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  • Writer's pictureRim


The kitchen is the most creative space in most homes.

It’s like a laboratory, where we’re free to experiment with ingredients, where all senses are involved.

Whenever I feel stuck in my creative work, I spend time in the kitchen cooking, baking, playing with food. There’s nothing like it to get my creative juices flowing again.

There’s magic to the act of cooking: how we can, with a few ingredients from Nature, a few utensils, create healthy, wholesome, nutritious, flavourful dishes, that bring us satiety and joy!

Baking holds a special place in my heart, perhaps because of the alchemy of it all gives it even more a touch of magic. Perhaps because everyone in my family loved baking, from my grandfather’s magical chocolate delights, my Pastry chef grandmother, to my mum’s Sunday treats.

Baking is an ultimate communal experience, it’s meant to be shared, and make others happy!

It is celebratory, we don’t depend upon cakes to survive, so it’s a little treat that makes us feel special. It always feels a little bit indulgent, a little bit unnecessary.

“Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are only so many notes or colors there are only so many flavors – it’s how you combine them that sets you apart.”-Wolfgang Puck

I approach cooking pretty much the same way as I work with textiles: through combining textures, flavours, volumes and textures, it’s about telling stories.

Stories of who we are, of moments of joy, memories of our childhood. Stories we transmit to others, simple instants shared.

Tomorrow is Easter, and while I’m not religious, I like the idea of celebrating renewed life and the change that comes with spring. Especially this year, after what we’ve been through with the pandemic.

It’s this time of year when the first blooms are opening up, when the weather is still hesitant.

It’s a transition season, one day winter, one day summer.

In my book, it means it’s still carrot cake season !

Eggs are considered to be a seed of life and carrots are a vegetable deeply rooted into the earth. Add flowers to the top, serve with a green juice, and you’ve got the ultimate Gaia cake.

Carrot cakes are one of my earliest cake memories. I remember how as a kid, while studying with attention and delight (drooling at the pictures of yummy cakes) my mum’s cake bible, I stumbled upon a recipe for a Swiss carrot cake. It seemed like a very strange recipe : carrots in a cake ?! Vegetables in a cake ? No chocolate, no fruits, no butter? Oh la la !

However, that recipe was so good that it quickly became one of our favourites, and was given entry in the special list of our cakes of special occasions.

After all these years, carrot cakes are still a favourite. I love that it doesn’t require butter, that it involves veggies, spices and nuts, and is easily adaptable to a low gluten and dairy diet.

Instead of wheat flour, I used almond flour (easy to find in Shanghai), and instead of cream cheese frosting or whipped cream, I made a coconut cream. The trick to make whipped coconut whipped cream is to make sure your pint of coconut cream is super cold right before using it. Chill your coconut cream or coconut milk in the refrigerator the night before.

This recipe can be adapted to a larger cake pan, instead of cupcakes, the cooking time will be a bit longer.

Dairy free, gluten free carrot cupcakes with whipped coconut cream

3 cups of finely shredded carrots, about 9–10 medium carrots

1/2 cup of pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts, chopped fine

4 large eggs

3 cups blanched almond flour

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup coconut oil (liquid), or canola oil

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 can of coconut cream

1 tbsp coconut sugar

  • Preheat oven to 176 °C. Prepare cake pan: grease and flour the bottom and sides of pan.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk almond flour, baking soda, salt, and spices until well blended.

  • In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until combined.

  • Switch to a large rubber spatula. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, gently stirring until they disappear and the batter is smooth. Stir in the carrots and nuts.

  • Divide the batter into cupcake molds. Bake cupcakes 15-20 minutes. If you’re making a cake, bake cake pan around 25-30 minutes.

  • Bake until the tops of the cake layers are springy when touched and when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean

  • Let cool completely before adding coconut cream. In the meantime, chill a large mixing bowl 10 minutes before whipping.

  • Place hardened cream in your chilled mixing bowl. Beat for 30 seconds with a mixer until creamy. Then add sugar and mix until creamy and smooth – about 1 minute. Taste and adjust sweetness as needed.

  • When the cupcakes are completely cool, slather coconut cream on top.

  • Decorate with flowers for a spring note. You can find edible flowers at Avocado Lady. You can also use regular flowers, just remember to remove them before eating the cakes!

Happy baking and bon appétit!

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