Last month I had the opportunity to work with the uber-talented team at Choate House to film and capture the Vidya manifesto, the experience behind what I do and hope to inspire in my work. And I absolutely cannot wait to share the end product with everyone!
The shoot itself turned out to be complete and utter magic, a gathering of some of my favorite friends and inspiring creatives coming together in one space. This farm-to-table piece began at Guilford Gardens and ended at private home for an outdoor gathering of friends around the table. Plenty Mercantile styled our gorgeous dinner table shoot, and my boyfriend and I spent a long day and late night before in the kitchen prepping a three course meal paired with different seasonal juices and a decadent dessert to finish.
As you know, I am not a baker. Not in the conventional sorts, at least. I find most of my recipes end up alchemizing in the dehydrator or the freezer for some sort of raw vegan creation. But when it comes to the oven, I’ll admit I get a little of nervous of botching something…flashbacks to old films of french culinary students in tears after ruining their soufflés come to mind. However, I couldn’t deny that the evenings were getting colder and we needed a warming dessert to pair well with all the roasted roots in our meal. I had an instant flashback to a recipe from Roost Blog for this double layer zucchini-apple-carrot cake with a cashew cream frosting. I’ve always adored Caitlin Von Horn’s blog for her elegant styling and gluten-free recipes. So I put my oven fears aside and dove into this recipe.
I modified her original recipe by swapping out almond flour for gluten-free oat flour to cut back on the amount of nuts in the recipe (if you’re doing the paleo thing – you may choose to stick with the almond flour option). For more texture, I added in chopped dates and pistachios, then played around with using olive oil vs. ghee. I also swapped cashews for macadamia nuts as the base of the frosting. You know me and my cashew nemesis allergy! I added in a few superfoods, like lucuma, to give the frosting a warm caramel taste and extra cinnamon. In my book, you can never have too much cinnamon. It’s also a great way to cut back on the sugar while still sweetening a recipe.
Since the shoot, I’ve actually recreated this recipe four times now, each time playing around with different ways to make it more plant-based. I really like the versatility of this recipe, and how it pulls from the gluten-free world, the paleo world, and the raw vegan world. Even when using eggs and ghee, the cake still tastes very light and clean, and leaves you feeling just the same way. It was actually such a hit the dinner party shoot I’ve had several requests from clients and friends to make this cake for their special events, birthday celebrations and Thanksgiving treats for a gluten-free family.
As we’ve gotten deeper into fall and the seasonal foods have changed, the cake toppings have evolved each time just a bit. Last month, I was able to use fresh figs from our family garden. This most recent version boasts brightly colored pomegranate seeds and pistachios to top. I can imagine even a persimmon jam and raw honey would make for another delicious variation into winter. But as always, this cake is best made with love (and some good music in the kitchen, of course!) and enjoyed around the table with friends.
FALL HARVEST CAKE WITH MAPLE MACADAMIA FROSTING
6 cups gluten-free oat flour (or almond flour)
3 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp baking soda
½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
2 cups grated apple
2 cups grated zucchini
2 cups grated carrot
6 dates, pitted & chopped
2 tbsp vanilla
½ cup raw honey
½ cup melted ghee (*or extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil)
6 cage-free organic brown eggs (*or 1 cup golden flax meal + 2 cups water or almond milk)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In two separate bowls, mix the dry ingredients together in one and the wet ingredients in another. Pour wet mixture over the dry and mix until evenly combined. Pour half of the mix into your 9-inch springform cake pan lined with parchment. Bake for 45 minutes or until evenly cooked but still moist. Allow to cool before removing from mold. Repeat again with the remainder of the batter for the second layer of the cake. Allow both layers to cool thoroughly before spreading the frosting.
Maple Macadamia Frosting
2 cups macadamia nuts, soaked 4 hours
¾ cup fresh apple juice
½ cup maple syrup
2 dates, pitted
½ cup lucuma powder
½ tsp maca powder
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, scraped
pinch Himalayan pink salt
While the cakes are baking, make the frosting. Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Blend until creamy smooth. Transfer to a bowl and place in the fridge for 1 hour to set before frosting the cake.
To Assemble: Begin with the first layer of cake on a cake platter or serving plate. Evenly frost the cake’s top with half of the frosting. Place the second layer on top and gently smooth the remainder of the frosting atop the cake. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, chopped pistachios, and a healthy drizzle of raw honey across the top of the cake. Fresh figs also make for a lovely topping on this cake, when available in season.
Note: This batter also makes for really incredible morning muffins or rich cupcakes when you load it up with the frosting!