Growing up in Azerbaijan (a former Soviet Republic) New Year’s Eve was the most special night of the year. Presents from Ded Moroz (Father Frost) were always bags filled with chocolate and tangerines and we also got some felt-tip pens with a colouring book. I would wait for Ded Moroz all night long but towards the morning I’d always end up falling asleep and somehow he always managed to sneak in our balcony without me noticing and leave little parcels for me and my sister. Looking back, I think those were the most magical moments of my childhood. My Mom would cook up a feast and there was always something sweet on the table. I don’t live with my parents anymore, but I continue the tradition and this year I will be making the classic Russian salad. For dessert I chose this simple and easy to make carrot cake. It is very light, the only drawback is that you will want to have more than one piece! The rice flour and tapioca starch combine really well to make a soft spongy base and the sour cream and date paste make for a heavenly light cream. The cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla and lemon peel add the final magical festive touch.
(makes one small cake – 6 portions)
For the batter:
– 1 cup of brown rice flour
– 2/3 cups of tapioca starch
– 2/3 cups of brown sugar
– 1 tsp baking soda
– pinch of salt
– 1/2 tsp of cardamom
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– peel of 1 lemon
– 2 eggs
– 100 ml of sunflower or rapeseed oil
– 1/4 cup of warm water
– 1/4 cup walnuts
– 1 large carrot, grated
For the cream:
– 150 ml of full fat sour cream (I used 15% fat)
– date paste (8 pitted dates blended with 2 tbsp of water)
– pinch of ground cinnamon
– pinch of ground cardamom
– a few drops of vanilla extract
– peel of one lemon
– a small handful of toasted walnuts
– lemon peel
– Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius/ 390 degrees Fahrenheit.
– Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Give it a whisk to make sure everything is combined.
– In a smaller bowl, add in two eggs and beat with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.
– Combine the egg mixture with the warm water and the oil and pour in to your dry mixture. Whisk by hand or beat with a mixer until all is well combined and the batter is smooth. Add in the grated carrot.
– Grease a cake tin (I used an 18 cm/7 inch cake tin) and line it with parchment paper.
– Divide the batter into two parts and pour the first half into the cake tin.
– Bake the cake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Repeat with the other half of the batter.
– Let the cake cool on a wire rack and it’s time to get our hands on the cream.
– In a medium bowl combine the sour cream, the date paste (which is basically just dates blended with a bit of water), lemon peel, vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon. Beat it with a whisk. The consistency of the final cream should be thick enough to let you spread it onto the cake without being too runny.
– When the two layers of the cake are completely cooled, spread the cream onto both layers. Decorate the top layer with toasted walnuts and lemon peel. Voila! Your cake is now almost ready and all you have to do is wait a few hours or better yet overnight.