Well, that was the shortest summer on record. The rain is back and my Ugg Boots have resumed their normal position. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Wet weather is the perfect excuse for not exercising. “Can’t go for a walk today – might get pneumonia. Couldn’t possibly go for a run – might slip over and break my leg.” You get the picture. My former exercise habit has been replaced by two new pursuits (well, three if you include watching the Olympics). One being reading The Fifty Shades Trilogy which just arrived from Amazon (it better live up to the hype or I want my money back). And the other being the less-healthy pursuit of baking copious amounts of cakes for whoever will eat them. Like the gluten-free carrot cake that is the subject of today’s post. I’m calling it ‘Food Crush’s Second Birthday Celebration Cake’. Yes, it’s been two years. Any excuse, right?
It seems everyone loves carrot cake. Maybe it’s because they think it’s healthy. All those carrots must be good for you, right? Wrong. I remember from my Weight Watchers days (yes, I know) that carrot cake is the most fattening cake on the planet. But let’s not get disheartened, shall we – what carrot cake lacks in slimming qualities, it more than compensates in the taste bud department. Unless of course you were a housewife during the war and baked carrot cakes with a scanty 1½ tablespoons of sugar, dried egg, oatmeal and water (I read that on The Guardian’s article on how to bake the perfect carrot cake). Thankfully my recipe is much more generous on the sugar front and doesn’t contain any of the above.
What’s special about my gluten-free version (apart from the carrot that I finely grated using a new super-sharp kitchen gadget that nearly sliced off my fingers) is the inclusion of my very own gluten-free flour recipe. I felt it was time to wean myself off Doves gluten-free flour mixes and go out on a limb of my own (particularly handy for all you Aussie readers who can’t buy Doves). I’m proud to say that it worked beautifully. I used a mix of rice flour, potato flour, tapioca flour and buckwheat flour with some xanthan gum thrown in for good measure. I also threw in a ripe banana for extra moisture – always a good thing in gluten-free baking. Admittedly, it isn’t the thickest of cakes, so I recommend doubling the mixture and baking two and then stacking them on top of each other like the one in the photo. Best eaten on the day it’s baked or you can freeze it (wrapped in several layers of cling film) and defrost on the day of eating.
Gluten-free carrot cake
Loosely adapted from Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book (Second Edition)
2 free-range eggs (at room temperature)
150g light Muscovado sugar
150ml sunflower oil
225g gluten-free self-raising flour
2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
zest of one orange
50g roughly chopped walnuts, plus extra to decorate
175g finely grated carrot
1 ripe banana, mashed
For the icing:
Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
100g full-fat cream cheese
25g unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
150g pure icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla essence
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan forced) and grease and line the base of a 20cm deep round cake tin.
2. Put the oil, sugar and eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk well until the ingredients are combined.
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a separate bowl and then fold very gently into the liquid mixture. Fold in the remaining ingredients and pour into the cake tin.
4. Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin.
5. Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the icing sugar and vanilla essence, and beat until the mixture is light and creamy. Cover and put in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up before using.
6. Once the cake has completely cooled, decorate it with the cream cheese icing and walnuts.