her home forever, she was passing this onto me, preparing to know that this part of her life, and indeed her life was coming to it’s close. My mum has always been there for me, when i hated her, yelled at her, left her, she has loved and supported me no matter what. What value of a mother ? It’s everything. So that’s the Poole china. This Christmas, no matter where you mum is, give thanks to her for without our mums, who would we be?
So recipe below… it’s super easy and I hope you enjoy it. I haven’t given you a finished photo of the shrub because mine is still in the making, but if you look around the internet you will see them – THIS pic is gorgeous and will give you the idea. What I also do, when the shrub is finished is use the discarded peach (all sweet and vinegared up) to make peach chutney. Now, if you are looking for more Christmas ideas (like Marshmallow, Gingerbread House and goodness knows what, you can find them HERE. OR, you can just go to the blog and hit Christmas and have a look through.
May your days be merry and bright as we lead into this most special time of the year…
Why cake ? Because joy and deliciousness are nutrients in their own right, as our love and beauty. With the cooler weather, the cakes I bake become a little richer and with Mothers Day coming up, I threw in a couple of frostings as well. We’re getting dressed up and special.
Now, this cake is an old recipe – it was hands down the best selling cake back in my Earth Market days (the wholefood cafe and store I co – founded back in the late 90’s), and one of the most popular recipes from my first book Wholefood – heal, nourish, delight. This post is going to be all about the cake, I’ve got to get it finished, and then finish of packing up my house as I move in 2 weeks (equal measures of arrrrgggghhhhh and excitement). All of these beautiful photos ©Harriet Harcourt
The cake itself:
- If you choose to use the rapadura sugar it will be less sweet, more whole and possibly a little drier (a bit similar to my Coffee and Walnut Cake from Wholefood Baking) – this is because sugar makes up part of the liquid percentage in baking. But, I reduced the amount of sugar from the original also, and I give you the option of increasing it in the recipe (this will help to moisten it up). You can also get around this by baking it as one 20cm cake, then cutting it into 3 – I chose to divide the batter as 3 individual cakes, but think it suffered for that – mind you, there were very few complaints from the WACA (West Australian Cricket Association) testing crew – some did find it a little dry.
- This cake is largely dairy free – see cake itself recipe. The chocolate fudge frosting is dairy free but I chose to use the raspberry better buttercream for the in-between layers. If you would like to use all chocolate, there will be enough frosting to layer the cakes, and top and side it. The raspberry BB will only be enough for the 2 layers – you will need to double it if you want some for the top and side.
- The cocoa powder. Please, do not use raw cocoa powder – you won’t find any in my pantry. This recipe is designed for, and uses a dutched cocoa – this is a less acidic cocoa. It’s tricky to know which good (organic) brands are, but certainly Organic Times is, and generally freely available.
How to put the cake together:
1: I didn’t stress about making a perfect cake, hence I put it basically together on the workbench. But you can put it together on a cardboard round (making it easier to move onto the cake stand), and also do it on a cake turntable stand. I’m using my 15cm palette knife, here and for pretty much the entire cake.
2: Start by placing a very generous amount of chocolate frosting on top of the cake, then push it towards the edge, taking it down the side of the cake. continue this until the entire cake is covered. When it is entirely covered, pick it up using a larger palette knife and place on the cake stand.
3. I use my stainless steel squared off dough scraper, and gently turn the cake around while I even out the frosting on the side, then on to my trusty 15cm palette to tidy and clean it all up.
4: Onto decorating and eating !
Being a mum of my beautiful daughter Nessie, is without doubt the blessing of my life – here we are (when I still had dark hair) circa 1986, and how grateful I am to my mum, without whom I would have not been able to do a fraction of what I’ve been able to do in my life. Blessed indeed, and I wish the same for you… x jude
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