Spiced Carrot, Nut and Coconut Cake

When the Beast of the East strikes and I am trapped in the house with various deadlines and two tweenaged boys, what else is there to do but bake? I’m grateful that I haven’t been stuck on a motorway for hours, that I haven’t had to cancel flights or go out to the shops or work. Schools are closed, the trains have stopped running and the heating is on as we wait for the snow and wind to pass over. One last blast of winter before spring.

I never seem to have almond meal in the cupboard, so when I went to make this recipe from Sabrina Ghayour’s Persiana book, I had to pause for thought as I rifled around the larder, looking for suitable alternatives amongst the jars of rice flour, butterscotch buttons and an oversupply of coconut flakes. This recipe is gluten free, in the sense that if you’re prepared, you’ll use the full 200g of almond meal. But for me, I had to make do with 100g of blitzed almond flakes and cashews and 100g of self-raising flour. I also didn’t really have enough pistachios in our raw nut mix, so I used a mix of cashews, walnuts and pistachios and can gladly report that everything worked out fine. This recipe is robust enough to withstand my tweaks and results in a lovely dense and coursely textured cake, not overly sweet and spiced with cinnamon; the exotic, mysterious cousin of carrot cake. The original recipe calls for rosewater cream, but I think it’s perfect as is, with a simple dusting of icing sugar and a cup of coffee.

Spiced Carrot, Nut and Coconut Cake Recipe

3 large free-range eggs
200gcaster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g ground almonds
100g desiccated coconut
2 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
150g unsalted butter, melted
2 large carrots, coarsely grated
100g shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a cake tin paper but nothing else, as the cake’s natural oils suffice.
Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract together in a mixing bowl.
Add the ground almonds, coconut and cinnamon and stir, then add the melted butter and give the ingredients a thorough mix.
Add the grated carrots and pistachios and mix again until the ingredients are evenly blended.
Pour  into your prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hour, or until it feels firm to touch and a crust forms on top.