carrot, pistachio and amaranth cake

cakeI can’t tell you how excited I was when I heard Jude Blereau was releasing a cookbook dedicated to baking. I first became a fan of Jude’s when I frequented her revolutionary (for Perth) Earth Market café back in the late 90s, and her books are now go-to’s for me whenever I want some soul food inspiration.

I especially like Jude’s attitude to desserts and baking, as she recognises the important role that sweet things – made with whole, nutritious ingredients – have in our lives. Where would birthdays or celebrations be without a beautiful cake to share? Or winter nights without an apple crumble to warm us on the inside.

There is a lot of sweet crap out there that uses bleached, processed flours, refined white sugar (or worse, artificial sweeteners) and damaged oils – i.e. anything in a packet – and these should be avoided as much as possible, as they are damaging to our health. But if you’re wiling to cook for yourself and purchase quality, whole ingredients then sweet foods can be a pleasurable part of any healthy diet.

This is the first cake I’ve made from Wholefood Baking. It doesn’t rise a great deal but the combinations of flavours are heavenly, and no one will suspect that this is a gluten-free, dairy-free cake full of health.

Carrot, pistachio and amaranth cake

¾ cup rapadura sugarbeaten eggs and sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
½ cup amaranth flour
¼ tsp baking powder
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
½ tsp ground cardamom
100g lightly roasted pistachios, ground neither too fine nor too coarse*, plus an extra handful left wholemixing carrot and flour to sprinkle on top
180g finely grated carrot (about 1 large carrot)
cup (80ml) macadamia nut oil

  • preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F
  • line the base and sides of an 18cm springform cake tin with baking paper
  • beat the sugar and eggs with an electric beater until thick and creamy and tripled in volume. It will resemble meringue, in that it is glossy and aerated but I found I couldn’t get it to stand stiff like meringue does. It will take 5 or so minutes to achieve this consistencyfolding in egg mix
  • place the amaranth flour, baking powder, orange zest, cardamom and ground pistachios into a large mixing bowl, and mix well
  • add the carrot and use your fingers to very lightly mix it with the dried flour mix
  • add the oil and again use your fingers to gently distribute it
  • add half the beaten egg mix to the flour mix and very gently fold through, doing your best to make sure the carrot is evenly distributed without over-folding the egg mixture and collapsing the air
  • add the remaining egg mixture and fold through gently with a light, long sweeping movement. Pour the mix into the prepared cake tincooked cake
  • bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the cake feels firm and set in the middle and sides when you touch it
  • when cooked, turn off the oven, open the door and leave the cake sitting inside it until the cake is warm to cool, then remove from the oven and completely cool in the tin until moving to a wire rack
  • prepare the icing below and smooth it over the top. Roughly chop the extra handful of lightly roasted pistachios and sprinkle over the top of the cake.

* I found this a little hard to decipher, so I just made sure I didn’t grind the pistachios in my coffee grinder long enough to become a flour – see the photo above to see the size of the ground pistachios I made.

Orange icing

I based this icing on one my friend Lesh had made, using coconut butter instead of icing sugar, as I’m not a great fan of regular icing. Coconut butter may be a little hard to find, but a good health food store should stock it. But be careful, as coconut butter is often confused for coconut oil, so be sure of what you’re buying, as oil won’t work for this recipe.

To make your own, put 200g of organic desiccated coconut in a high-powered blender, like a vitamix or thermomix, and blend until it is thick, smooth and liquidy. Simple! Any left overs can be used as a spread, in bliss balls, in recipes calling for nut butters or stirred into porridge for some added goodness.

½ cup (125g) coconut butter
juice of 1 orange
1-2 tbsp maple syrup

  • If you’re making the butter fresh, then it will be warm enough to simply whip in the juice with a fork, stirring until well combined
  • If it’s solid, then you may want to soften it by putting the jar of butter in a bowl and pouring boiling water into the bowl. Or, put the ½ cup directly into a saucepan and heat until just softened. Then stir in the orange juice and mix well
  • Start with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and mix in well. Taste and add the second tablespoon if desired.

orange pistachio cake

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