Carrot, Calendula and Coconut Cake

Guest Blog by Margie Broadhead, chef and caterer to some very lucky London folk!

This cake is a real show stopper.

Photo by Margie Broadhead.

I am completely obsessed with the gorgeous flowers that Jan Billington from Maddocks Farm Organics grows. She’s unbelievably talented and is the little secret that everyone should have up their sleeve. Not that I actually keep Jan up my sleeve…that would be odd. But her flowers can transform any dish and can take your cooking from great, to the sublime. I have her on speed dial and just can’t get enough of her flowers.

Whilst me and Jan are yet to actually meet in person, we’ve spoken so often I feel like we are we are great friends! We have decided to team up and bring you some delicious recipes using her amazing edible flowers. Hopefully this will be the first of many of our collaborations.

This beautiful cake uses calendula (also known as Marigold) petals, which have been described by some as the poor man’s saffron. They have a slightly peppery, tangy taste and go so well with the flavours of a traditional carrot cake which is greatly enhanced by using spices such as cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. The calendula is a subtle taste but a great addition to the spice mix and the petals also look so beautiful scattered on the cake. This cake is then sandwiched with and slathered with whipped coconut cream and I promise you that the combination is totally dreamy!

The whipped coconut cream alone is something to get excited about and goes so well with the carrot cake. It’s a much lighter and a bit of a more exciting alternative to the traditional cream cheese icing we have all had. It also happens to be pip-squeak easy to make, and is a great dairy-free, sugar-free alternative to thick buttercream icing, so your body will thank you too.

Carrot cake is one of my favourites and I’ve made it so many times, I would like to claim the recipe as my own but I think it originated from the Hummingbird bakery. They know a thing or two about cakes. I’m experimenting at the moment with a gluten-free, refined-sugar free version of a carrot cake, but I haven’t quite perfected the recipe yet, so I will keep you posted on that one. I do like this one though, as it uses oil instead of butter, so is a little lighter on the lips..and the hips.

To make the cake you will need: 300g soft light brown sugar
3 eggs
300ml sunflower oil

300g plain flour (could easily use gluten free flour) 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon , plus extra to decorate

1⁄2 tsp ground ginger
1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄4 tsp vanilla extract
300g carrots , grated
100g shelled walnuts , chopped, plus extra, chopped 1/2 cup of calendula petals

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.

Line your cake tins with greaseproof paper and then grease the sides with coconut oil.

I used 2 x 6 inch cake tins, so that I could cut each cake into two and then have four layers to my cake…a good excuse to have some more of the coconut cream

Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until all the ingredients are well incorporated (don’t worry if the mixture looks slightly split).

Slowly add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed.

Stir in the grated carrots, walnuts and calendula petals by hand until they are all evenly dispersed.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched.

Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

When the cakes are completely cool, cut the rounded top off each cake. Then, slice in half, if using the 6 inch cake tins like I did, using a serrated knife. The

knack to this is just to be confident, take your time and just go for it!

THE SECRET TO A GREAT CAKE….it’s all in the sugar syrup. Simply mix sugar and water together and melt to dissolve the sugar. It’s so simple, you use an equal quantity of each.

For this one I used Agave Nectar and simply mixed it with equal quantity of water and then used 1/2 cup of calendula petals into it. Use a pastry brush to paint the top of each cake with the delicious sugar syrup.

I promise you, this simple trick will transform your home baked cakes.

Whipped Coconut Cream
Now, for the whipped coconut cream.
This is also incredibly simple to make and tastes so decadent!

All you have to do, is take 3 cans of coconut milk and pop them in the fridge overnight. You will probably only need to use 2 but you want an extra one incase you get one dud can that doesn’t have much cream in and is mainly liquid. When you’re in the supermarket, try shaking each can and if you can hear lots of liquid sloshing around, put it back on the shelf and try another one. By placing the cans in the fridge it will make the thick creamy coconut cream and the watery milk separate.

Before you open the cans, turn them upside down and then take the lid off. The liquidy coconut milk will now be at the top and you can pour it out into a glass to use in smoothies.

Scoop the thick creamy coconut cream into the bowl of a mixture and then whip for about 30 seconds until it looks thick, creamy and heavenly. You can add a splash of vanilla or agave to sweeten it, but for this carrot and calendula cake I don’t find you need to add anything at all.

Now, assemble your cake by slathering on the whipped coconut cream onto each layer of cake and sandwiching them together.

You can either leave it looking naked with a pile of coconut cream, calendula petals and carrot ribbons on the top like this. For this, I used a vegetable peeler to create the carrot ribbons and then I soaked them in the agave sugar syrup…completely delicious!

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Photo by Margie Broadhead.

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Or…you can smother the whole lot in the coconut cream and then sprinkle on the calendula petals and serve each slice with a little tangle of agave soaked carrot strips.

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Photo by Margie Broadhead.

Petal power at it’s absolute best!

Please note that I’ve used the whole flowers to decorate the cake with, but it is only the petals that are edible…so don’t let anyone go flower crazy and start munching on the whole flower!

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Photo by Margie Broadhead.

– See more of Margie’s wonderful recipes on her blog.