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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Chocolate Bliss Balls two ways (vegan and raw)

Vegan, Raw, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

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 It’s been one of those post-exam weeks where I have literally achieved nothing with my time. I spent the first day sitting in front of the heater eating sultanas and staring at the floor. I spent the second day sleeping and playing with my dogs ears. The rest of the week has gone much the same way. It has been awesome. 

I had grand plans to share a new zucchini noodle recipe with roast tomato sauce, but alas I ate all the zucchinis. I also ate all the tomatoes, and the avocado as well. I’m sorry! I have a good feeling that next week will be zucchini noodle week. So instead this week turned into bliss ball week because you can never have enough recipes for these protein balls, and also cafe’s these days are selling them for like, $3 a ball. That’s not cool guys. You could make twelve balls for that amount of money! (And it would taste better. Sshh). 

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 Something exciting did actually happen this week. I got a tattoo! It’s a little sun on my left shoulder drawn by my friend Lilli, who designed the title here and is an amazing artist as well. I’d wanted to get a little sun tattoo for a year at least and when my friend said she would get one too, I thought yolo! It’s tattoo time! 

It didn’t really hit me that I’d got it until a few days later, but I’m very happy with it. The sun as a symbol means a lot to me and now every time I look over my shoulder, there it is sitting there. A little ray of sunshine. There’s a picture of it on instagram if you want to see, although I have to warn you I am a little bit nakey in that photo. (Please don’t report me!)

Ok, bliss ball time. Also, I promise I will quit with the dark lighting after this post! I’m going through backgrounds in colour phases to learn about my camera settings, which is why things are looking strange and repetitive lately ❤ Have a great week! 

One Year Ago: Apple, Quince and Walnut Crumble Pie

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 Basic Bliss Ball Recipe:

1 cup dried fruit: either dates, apricots, sultanas or a mix

1.5 cups nuts: walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews or a mix 

Coconut and Vanilla:

Soak 1 cup sultanas in water for half an hour. Bash up 1.5 cups walnuts in a mortar and pestle. Add 3 tbsp desiccated coconut, and the seeds from half a vanilla bean. Blend everything together. Roll the balls in more coconut and store in the fridge. 

Chocolate and Cinnamon:

Soak 1 cup apricots in mandarin or orange juice for half an hour, and chop finely. Bash up your nuts in a mortar and pestle. Blend with the drained fruit, 1 tsp cinnamon and 4 tbsp raw cacao powder. 

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Black Tea and Currant Hot Cross Buns

Wholemeal, Low Fat

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 Is it just me or is Easter kind of the coolest holiday ever?!? You’ve got chocolate by the bucket load, all kinds of exciting buns and spiced cakes in bakeries, holidays galore, it’s wild! 

And don’t even get me started on the Easter Show. I don’t know if it’s just Sydney, but every year here there’s a huge fair with a theme park, food markets, baking competitions, wood chopping and largest animal competitions, which are all somehow very connected to the concept of Easter…

I think it’s super fun but all my friends and family think it’s lame (they’re lame!!) so I haven’t gone in years. Sad face 😦 But this year I might just go with the kids I babysit so woohoo get ready for the biggest chicken weighing competition!!! I know I am.

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My family isn’t actually that into Easter. I never even knew about the whole ‘Easter Sunday Lunch’ thing until I went away one year with my friends family. It was amazing! We ate all the traditional meals like pies and lamb roast and simple fish the night before (well I didn’t because I don’t eat meat but I creepily watched them eating it). And on the celebrated morning, we came down to the dining table which had been completely covered in decorative chocolate nests with Belle Fleur chocolate sculptures for each child. Oh my God. I was in heaven.

We set up an Easter Egg hunt for the little kids, hiding the colourful chocolates in tree branches and under piles of autumn leaves. We boiled eggs and decorated them with paint and glitter, then cracked them open and drizzled olive oil and vinegar in the yolks. We walked through the forest and drove in her older brother’s rally car around the paddock behind the house, then watched the sun set over the trees eating chocolate leftovers.

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After that year I realised how good Easter can be. I decided to start making hot cross buns as my own family tradition, even if the first try was a couple of weeks late. Now the heady smell of cloves and cinnamon, and the calming roll of dough and currants is familiar to me. It makes me think of Easter. It makes me think of hot Autumn rain showers and uni holidays, of early sunsets and browning leaves.

It makes me think of the Easter Show, with the turkey pavilion and the poodle parade and hot curly fries with tomato sauce and mustard. It makes me realise that Easter is a pretty great holiday, whether you celebrate it traditionally or not.

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These hot cross buns are the best I’ve made so far. They’re classic of this blog made with wholemeal flour and a good dose of cinnamon, but still rich and soft from butter and lots of dried fruit. I steeped the currants in tea for half an hour before adding them in, and it made the buns taste lovely and complex. You can always skip this step if you don’t like tea, or use a different flavour if you’re feeling adventurous.

I originally got the recipe from Poires au Chocolat, because she is my bible for all English/traditional buns and cake recipes and I trust her yeast expertise with my life! Also, you may have noticed I forgot the crosses. I know, I know! I’m sorry!

For a vegan version, I’m planning on adapting these Coconut Scones, swapping the vanilla for cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves and adding in sultanas for that traditional flavour. If you want to give it a try before me, please tell me how it goes!! I hope all of you have a happy Easter 🙂

One Year Ago: Apple and Cinnamon Cupcakes with Honey Icing

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Black Tea and Currant Hot Cross Buns: Adapted/Copied from Poires au Chocolat
50g unsalted butter
225g whole milk (I used light and it worked fine)
300g strong white flour
150g wholemeal flour
7/8g instant yeast
50g caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each nutmeg, ginger, cloves
1 egg, cracked and lightly beaten
110g (1 cup) each sultanas and black currants
1 cup of strong black tea

Method: In a saucepan, heat the butter and milk until the butter melts and the milk scalds (this will keep the buns extra soft). Place in the fridge or freezer to cool down, it needs to be room temperature otherwise it will kill the yeast!
Steep the dried fruit with the tea until the fruit is soft, then drain and dry the fruit well with paper cloth.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the flours, spices, sugar and dried fruit. Mix in the egg and milk (it has to be room temperature or slightly lower!!) until combined. Mix on medium for 6-7 minutes until the dough is elastic and bouncy. Put into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave for an hour to an hour and a half until doubled in size (I take a photo of it with my phone so I can work this out).

Pour out onto a floured surface and punch down. Cut into 14 pieces and roll into balls. Working quickly, place the balls on a lined baking tray and cover with plastic wrap for 45 minutes until puffy. Preheat oven to 200C (390F) and bake the buns (take off the plastic!) for 15-20 minutes, until risen and golden. Drizzle a little honey or marmalade over for a glaze. Enjoy! For a cross, mix flour and water and use the back of a spoon or piping bag to mark a cross on before you bake them. Enjoy!

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Dark chocolate, sultana and oat cookies

Sugar Free

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I have this problem with reading recipes. Each time I start with the best intentions, ready to measure our my ingredients in little bowls and carefully weigh my flours and butter right to the gram. 

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Every single time, at some point in the process of gathering ingredients and putting them in some sort of order, I go some sort of crazy and start adding whatever I fancy. Yesterday I decided that no matter what, I would follow a recipe from start to finish slowly, and methodically. 

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It seemed a good start to pick a recipe I had all the ingredients for, and these oat cookies from the blog Pastry Affair looked so easy and yummy. As I was very smugly pulling my perfectly followed cookies out of the oven I noticed that the sultanas had somehow been replaced with half dried cherries and half dried apricots. The chocolate chips were mysteriously large chocolate chunks, and there were twice as many as I remember the recipe needed…

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The point is I tried this time! I had a real hard time mixing the oats and extras into the creamed butter and vanilla. If you are a dainty and meticulous baker, I’m sorry you have to read this, but I used my hands to meld everything together. Guilty! But they tasted amazing anyway (I ate the biggest one whilst writing this) And with no added sugar, I felt quite nutritious at the same time. 

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Chocolate, Sultana and Oat Cookies: Adapted from Pastry Affair

2 cups each rolled oats, chocolate chunks, sultanas

210 grams (1 cup) plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

225 grams (2 sticks, 8 ounces, 1/2 pound) salted butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 160C (320F). Cream the butter and vanilla until soft. Add each egg and mix until combined. Stir in the oats, fruit and chocolate and shape into large balls, either with a measuring cup or by hand. Bake for 12-17 minutes until golden on top. Allow to cool completely before moving or eating.

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