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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Banana Cinnamon Cupcakes with Mocha Icing

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 It was my beautiful lady-friend Maevie’s birthday yesterday. You may remember her from the Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake of last year. (If you followed that link, please accept sincere apologies for the horrendous photography). Maevie and I have been friends every since year 3, when she became besties with my twin sister. I can’t believe she’s twenty! It seems only yesterday she and my sister were running around the playground playing their weird little games. While me and my friends played horses or card games, Maevie would go around pretending to eat people saying they were KFC chicken tenders. 

I once walked in on her covering my sister in duct-tape telling her she was now a prisoner. Another time I found them playing with little plastic horses and pigs pretending they were Simpson characters. This was in high school!  Such good memories ❤ Maevie, like me, loves cake a lot. So I thought the present she would appreciate most would be something of the baked and covered in chocolate variety. 

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 Maevie’s actually a very skilled photographer herself. She’s given me countless tips on why my photos often come out looking like hideous brown blobs. I didn’t want her cupcakes to consist of only shades of brown, but I didn’t really have time to do any fancy icing either. Cue rose petals! There was a big bunch of pink roses on the table and I stole a couple petals to decorate these. If I had more time I would have made sugared rose petals, or maybe designed them a little like this rose cake

I used David Lebovitz‘ banana cake with mocha frosting and halved it to make these, taking a slightly healthier route with the icing. You can use your favourite vegan chocolate icing, or if you want the original recipe, it just said to melt 140g dark chocolate with 70ml of brewed coffee, then stir in 70g unsalted butter until smooth. The smell of the coffee melting with the chocolate is amaaaaazing. If I ever meet David I swear I might cry from gratitude for all the delicious cakes and ice cream flavours he’s brought into my life. 

I’ve given vegan alternatives, most of which I have tested but I used a chickens egg so I can’t 100% assure the chia seeds will make an adequate alternative. There’s only one egg though so I’m sure it will work fine! Also my sister would like everyone to know these were “the nicest cupcakes she’s ever tasted”. 

One Year Ago: Rich Chocolate and Caramel Brownies

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Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Icing (Adapted from David Lebovitz)

150g (1 + 1/4 cup) plain flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1tsp baking powder

115g/1/2 cup butter (or 115ml/1/2 cup vegan butter or oil) at room temperature

150g (2/3 cup) white sugar (or honey/agave syrup)

1 medium egg OR 1 tbsp chia seeds blended with 3 tbsp water, at room temperature

2 medium sized super ripe bananas, mashed (about 250g or half a pound)

45g (3 tbsp) yogurt (coconut yogurt for vegan)

For the icing: 250g (half a tub) coconut yogurt mixed with 200g (7 ounces) melted dark chocolate and 2 tbsp runny agave syrup

 

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 For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and line 8 cupcake holders with liners. Mash the banana with the yogurt and set aside. Cream the butter or oil and sugar or syrup until fluffy and well combined. Set to low and slowly blend in the egg. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cinnamon and baking powder well. Stir in half the mashed bananas into the butter, then half the flour. Repeat with the remaining halves and stir just to combine. Spoon into muffin cases and bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden and fluffy. 

Top with chocolate icing of your choice, and a rose petal if you want 🙂 The recipe makes 8 small cupcakes but can easily be increased for more! Enjoy 🙂 

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Passionfruit and Coconut Pound Cake with Yogurt Icing

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 On Thursday something momentous happened. The official biggest cake failure of the year. It was epic, it was bigger than any year before it. Even worse than the time I didn’t let a chocolate cake cool and all the icing melted off. Even worse than when I used seven tins of tomatoes to make a tomato sauce and burnt the whole pot. Even worse, and this is saying something, than the time I got up super early to make crepes for my sister and ended up waking her up with my screaming and yelling and throwing burnt pancake at my dog. 

It was AWESOME. Maybe awesome isn’t the right word, but it was one of those failures that’s so terrible and so complete and utterly unfixable that it becomes kind of funny. I started out with a positive outlook, ready to make an almond and poppyseed lime cake that was gluten free and vegan too. Everything was going fine until I tried to mix in the chia seed gel. The batter was so stiff and hard they just lay on top of it like fish eggs on a bowl of clay. It was so gross…I kept pouring in more almond milk and lime juice and other random things until it became this huge speckled monster dough.

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 I baked it and ominously poured syrup over it in an attempt to make it edible, but alas. The cake was not to be. The entire thing ended up going in the bin which broke my heart because I HATE throwing out cake. And facing the prospect of making the whole cake again when the light was already failing…it just wasn’t going to happen. 

Today when I woke up and realised I was going to make a post today, I almost decided just to stay in bed all day and live in my doona for a while. It was the law cruise last night for my uni and while it was super fun, this morning was super terrible. Too. Much. Free. Champagne. In the end I just wanted something sweet and easy with a very low fail rate. This passionfruit pound cake was perfect. 

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The combination of passionfruit and coconut is so awesome. And I used vanilla sugar as well which made it taste even better, but if you don’t have any I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy some. I love making pound cakes because they’re so simple and old fashioned. They make me think I’m some olden-days hubbard stirring eggs and butter with a wooden spoon. I love how all the ingredients are so simple but you can add almost any flavour and it will still turn out amazing. 

Today was a butter-sugar-eggs cake day. Tomorrow will probably be a raw chocolate slice and banana smoothie day, but sometimes you just want a massive piece of real homemade cake. So that’s what I made 🙂 The icing is probably my favourite part. If you want a dairy-free option coconut yogurt would be the perfect substitute. 

One Year Ago: Oat and Apricot Granola Bars

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Passionfruit and Coconut Pound Cake:

1 1/2 cups white sugar

110g (1 stick) butter (room temp)

3 large eggs (room temp)

1 + 1/4 cups plain white flour

1/4 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 cup coconut milk

juice from about 8-10 passionfruit (100ml)

2 tbsp caster sugar

For the icing:

500g thick full fat plain yogurt, drained in a cheesecloth for at least an hour

3 tbsp icing sugar or honey 

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Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and line a 20cm or 8inch round cake tin with baking paper. 

Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Slowly beat in each egg, allowing each to be absorbed before adding the next. Gently fold in half the flour, then half the coconut milk, then the rest of each. Spoon into the tin and bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is golden and a skewer comes out clean. 

Strain the passionfruit juice and stir in the caster sugar. When the cake is still hot and in its tin, pour over the syrup slowly, allowing it to soak the cake. Allow to cool completely. 

Mix together the yogurt and icing sugar, then spoon over the cake and spread evenly. You can top it with the leftover passionfruit seeds if you want. Best eaten the same day but lasts well in the fridge. 

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Lemon and Berry Butter Layer Cake

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Eleven years ago, when I was little, me and my family moved suburbs. We changed primary schools to go to the local public school. I really didn’t want to go! I didn’t want to leave all my friends behind. I didn’t want to wear egg yellow shirts and crimson boy shorts, or have our school initials constantly changed to ANUS. But now I realise that move was the best we could have ever made, because it led me to my friend Maddie.

Our families became friends basically straight away, and almost all my childhood memories are interwoven with Maddie’s family. We moved to within a block of each other, bought a puppy in the same week, bought the same car, went to the same high school, went on holidays together and even went to university together. Maddie and her family don’t realise this, but I’m actually involved in an intense lifelong stalking project.

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For her birthday I made her a classic victoria sponge cake, but fruitified. The sponge is infused with lemon zest because she loves lemon. In between the layers is a strawberry and raspberry curd and sliced strawberries as well. And the whole thing is encased in whipped cream, sort of like a giant jam scone.

I know it’s not quite spring yet but it feels so close! Strawberries are super cheap at this time of year and it was actually warm enough not to wear jeans today! This cake has a feeling of spring about it. I think it’s the sugared violets that are actually three years old but I never deemed a cake worthy enough to use them.

The curd for me ended up turning out too thin, I think because I under-cooked it. Don’t worry I’ve adjusted the recipe, but lemme tell you there were some stressful moments trying to build this cake! I ended up thickening it with some icing sugar and ground chia seeds (so yes this is indeed a very healthy cake), and the flavour wasn’t affected. If you like a super sweet cake you might want to add some extra sugar to the curd anyway, depending on how tart your berries are. 

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In other news, the very kind Jessica from Daily Gluttony nominated Sugar and Cinnamon for the Versatile Bloggers Award! I was really excited because I think Jessica’s blog is great, and love reading her recipes and stories. I’m meant to tell everybody seven things about me but my posts are usually full of things about me so I’ll just tell you one little weird thing: I love peanut butter and banana slices on toast. 

I’m not really sure how to nominate my own favourite blogs, but here are some great new blogs that I have read this week, that I think are worthy of a mention: 

Sugary and ButterySinfully SpicyMunchin’ Mel, Tide and Thyme, Half Baked Harvest, Peeps From Abroad, The Baker Chick, Recipes From a Pantry, 350 Sweets, and Cesca

For a longer list of my long-time favourite blogs, check out my library page. Now for the recipe! Feel free to adjust the types of berries you use, and as I said judge the sweetness you think you’ll prefer. You’ll need to start this recipe the day before.  

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Lemon and Berry Butter Cake:
Berry Curd: Adapted from What She’s Having

700g (4 + 1/2 cups) mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, but not blackberries, mulberries or anything too sour)

170g (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) caster sugar

60ml (4 tbsp) lemon juice

60g (4 tbsp) butter

6 large egg yolks

Cut up all the berries and toss with the lemon juice and sugar. Leave to macerate at least 45 minutes. Blend together and strain into a bowl. It might take some time! Use a spoon to push out the chunks. Pour into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs. Pour a ladle of the berry puree in to the eggs to warm them, then return it all to the pan. Add the chopped butter and stir constantly over a medium-low heat until thickened. Strain into a jug and place plastic wrap directly on the surface to stop a skin forming, refrigerate overnight. If the mixture curdles slightly, either strain out the lumps or blend for a few moments to bring it back together. 

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For the sponge: Adapted from Cook wWith Jamie

225 (1 cup) grams butter, softened

225g (1 2/3 cups) self-raising flour, sifted

225g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) caster sugar

4 large eggs

zest of 1-2 lemons

Either: Make two sponges with this recipe and use a knife to cut them in half once cool, or split the recipe in half and make four sponges, washing your two 20cm pans in between. I find it easier to bake the layers separately but it’s up to you. 

Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line 2 or 4 20cm sandwich pans. Cream your soft butter and sugar together until pale. Slowly add each egg, beating well in between additions until smooth and creamy. Sift over the flour and use a spatula to fold it in. Split the mix into two and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Leave to cool, then take out of the pan.

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600ml (2 + 2/3 cups) whipping cream
75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
250g (1.5 cups) strawberries

Beat the cream in a cold bowl on high until just starting to thicken. Decrease the speed to medium and slowly pour in the sugar. Beat until just thick enough for soft peaks to form.

Assembly:
Cut any domes off the four cake layers. Place one layer on a large plate. Spoon over a thick layer of curd and spread it to one or two centimetres from the edge. Top with sliced strawberries. Repeat with the next two layers. Top with the final layer. To ice, use a large offset spatula to gently spread the cream in waves around the cake. Decorate either with more berries, or sugared violets.
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Banana Spice Cupcakes with Chai Yogurt Cream (gluten and sugar free)

 Gluten, Refined Sugar, and Optional Dairy Free

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I really want to like chai! I don’t drink coffee and this makes it slightly awkward every time someone suggests we get coffee. I feel like saying “well, ok. But I’m probably not going to get a coffee. Or pay 3.50 for a tea bag. So lets just go get ice cream instead?” But that just doesn’t fly in the real world. Chai would be the perfect solution to this! You drink your skim cap, I drink my chai latte. Everyone is happy and we are all being trendy and maybe we should make it soy. 

But when I was little I poured a huge mug of it down my shirt and had to rip it off on a busy street in India. Now the smell of it reminds me of burning skin, green polo shirts and blushing humiliation. There isn’t a particular element that I don’t like. It’s not the cinnamon, ginger, or milk, it’s the actual combination together. It just makes my skin crawl. 

Last week I was at an ice cream shop with friends and one of them ordered a scoop of chai gelato. I had the tiniest bite to see what it was like, and a strange thing happened. It wasn’t that bad. I wouldn’t have eaten the whole scoop but the coldness of the ice cream meant it was different enough from the drink that my brain didn’t go into its usual panic mode of chai? CHAI! RUN!. 

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 I thought maybe if the elements were taken far enough from the original I could actually like it. Thinking about it, each part of chai is actually really awesome. Spices like cinnamon, ginger, I use them all the time in so many things. And steamy and warm too? Yes please. 

So these chai cupcakes were born. The cupcakes themselves are gently spiced banana cupcakes that are gluten and refined sugar free, but so moist and flavoursome! The texture is so soft it’s almost like a steamed pudding, and you get the slightest hint of coconut from the flour. For those that are dairy free these cupcakes are good enough on their own without the icing, especially warmed up for breakfast. 

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But the yogurt cream! Oh my goodness. I’ve been thinking about something like this for ages and finally got around to trying it. Strained yogurt, called labneh, looks like ricotta cheese and tastes like cream cheese, but it’s way better for you. As well as this it is full of probiotics and often the level of lactose is low enough for intolerant people to enjoy as well. Here the labneh is flavoured with honey and chai spices to top the cupcakes. It is so delicious. You could eat it over fruit, as a cream on a sponge, on its own with berries, nuts, granola, anything! It’s rich and smooth and creamy and perfect. The longer you drain it the thicker it will be, but I wouldn’t go much longer than eight hours or it will get very strong in flavour. 

Once iced, it’s best to keep these cupcakes in the fridge because of the yogurt topping. However the texture of the base won’t suffer! They taste great cold too. 

If you want to try some more gluten free or healthy muffins, here are some I’ve been reading recently and getting inspiration from:

Pumpkin Coconut Muffins

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cashew Cream

Oatmeal Muffins

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Banana Cupcakes with Yogurt Cream: Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories 

70g (heaping 1/3 cup) almond flour

65g (1/2 cup) coconut flour

60g (1/2 cup) buckwheat flour

1 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp baking soda

1.5 tsp cinnamon

1 pinch each ginger, cloves and nutmeg ground

180g (3/4 cup) mashed banana (about 2 to 3 bananas)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil

100ml (1/3 cup) honey or maple syrup

250ml (1 cup) soy, almond or coconut milk

Preheat oven to 180C. Line 12 muffin tins with cases. Sift together the dry ingredients and spices in a bowl. Separately, mix together the wet ingredients in a large bowl. Sift over the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until crunchy on the outside and risen. 

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For the icing:

450g (1.5 cups) natural greek yogurt (reduced fat ok)

80ml (1/4 cup) runny honey

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp each nutmeg, ginger, cloves, star anise ground

optional: pinch of ground black pepper, 2 tsp raw sugar for sprinkling

In a medium sized strainer, place a clean tea towel or cheese cloth and spoon in the yogurt. Tie the tea towel around the yogurt in a bundle with a plastic rubber band. Place in the fridge over a deep bowl and drain for at least six hours, until thick. 

Mix in the other ingredients and chill until ready to use. Ice over the cupcakes evenly and either eat straight away or put back in the fridge. Sprinkle with the sugar just before serving. 

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Apple, Cinnamon and Olive Oil Cupcakes with Honey Icing

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Cupcakes can be one of life’s biggest disappointments.

Sure they look amazing, so you figure they’ll taste even better. But the icing is too sweet and buttery, and the cake is a sad and flat little blob of devastation. Flavourless. Dry. Worthless. 

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These cupcakes are not like those evil party cupcakes. Cupcakes are pretty, and easy to share, so in theory they make so much sense. I wanted to use apples because they have just come in season and they’re so crunchy! I’ve never used a piping bag before which you can probably tell, it was so fun though!

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The hefty chunks of apple bake into soft little pockets of sweetness and the cinnamon smells so good! The olive oil makes the cakes delicate and really flavoursome. But the best part by far is the icing! It is a cream cheese icing made one thousand times better with the addition of honey and brown sugar. It brings these cupcakes to a whole new level. The recipe is adapted from Ottolenghi, which is just about the most useful cookbook ever. I’ve seriously made almost everything in it. 

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 Apple Cupcakes with Honey Icing: Adapted from this book

3 apples, peeled and chopped into 1cm pieces

120ml (1/2 cup, 4.1 ounces) olive oil

160g (5 oz, 2/3 cup) caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1.5 tsp baking powder

280g (2 cups + 3 tbsp) plain flour

2 eggs + 2 egg whites, kept separately

Icing:

250g (1/2 pound, 9 ounces) cream cheese

90ml (6 tbsp, 3 ounces) honey

100g (4 ounces, 1 stick) softened butter
100g (1/2 cup, 4 ounces) brown sugar

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 Method:

Preheat the oven to 170C (340F) and prepare 12 cupcake tins.

For the cupcakes: Beat together the vanilla, sugar and oil until smooth. Slowly add in the two whole eggs and beat until combined. Fold through the apple, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Sift in the baking powder and flour and stir to combine. Separately, beat the egg whites until tripled in size and fold gently through. If your batter is still very dry, try adding a pour of milk at this stage.

For the icing: Beat together the butter, sugar and honey until smooth. Add the cream cheese in chunks and beat until completely smooth and fluffy. Spread over the cupcakes once they are cool. 

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