The perfect vegan treat with a very speical ingredient - watercress! Bursting with vitamins and minerals, this peppery little leaf is one of our natural superfoods – and tastes great too! In this recipe, the classic smooth cream cheese filling of carrot cake is given a kick with the addition of watercress. It complements the sweetness of the carrot cake and nutty texture of the nuts – as well as adds to your 5-a-day!
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CARROT CAKE WITH WATERCRESS AND CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Serves 8, Preparation time 30 minutes, Cooking time 40 minutes, Vegan / Gluten-free
For the cake
• 80ml/3 1/2fl oz rapeseed oil, plus a little extra for greasing
• 3 tsp baking soda
• 3 tbsp white vinegar
• 235g apple sauce (preferably unsweetened)
• 200ml non-dairy milk (we used soy milk)
• 100g dark brown soft sugar
• 50g caster sugar
• 4 tbsp golden syrup
• 160g grated carrot
• A pinch of salt
• 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
• 170g ground almonds
• 150g gluten free flour (we used Dove’s)
• 30g chopped walnuts
• 30g raisins
For the icing
• 1 tub vegan cream cheese
• 100g/4oz vegan butter (we used a hard block which is better for this than a spreadable tub), softened
• 500g/1lb 20z icing sugar, sieved
• 30g/1 1/4oz watercress, finely chopped
To decorate (optional)
• Edible flowers such as violas and primulas
• Few sprigs of watercress
• A handful of chopped nuts
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Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas 4 and prepare 3 x 15cm/6in loose-based cake tins by brushing the insides with a little rapeseed oil and placing a circle of greaseproof paper in the bottom of each tin.
In a large bowl, whisk together the baking soda and vinegar, then add in the 80ml/3 1/2fl oz rapeseed oil, apple sauce, milk, sugars and golden syrup. Mix together and then add in the grated carrot and stir thoroughly.
In a separate bowl, sieve together the salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ground almonds and flour. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet, ensuring they are fully incorporated, then add in the chopped walnuts and raisins and stir through.
Divide the mix equally between the prepared cake tins, transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes before inserting a skewer or knife into the centre of each cake. If the skewer comes out clean then the cakes are baked, otherwise return to the oven and check again after 5 more minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before removing carefully from cake tins. Once removed allow the cakes to cool completely, peel away and discard the greaseproof paper before icing.
To make the icing, take the cream cheese out of the fridge one hour before using so that it is slightly softer and ensure your vegan butter is soft too. Use an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment to beat the butter until smooth. Then add in the cream cheese and beat on a low speed until fully combined. You may need to stop the machine and scrape down the sides with a spatula before beating again to ensure everything is fully mixed. Be careful not to beat on too high a speed as the mixture may split. Add in the icing sugar then beat on a medium speed until combined fully before stirring through the chopped watercress.
Once your cakes are cooled completely, use the icing to cover each layer before stacking, finishing with a thick layer of icing on top. Add fresh edible flowers and/or a few watercress sprigs and scatter over the chopped nuts to decorate.
This recipe is from the Watercress Company. For more recipe inspiration visit thewatercresscompany.com or watercress.co.uk.