So I always knew that this blog would sooner or later start becoming an honest-to-goodness-and-gluttonous love for all things food. I mean, I am someone who lives for, and loves food. I remember once I was showing my mom around town, in Pune, India, and each of my stories went something like this, there in that corner, we had the best vada pav, and that’s Marzorin, they have yummmazing cakes and shakes, and ooh, this is Koregaon park, they have this amazing burger joint.. And my mom turns to me and asks, is that ALL you did in Pune, eat? Emmm, yeah-huhh!
My happiest places are farmers markets, restaurants, kitchens, patisseries, cafes, anywhere I am eating good food. And I am kind of proud of it :D
The other thing I love about food is baking it. But for someone who loves baking and baked products as much as me, I do very little of it nowadays. And lately, I always have an excuse for not doing it…I am in a new country, new house, am staying alone, counting the days until the husband gets here, it’s no fun when you are alone, I don’t have the stuff I need, I am going to gain weight yada yada yada… Excuses excuses, and more silly excuses.Time to stop the silly whining and get back to it.
So armed with my new formed resolve, I decided to make a wholewheat carrot cake. I had tons of carrots lying in my fridge, plus I really wanted to bake something healthy. I planned on using Jamie Oliver’s carrot cake recipe and tweaking that with my healthier substitutions. So what you will find is a cake recipe made with 100% wholewheat flour, NO sugar, just about 250 gms of butter, and rest is just carrots, cinnamon, orange, nuts, and eggs. I could make it even healthier by leaving out the eggs and butter, but those secrets are for another day. And if you are worried about where the sweetness will come from, trust me, the vanilla essence and cinnamon do the job. Promise.
I had all of the ingredients lying around: wholewheat flour, eggs, orange, cinnamon, vanilla essence, walnuts, unsalted butter, yay, I was good to go.
Turns out I wasn’t.
I stay in a rented fully-furnished apartment in Melbourne, and this house pretty much came with mostly all kitchen amenities. Oven pan, cooling rack, spatulas, knives etc. But while attempting to measure out the ingredients, I realised I didn’t have the right type of mixing pans to mix stuff in. Everything was just smaller than needed. PLUS there was no electric hand or stand mixer. Uh-Oh. No, can’t stop now! I was on a mission.
I mixed, I creamed, I folded, I beat, I whipped, I egg-white stiffened, and I created a MESS. The highlight of the night was when I had to sift in the flour, and I realised that all I had was this small tea-strainer to do so.
Yeah, I sifted 1.5 cups of wholewheat flour with THAT. Argh. But I trudged on.
By the end of it, the house was a mess, there were batter splotches everywhere I could see, I was a flour and egg white covered mess, BUT the cake was baking in the oven. Lalalala. All was good again.
(Psst, kind of silly of me, but I always smell my batter right before I put it into bake, and if there is an eggy smell, I know it’s going to be a big flop, but this time around, there was only the smell of oranges, and carrot and yummy cinnamon and I knew this was going to work)
Read on for my version of Jamie Oliver’s wonderful Carrot Cake, made with wholewheat flour and NO sugar. For any questions regarding any steps in the recipe, do reach out to me and I will help you as best as I can.
DISCLAIMER: Since all this was done in the middle of the night, alone at home, with my hands a yucky mess, please be warned about the pictures. There aren’t too many and what there are, are just about okay. You have been warned.
- 250 g unsalted butter, softened
- 8 tsp vanilla essence
- 5 large free-range eggs, egg yolks separated from egg whites
- zest and juice of 1 medium orange
- 1.5 cups (170 gms) wholewheat self-rising flour, sifted
- 1 slightly heaped teaspoon baking powder
- 100 g ground almonds
- 100 g shelled walnuts, chopped, plus a handful for serving
- 1.5 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 250 g carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
- sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Grease and line a 22cm-square cake tin or a round equivalent with greaseproof paper.
- Beat the vanilla essence and sugar together by hand or in a food processor until pale and fluffy. (Generally, when you cream eggs and butter, to make it pale and fluffy it takes a while, but since we are only beating the butter with the vanilla essence, this shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes)
- Beat in the egg yolks, one by one, and then add the orange zest and juice.
- Stir in the sifted flour and baking powder, and add the ground almonds, walnuts, spices, and grated carrot and mix together well.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, and then gently fold them into the cake mix.
- Scoop the mixture into the prepared cake tin and cook in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes until golden and risen. You can check to see if the cake is cooked by poking a cocktail stick (or in my case, a knife) into it. Remove it after 5 seconds and if it comes out clean the cake is cooked; if slightly sticky, it needs a bit longer, so put it back in the oven.
- Once cake is done, leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out on to a rack and rest for at least an hour. The cake came out all gloriously browned and risen from the oven.
And trust me, what a delight this cake was. It was nutty, sweet, cinnamon-y, had all that glazy carrot in that cake, and that lovely orange smell. It was wiped out by me and my friends over one dinner, and then packed away for their next day lunch treat.
Try it, and tell me if it worked as well for you as it did for me :)
For those of you who want to have a go at the original recipe, here it is: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/a-rather-pleasing-carrot-cake-with-lime-mascarpone-icing