I’ve been trying to cut back on refined carbohydrates recently, but find myself faced with a lack of dessert and cake. So I’ve tried this recipe out with the aim of making a cake that doesn’t include any flour or sugar. Wishful thinking? Well, here goes. I’ve based my recipe on Nigella’s Gluten-Free Venetian Carrot Cake with a couple of tweaks.
Firstly I’ve halved everything because I didn’t want a huge cake, and accordingly have reduced the tin size and the cooking time. Secondly, I have replaced the sugar with half artificial sweetener and half maple syrup.
The halving has made some of the measurements a little weird – i.e half of 75g of sultanas is 37.5g!
The artificial sweetener I have used is called Truvia; its a derivation of Stevia, which is a natural sweet tasting leaf. You replace sugar with a third of the weight of Truvia – i.e. 30g of sugar = 10g of Truvia.
With the maple syrup I replaced the equivalent weight of sugar with 3/4 of the weight of maple syrup, and also slightly reduced the other liquids in the recipe. In this case, as halving the recipe would have called for 1/2 an egg, I simply omitted that half egg.
1.5 tbsp pine nuts
1 medium carrot (approx. 100-125g)
38g mixed dried fruit
30g maple syrup
63ml regular olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 free-range egg
125g ground almonds
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the base of a 7in round cake tin with baking parchment and grease the sides with olive oil.
Toast the pine nuts by browning in a dry frying pan. Set aside.
Grate the carrots with a coarse grater, then sit them on a double layer of kitchen paper and wrap them, to soak up excess liquid. Set aside.
Put the mixed dried fruit in a small saucepan with the rum, bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for 2 minutes.
Whisk the Truvia, maple syrup and oil until creamily and airily mixed.
Whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs and, when well whisked, fold in the ground almonds, nutmeg, grated carrots, mixed dried fruit (with any rum that clings to them) and, finally, the lemon juice.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. The batter will be quite shallow in the tin.
Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over the cake and put it into the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out sticky but more or less clean.
Remove from the oven and let the cake sit in its tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and leave it on the rack to cool.
This was a nice cake. The taste of almonds was in the background but not obvious or overpowering. It wasn’t too sweet so I judged the Truvia correctly – it could even have taken slightly more maple syrup I think. It was moist without being too heavy.
However, it was what I would call an everyday cake, something I would happily have in my lunch box but probably wouldn’t make for visitors. It lacked the wow factor for me – I’m afraid I wouldn’t endorse Nigella’s claim that it’s divine – I’ve had better carrot cakes. Although I have changed her original recipe somewhat so I suppose I’m not completely comparing like with like.
If however one considers that this is a cake with no flour and minimal sugar – then it’s really rather impressive!