Gluten Free Rum Raisin Carrot Cake

I recently discovered I am married to my job, Ive been doing crazy hours and I have actively started getting into my office for 6:20 each morning. Sometimes you have a realisation and realise its not for fun or giggles and that if I want to be married, it shouldn’t be to the corporate world.  However, this also means that my time is taken up working and not blogging, although I still make time to bake for work each week.

Someone recently asked me why I dont take ‘pretty pictures’ of the food that I make, I laughed. I replied,’ for the same reason that I dont take pretty selfies, I know Im pretty and more importantly I know that my food tastes amazing.’ Theres nothing worse than seeing pretty food and tasting it and it having no flavour or substance. So you get less than pretty pictures and tutorials of food that is tried, tested and tasted and approved not only by me but also by my colleagues who are my guinea pigs or as they tell me in Dutch ‘proefkonijns’, which literally translate into ‘experiment bunnies’. This is what I love about the Dutch language, it doesn’t translate literally very well.

One of my favourite spirits in Rum, we are really good friends (probably too good) and what I like about Rum most is that it doesn’t give me hangovers (for the win!). When I came across this recipe, I knew I wanted to try it and improve it.  There is no rum taste in the cake, as its all cooked out, which actually felt like a let down and honestly I think Id make it alcohol free next time (and just drink the rum instead) and substitute orange juice instead for a more citrus taste.

Gluten Free Rum Raisin Carrot Cake

Makes: 16-20 portions   Prep time: 20-30 mins Bake time: 30-60 mins Total time: 90 mins

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 (200-250g) medium carrots
  • 1/3C (75g) raisins
  • 1/4 C (60ml) rum (or use orange juice)
  • 3/4C (150g) caster sugar
  • 1/2C (125ml) regular olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 C (250g) ground almonds
  • 2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg, or to taste
  • ½ lemon, finely grated zest and juice (optional – I left it out, mostly because I didnt have a lemon on hand)

Now to make this yummy gluten free cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line the base of a 9in round springform cake tin with re-usable non-stick silicone liner or baking parchment and grease the sides with olive oil. I used a silicone pan and made my own life easier 🙂

2. Toast the pine nuts by browning them in a dry frying pan, watch them to ensure that they do not burn. This will take approximately 3-5 minutes. Set aside. (clearly I did a lot more than the 3 tbsps as I was roasting for multiple recipes)

3. Grate the carrots with a coarse grater (sadly my processor is broken but if you have one, use it), then sit them on a double layer of kitchen paper and wrap them kind of wringing them out to soak up excess liquid. Set aside.

4. Place the raisins in a small saucepan with the rum, bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for 3 minutes.

5. Whisk the sugar and oil until creamily and airily mixed. Add in the vanilla extract and eggs, whisking well, fold in the ground almonds, nutmeg, grated carrots, raisins (with any rum that clings to them) and the lemon zest and juice (which I left out).

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and smooth the surface. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over the cake (I also threw on some chopped pecans because I had them and well, why not?) and bake it for 30–40 minutes, or until the top is risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out sticky but more or less clean.

7. Turn out on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Cut into slices, store in a air tight container and ideally should be consumed within three (3) days.

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I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with this cake. Normally almond meal can be a bit grainy in texture but it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. My colleagues really enjoyed it, even though it didnt taste of rum.

Remember to share with friends (or colleagues) and enjoy! 🙂

My Dutch Italian Pear Cake

The garden has a pear tree in it, which I seem to curse more than anything else. Imagine walking along and having a rotting pear fall on your head or every time you open the door to go out, you having to shove many fallen pears out of the way, first world problems I know but still VERY annoying. As you can see, it is a large tree offering LOTS of fruit.20170907_082918

I started my search for recipes using pears, pears, pears and more pears and came across this Italian cake recipe, which sounded fantastic and I thought Id give it a go. Whilst it’s a Italian cake (because of the mascarpone), I’m calling it a Dutch Italian cake, as Im using Dutch pears.20170907_083117.jpg

Dutch Italian Cake

Makes: 1 large cake – serves 8-12   Prep time: 30 mins  Cook time: 45-60 mins  Total time: 1 hour 15-30 mins

Required Ingredients:

  •  (192g) cups flour
  • 1/4 cup + 11/2 tablespoons (40g) cornstarch/cornflour
  • ½ cup (60g) ground almonds
  • 1/4  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar 
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup (250g) mascarpone cheese
  • 2½ tablespoons sunflower/vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pears
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • extra cinnamon a sugar to top your cake with

Now how to make this amazing cake:

Pre-heat oven to 340° (170° celsius). Lightly grease and flour a 9″ (23 centimeter) cake pan ( I used a spring-form pan), or use a liner like I did.

1. Peel and core the pears, chop one pear into medium-sized cubes and slice the other pear in thin slices length wise, set aside.20170907_083849.jpg

2. Beat the eggs and sugar together until light and creamy.  You can use a mixer at medium speed or your arm (I opted for this version to work on my bingo wings). I also whisked my eggs first before adding in the eggs, this doesn’t make a difference but give me peace of mind, not sure why…20170907_084150

3. Add mascarpone to the egg and sugar mixture and continue beating until smooth.20170907_084316.jpg

4. To the egg, sugar, cheese mixture, add in your dry ingredients. Stir in with a wooden spoon the flour, salt, corn starch, ground almonds, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda into the creamed mixture, stir gently to just combine. Do not over mix.20170907_085116.jpg

5. Add the oil to the batter and stir to just combine. 20170907_085308.jpg

6. At this point, I scape down all the sides, for the final mix through.  Fold in the medium-sized cubed pear pieces until just combined.20170907_085340

7. Spoon the cake batter into prepared cake pan.20170907_085855.jpg

8. Top your batter with the sliced pears (I had 3 left over), this can be done in any design but I decided to make mine ‘pretty’. 20170907_090039

I then sprinkled with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon before putting in the oven.20170907_090111.jpg

9. Bake approximately 45 – 60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!20170907_095430

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I had a friend coming over on the day and I was nervous about this recipe because I’d never made it before and she had never had my baking, but this was hit! I even sent her off to work with all the spare cake to feed to her colleagues at the Theatre she works at, they also really enjoyed it and are looking forward to my next baking adventure!

Remember to share with friends and enjoy!

Notes: I did actually add in almond extract, as I thought it would enhance the cake, please do NOT do this. It just make the cake taste of almond, which completely took away from the pears. Luckily Im in the Netherlands where almond is a beloved taste, so it wasn’t an issue as such but honestly, it did let down the cake.