Gluten Free Carrot and Date Cake

Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free
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Today I was going to go to uni and finish three assignments, but instead I skipped class and made a carrot cake.

I’m worried by how often this has been happening lately. Very worried. But it’s such a nice day today! If you live in Sydney you’ll agree this last week has been awesome. Goodbye winter and having to sit on my heater every five minutes while I’m getting dressed.

I am kind of sad it’s too hot to drink hot chocolate now though. I developed the perfect recipe this winter involving lots of cinnamon and homemade almond milk. Sooo good.

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I’ve been getting weirdly stressed about making blog posts lately, I don’t know if anyone noticed how late each post is going up. I just can’t decide what to make! And when I do decide, I can’t find the time to make it and photograph it and edit it in time. So stressful!

This morning though the urge to make carrot cake was stronger than the voice saying “but you already made a banana carrot layer cake” and a carrot loaf for this blog. Not to mention the best carrot cupcakes of all time.

But you can never have too many carrot cake recipes! Right? Right guys?! And besides, this one is gluten free. It’s also absolutely delicious. Super moist and fluffy and yogurty from the icing (if you go the non-vegan way). it’s the kind of cake where you cut yourself a second slice before you’ve even finished the first piece, not that I would know anything about that…
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My sister and I demolished half the cake this morning, in-between listening to all the new music I downloaded and dancing with my dog. I’m somehow not feeling too regretful about missing my morning lecture about client/lawyer retainers.

You can either top this cake like I have, with a cup of strained yogurt mixed with 2 tbsp of maple syrup, or you can use coconut yogurt or cashew cream for a vegan option. Any will be delicious! Enjoy 🙂

One Year Ago: Carrot, Pear and Quinoa Crumble Muffins

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Gluten Free Carrot Cake: Inspired by this recipe

3 eggs OR 3 tbsp chia seeds mixed with almond milk
2 very ripe bananas
15 fresh dates, seeded
6 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon

3 medium carrots, grated finely (skin on ok)

300g yogurt, drained in a cheesecloth for at least an hour
4 tbsp maple syrup

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Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and line a 20cm round cake tin.

Either mix the chia seeds with the almond milk and set aside, or whisk up the 3 eggs. In a blender, blitz the banana, dates and oil. In a medium bowl sift together all the dry ingredients.

Fold the eggs into the dry ingredients, then fold in the banana date mix. Stir in the grated carrots and pour into the tin. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

Mix together the yogurt and maple syrup or honey, or 300g cashew cream with maple syrup. Top the cake once it is cool and keep in the fridge.
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Apple and Pear Honey Crumble with Toasted Almonds

Optional Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

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Ok, I’ve finally accepted it. It’s officially winter now in Sydney. I may or may not have attempted to hang on to Summer for a little too long this year. I may have bought a bikini yesterday. And a pair of shorts. But to be fair the warm weather lasted for ages! There were a few chilly nights, where I insisted on wearing summer clothes and ended up having to shelter under my taller friends’ armpits for warmth. But all in all this Autumn was rather balmy. 

It’s strange how in Sydney no one really accepts that it gets cold in Winter. All through Summer everyone’s super prepared with their chilled watermelon and beach trips, but come winter literally no one knows how to act. No one even owns proper coats, let alone umbrellas or *gasp* thermals. For the first time ever last night I actually used the heating in my room, thinking, “hmm. 28C seems like a pretty nice temperature.” One hour later I woke up sweaty and panicked, dopey from all the gas in my room. I had to crawl to the remote and turn the heat down. I had to crawl.

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So today this is my slightly better remedy for winter. Everyone knows the best part about winter is the dessert. It must be warm and it must be served with vanilla ice cream. Otherwise the criteria is pretty vague. We had a whole bunch of pears and apples sitting in the fruit bowl and at first I was going to make a pie, but who has time for that?! Also, I wanted to eat this particular dessert for breakfast. This was also why I made the crumble in individual bowls, so that no confused lost soul would accidentally think I made the crumble for sharing purposes. 

I decided to try some new flavours in the crumble as a little experiment, and they worked so well I knew I had to post the recipe. The cinnamon and honey go so well with the pears! I literally couldn’t stop eating it. But the flavour that worked best was the oranges I squeezed over the fruit to stop it going brown. We had heaps of oranges as well and I juiced a couple to stop the fruit going brown as I took photos. Holy moly! It made the filling so much better! I would possibly vote this crumble one of the best I’ve ever tasted. 

Remember to serve with ice cream. And you should probably wear woolly socks whilst you eat it, preferably whilst watching Brigitte Jones Diary. But it’s up to you 🙂

One Year Ago: Tangy Lemon Curd Frozen Yogurt

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 Apple Crumble with Honey and Almonds:

6 medium firm apples, peeled and sliced 

6 medium firm pears, peeled and sliced

juice of 2-3 medium oranges

1 heaped tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp runny honey, or maple syrup for vegan

For the fruit filling, combine everything in a heavy bottomed pan and cook, covered, on a low heat for about 15 minutes, until the fruit is soft but still holding its shape. Preheat the oven to 160C (320F). 

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For the crumble:

50g butter (vegan butter or coconut butter can be substituted for vegan) chopped 

100g wholemeal flour (almond butter for gluten free)

100g gluten-free oats

40g toasted almonds, chopped roughly

2 tbsp raw sugar 

25ml almond milk

Rub the butter and flour together in a bowl between your fingers until the mixture is crumbly but not doughy. Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients until combined. Pour over the almond milk and chop through the mixture with the spoon until everything is lightly crumbly. 

Spoon the fruit into an oven proof dish (or around 6-8 small ones). Cover with the crumble and bake for half an hour, until the top is toasty and golden and the fruit bubbling. Serve warm with ice cream.

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Cinnamon Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries

Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free, naturally Sugar FreeImage

 I was so unprepared to go back to uni this year. For starters I didn’t realise we went back a week early until the Saturday before, so I turned up to my first class with a highlighter and a notebook from last year with half the pages ripped out. I sat down in the wrong room, finally arrived to my class 20 minutes late and had to sit by myself in the front row. I’m a smooth operator what can I say. 

For another class I have a presentation that I haven’t started due next week, where I’m pretty sure I have to do a standup poetry and video performance in front of the class…lord help. 

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As a result of my study stresses I’ve been making this chocolate mousse on a weekly basis. The only thing standing between me and chocolate mousse every day for breakfast is the price of avocados! I mean come on green grocers. 2 avocados for $10 is not a laughing matter. 

The other day as I was preparing to watch an entire season of Supernatural instead of reading my TORTS cases, I struck upon chocolate mousse gold. It was so amazing I had to instagram it before I’d even eaten it! Noooo way. 

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 I had decided to take it down the Mexican chocolate road and added a pinch of cinnamon, a teeny tiny bit of ginger and the TINIEST little wisp of chilli. It was a flavour explosion in my mouth, all I’m going to say. With a sprinkling of fresh raspberries on top you can’t really get any closer to chocolate heaven. 

I promised myself this week I would try and make something without chocolate for the blog. But then I realised it’s been two whole weeks since I posted a chocolate recipe! That’s not right and it sure isn’t normal, so chocolate mousse get in my belly. Also how cute is my new rose teacup! The family I babysit for gave it to me as a present and I got way overexcited…I might have scared the children a bit. You can play with the flavourings of the mousse to suit your preferences. Even leaving out the spices all together tastes great. My favourite at the moment is just with cinnamon and almond milk, but I can imagine a little vanilla wouldn’t go astray. 

One Year Ago: Fluffy Cinnamon Apple Pancakes

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Cinnamon Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries:

2 medium avocadoes, perfectly ripe

2 medium bananas, perfectly (not overly) ripe and frozen

1/4 cup coconut or almond milk

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger, or chilli, or both

3 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp agave nectar or runny honey

Fresh berries, to top. 

Blend everything together and pour into cups. Top with fresh raspberries or other mixed berries. Chill for at least an hour before eating. 

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Healthy Chocolate Banana Fudge Cakes

Gluten Free, Vegan, and Sugar Free

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 The other day I was looking after the kids I babysit every week. The youngest boy was playing video games and singing to himself. At first I was just tuning him out and trying to read my book, and then I started listening to what he was singing.

What do you do with an annoying sister

What do you do with an annoying sister

What do you do with an annoying sister

(This is where he turned to me and locked eyes intensely)

Stick a fork up her BUM HOLE. 

Where do kids get stuff like that?!? I blame free TV! No, seriously. Kids amaze me sometimes. Their little brains just work on a completely different, fascinating level. The other day I caught myself debating with them what would happen if people’s faces got transplanted to their bums and their bums transplanted to their faces. It got ugly! I think all this babysitting is turning me into a giant kid.

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If, like me, you find yourself staring at a fruit bowl one day humming to yourself “what do you do with a million bananas, what do you do with a million bananas…” I can now tell you a decent answer. You make these little gluten free, sugar free, optionally vegan heart shaped cakes out of them. It’s just that obvious. On my birthday recently a family friend made us the most amazing flourless chocolate cake. It had raspberries scattered on top and we ate it with vanilla ice cream! Oh mercy. It was beautiful. The nicest cake I have ever had. Today with these little chocolate cakes, I wanted to do something along the chocolate and almond theme. 

But healthified. 

The recipe is the same one from Petite Kitchen that I used in these orange fudge cupcakes. Instead of orange though, I used banana! I was worried that the difference in fruits would make the recipe come out really strange and possibly lumpy…but my fears turned out to be futile. 

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As soon as a had my first peak in the oven I knew good things were happening. They smelled amazing! And the tops looked so crispy and light. I had no idea how long they’d take to cook so there was a bit of oven door opening going on, but I worked out a decent time in the end for you lovely people. But by then some of the hearts had cracked. They looked so sad! 

The cakes came out really moist but light as well. You could put in some chocolate chips to make them more chocolatey, but to be honest they tasted amazing as they were. These cakes are so rich and dark you could make them for dessert. Serve them with some serious vanilla ice cream or custard, or chocolate ice cream if you’re anything like me. They’re also great for any other time of day as well, including breakfast if you know what I’m sayin! 

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Also the REALLY exciting news! I got a new lens for my camera! It’s a 100mm 1.28L IS USM macro lens (I have no idea what I just said…) I think, and it’s the most amazing thing EVERRRR. I’m still learning how to use it. Only half the photos in this post are taken with it because I love me an overhead shot, and I’d seriously need a ladder with this thing to get the whole cake in the frame. It is so close! The detail is just amazing. 

I’ve been watching the CD instruction manual and reading up on the internet and it is actually starting to make sense. I’m so excited to start putting way more effort into each post when I get back from overseas! Making one post a week gives you so much more time to think and plan, rather than three or four posts a week which I’ve been doing recently. (I’m speaking to you from the past if that made no sense…hellooooo!! spookyyy). These little cakes may be simple, but they’re a total winner. I was so happy with how they turned out. So make them! Especially if you have some bananas lying spare.

I have to admit I used eggs instead of chia seeds here because we had a lot of eggs and no chia…but I’ve made this exact recipe with oranges and chia, and it turned out great. Denser, but great. So try what suits your needs and tell me how it goes!

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 Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Cakes: Adapted from Petite Kitchen

300g (2 cups) almond flour

35g (5 tablespoons) cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

90ml (6 tablespoons) maple syrup or agave nectar

5 tablespoons chia seeds mixed with ten tablespoons almond milk OR 5 eggs

3-4 bananas, mashed to make one cup

Optional: chopped nuts or chocolate chips

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Preheat the oven to 170C (340F) and grease ten muffin or friand moulds with coconut butter or oil. Mash your bananas well, and mix with the chia seeds and almond milk to form a smooth paste. Blend all the ingredients together thoroughly until combined. Pour until 3/4 full in to each muffin mould. 

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes, checking after 12. Makes ten to twelve chocolate cakes. Dust with cocoa powder and serve warm with ice cream for the best chocolate cake experience ever. 

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Banana Carrot Cake with Ricotta Honey Frosting

Refined Sugar Free, Wholemeal, optional Vegan

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 Carrot cake revealed my baking dark side. Years ago in the era before I became obsessed with baking, my friend and I baked a carrot cake together. It went along fine until she tried to measure a tablespoon of baking powder instead of a teaspoon, and added the entire egg (shell and all!) into the mixing bowl. It ended with me standing on a stool holding a wooden spoon, dictating the recipe to her like a military general. 

I’m not proud of these memories. But I can accept that very occasionally, under stressful situations, I can become a little “tense” in the kitchen. I like to think I’ve improved with age, but I think it’s more just that now when cooking with friends, I don’t lift a finger to help. Lest the evil carrot cake dictator should emerge and take over and the wooden spoon make a second appearance. 

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Making this carrot cake was different to that first carrot cake for lots of reasons. For starters, I made it calmly and methodically with no shouting whatsoever! And the cake itself has had a makeover too. Instead of a traditional sugar filled dessert made with lots of eggs and butter, this cake is made entirely of natural and wholesome ingredients. Sweetened with agave nectar and mashed bananas, it is dense and fruity. Just how I like my carrot cakes! It’s studded with lots of nuts and raisins and bursting with cinnamon and nutmeg. 

But the best part by far is the icing. I made a version of the yogurt icing I topped my gluten free banana chai cupcakes with, substituting half the yogurt with ricotta. The result was a super creamy and light icing that tasted almost like creme fraiche. Scented with honey and dusted with crunchy nuts, this ended up as the best layer cake I think I’ve made so far. And by far the healthiest!

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 The recipe is adapted from this yummy carrot loaf from 101 cookbooks. I’ve been using this recipe for so long I don’t even read the recipe anymore. Over the years I’ve adapted it to be vegan (unless you ice it, obviously) and to suit whatever is on hand. Today I only had two carrots, so I increased the bananas by an extra half. I also stopped putting in the olive oil ever since I made Wholesome Carrot Muffins without it, and didn’t even notice the difference until I found the cup of oil the next day. 

This cake is great for special occasions and birthdays because it looks so festive and it lasts really well in the fridge. Perfect for Christmas season if you know what I’m saying! Start the icing the day before, but if you want to make a vegan version, maybe try a cashew cream or coconut topping. I’m working on a tofu icing to put on my next birthday cake, so keep updated!

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Banana Carrot Cake with Ricotta Frosting: Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 cup mashed banana (about 3.5)

1.5 cups grated carrot (about 2)

60 ml (1/4 cup) agave nectar or runny honey

110 ml (1/2 cup) almond milk

2 tablespoons chia mixed with 4 tablespoons water to make a gel

45g (1/3 cup) raisins

45g (1/3 cup) chopped nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds, pecans) 

365g (2 cups) wholemeal flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ginger and allspice

 

Topping:

300g ricotta

300g yogurt

45ml (1/4 cup) runny honey

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Put the yogurt and ricotta in a cloth inside a sieve, and tie up the cloth in a bundle. Keep in the fridge for about 2-3 hours, to drain. 

Preheat oven to 170C (340F) and line two 20cm (8 inch) sandwich pans. Mix all the wet ingredients together well and sift in the flour and baking powder and spices. Mix well to combine. Pour into tins and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and cooked through. 

Mix the icing with the honey well while the cake is cooling. Chop up the nuts into small chunks, leaving some bigger. Place one piece of cake on a plate and spread half the icing in the middle. Spread to the edges and sprinkle on half the nuts. Place on the top layer, even side down, and spread the rest of the icing on top. Decorate with the nuts. Serves 8-10. 

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Mango and Vanilla Honey Yogurt Tart

Gluten Free, Sugar Free, optional Vegan and Raw Image

 It’s my first official week of summer holidays today! I’m planning on getting my tan awn. As soon as it stops raining. I completed my final exam in style last Saturday, arriving at the wrong venue and having to take my shoes off and sprint the half hour walk to the correct building. By the time I got there, pouring with sweat and with feet covered in road dirt, I didn’t even care what the exam was on. It was kind of a good study method actually because I think the adrenalin made me write in overdrive. In any means I finished early for the first time in my life, with absolutely no memory of what the question even asked….I’m going to take that as a good sign. 

As you can see I continue to ride on the mango train. How long will it last? As long as mango season lasts. Will it be beautiful? Yes it will. Might it get ugly? Possibly. Depending on whether my self control stops me from inhaling every mango in the house in one day. I made this mango tart on a morning that was positively miserable! It was raining, it was dark, and it did not feel like late Spring. I made it because I wanted to make something yellow and summery, and what’s better than mango and creamy yogurt in a delicious fresh tart form? Nothing!

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Hopefully the weather will clear up soon because my birthday is coming up, and I want to go to the beach to celebrate! Plus, spending the rest of summer in Europe is going to leave me so pale I’ll be named upon return the brown-haired albino. I’m so excited! I bought some thermals and a coat the other day! All I need now are socks and about forty more warm items of clothing. I figure this winter in Australia was rather balmy. Does that mean that this years European winter will be balmy? I’m hoping so! (I live in a world of delusion). 

When the weather finally does clear up, this tart is pretty perfect for taking outdoors to picnics and barbecues. It shouldn’t stay out of the fridge too long, but would be fine in a cold esky for a couple hours. It’s so creamy and fresh, and you can pretty well top it with any fruit you like. I chose mango because I love mango and it holds its shape well, but you could use berries, stone fruit, banana, anything really. I was completely inspired to make a tart like this after seeing My Darling Lemon Thyme’s Yogurt and Berry Tart the other day. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but this blog is probably in my top five favourite blogs of all time. Every post sounds so fresh and healthy, I just want to climb through the screen and eat it. And the writing is beautiful and so honest as well! It’s so inspiring. 

Image I haven’t made a full-sized tart like this in ages! Maybe not ever on this space. Mini tarts like the lavender and lemon tarts I made for a birthday picnic are great for sharing, but it’s nice to have something substantial to cut and serve around as well. The base is made out of orange-soaked sultanas and walnuts, and the orange imparts the most delicious flavour into the dried fruit. I’m so glad I tried it! The yogurt is sweetened with honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon which worked really well with the fresh mango. 

I love fresh fruit desserts in summer like these because they leave you feeling light and satisfied instead of heavy and sleepy. For a vegan version you could substitute whipped coconut cream or even cashew cream. That would also make it completely raw! The ingredients in this tart look more like a breakfast bowl than a dessert, and I definitely recommend making the switch at meal-times! It’s perfect for a simple birthday dinner, or even a mid-week treat. Try whatever combination you like best 🙂

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Mango and Vanilla Yogurt Tart: Inspired from here

1/2 cup sultanas soaked in the juice of 1 orange

1.5 cups walnuts or mixed nutes

450g yogurt, hung (instruction follows)

3 tablespoons runny honey

1 tsp cinnamon

1 fresh and ripe mango

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For the yogurt: Place the yogurt in a tea towel draped over a fine sieve. Place the sieve over a bowl and put in the refrigerator to drain for 2-3 hours, until thick. Stir in the cinnamon and honey and set aside. 

Line a 20cm tin with paper or plastic wrap, for easy removal. Soak the sultanas in orange juice for 20 minutes to half an hour before starting. Blend up the walnuts and the drained sultanas until they form a thick paste. Use your fingers to press the paste into the tin and form a tart shell. Put in the freezer until ready to assemble. 

Cut the mango in to slices and spread the yogurt over the tart shell. Arrange the mango before serving time and keep in the fridge until ready to eat. Serves 7-8 people. 

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Orange and Honey Rose Cake (gluten and sugar free)

 Gluten and Refined Sugar Free
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 This morning we woke up before the sun rose. We got dressed in the dark and for a moment I climbed back in to bed, still so warm. Together we made toast, got in the car and drove to the markets. We beat the banana truck and the shallots truck there, and while waiting for the doors to open, watched trolleys lift the bulging trays and wheel the boxes in to the stands. Inside the smell of fresh coriander and cut vegetables was overpowering, as trays of water-flecked greens were pulled out and displayed in their crates. 

We walked slowly from store to store, pulling out a few dollars at each for bundles of sweet potatoes, red tomatoes, spinach, herbs, bananas and apples. I wanted to buy a whole tray of mangoes. Already blushed and ripe, they rested next to great piles of red and purple grapes impossible not to pick at. 

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 Coming home with boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables, I wanted to make a cake that would taste as summery and light as all the fruit at the markets. The front garden has slowly filled with roses over the last few weeks and they are just beginning to drop their petals, so that when I went to grab some blossoms they showered down into my hands before I could cut their stalks. It envisaged a softly sweet, zesty cake decorated with their petals. Rose petals are good for decorating cakes, because they don’t leave a flavour or stain on the icing. They can be sugared and turned into a real edible decoration, or they can be left like they are here, purely for visual impact. 

The cake is adapted from the classic Claudia Roden orange cake, but with honey instead of sugar. It’s layered with yogurt kissed with a drop or two of rose water and topped with fresh petals. The cake itself is cool and light, despite being made entirely with almond meal. It smells gently of orange zest and the rose adds the subtlest floral flavour that is almost intangible. Rose water has a tendency to make or break a cake depending on how much you add, so if in doubt, use less instead of more. 

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 This orange cake is such a versatile recipe that turns out so differently from flour-based orange cakes. I’ve adapted it before to make chocolate orange cupcakes that turned out really good! And it worked perfectly here again with the yogurt topping. I love using yogurt as a topping because it tastes just as rich and creamy as cream cheese without any of the heaviness. I flavoured it with rose, but I’ve made it with cinnamon and vanilla before, both of which could taste nice here. 

Alternatively leave out the yogurt topping and bake the cake as one big cake in a 23cm tin. It lasts well in the fridge and stays moist for a really long time. I don’t really have anything else to say today, because I’ve had four hours sleep and besides, I’m about to go get gelato…so try the cake! And tell me any variations you try.
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IMG_6992 Orange and Honey Rose Cake: Adapted from Claudia Roden

250g (scant 3 cups) almond meal

250g (3/4 cup) honey

6 eggs, gently whisked

2 oranges

450g (1 pound) labneh, recipes follows

30ml (2 tbsp) honey

3 drops rose water (optional)

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To make the labneh, suspend the yogurt in a tied tea-towel over a sieve which is set over a bowl. Tie up the tea-towel in a bundle and put the whole set-up in the fridge for a few hours, up to 5 and at least 3. Boil the oranges in simmering water for 1-2 hours, until completely soft. Preheat the oven to 180 C (360F) and line two 20cm (8 inch) baking pans with paper. Blend the eggs, almond meal, cut up oranges, and honey until smooth. Pour into the tins and bake for 25 mins, until golden on top and cooked through. Leave to cool completely, then top with the yogurt and sandwich the layers together. Serves 8-10. 

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