Melissa’s Life Changing Carrot and Olive Oil Cake
Sorry for the melodramatic title of this cake, but to be honest it was life-changing for me, so please just go with it. It’s the complex play of the spices that really brings this cake to life. Cloves, cardamom and cinnamon combine to heighten the flavours and aromas to an almost intoxicating level. With 500g of grated carrot in this cake, there’s no getting away from its presence, though it’s surprising how the cake doesn’t really taste of it. Its purpose is to bind in the flour – in this case spelt, that is higher in protein and fibre than wheat. The fruity olive oil unifies all the other flavours. This recipe is so forgiving. Even overcooked, it’s still moist and delicious!
We have to get really creative when it comes to “icing” our cakes as we don’t use icing sugar. The vanilla cashew nut icing is one of our go-to icing recipes – it’s really easy to make and absolutely delicious. The basic recipe is for a vanilla icing, but it can easily be adapted to different flavours – we particularly like to add matcha for a vibrant green colour!
215ml extra virgin olive oil
250g coconut sugar
4 eggs, beaten
250g spelt flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp salt
125g pecans, coarsely chopped
500g carrots, grated
vanilla cashew nut icing (see below)
roughly chopped walnuts, for topping
For the vanilla cashew nut icing
150g unsalted cashew nuts, soaked for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight
300g full-fat coconut milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
75g maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g coconut oil, melted
First, make the icing. Drain and rinse the soaked cashew nuts. Put them in a blender with all the other ingredients and blend until completely smooth and creamy. Pour into a container and chill in the fridge until firm. We usually leave the icing in the fridge overnight, but around 4 hours should do the trick.
Preheat oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas mark 5 and line a 23cm round, deep loose-bottom cake tin with baking parchment.
In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, sugar and eggs until well combined.
In a second bowl, combine the flour and the other dry ingredients and make a well in the centre. Add the egg and oil mixture and stir thoroughly until it is all blended. Finally, add the pecans and carrots and mix again.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for about 1 hour 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack. Once it’s completely cool, top it with either vanilla cashew nut icing or maple cream cheese icing.
The olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats that are better for your heart than the saturated fats in butter.
Extracted from Modern Baker by Melissa Sharp with Lindsay Stark. (Ebury Press, approx €31). Photography by Laura Edwards.