When I first cracked open a copy of My Paleo Patisserie . . .
I wasn’t sure if it was a cookbook, an art book, or a coffee table book. Turns out, it’s something else entirely.
My Paleo Patisserie is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Written by my real-life friend Jenni Hulet of The Urban Poser, this is not your standard recipe guide. Jenni goes to extreme lengths to simplify the process of pastry creation so that – if you want to – you can develop your own signature recipes.
There are mix-and-match options so you can pair a chocolate eclair with pistachio pastry cream and a chocolate fondant glaze, or you can nix the pistachio and go with a praline cream. What kind of glaze? Maybe raspberry, espresso or maple. You decide.
Now, I’m going to be straight with you. I love Jenni – and not just because she use to stop by my house with a plate of homemade marshmallows every now and then – but I didn’t think this book was for me. I am not a food artisan. I am a mom who yells “WHOOP!” every time I discover a real-food recipe that can be made in under five minutes.
But you know what? I was wrong – this book is for everyone. If you married a Paleo Pastries for Dummies with a five star chef’s cookbook, you’d have My Paleo Patisserie. And more importantly, you’d have eclairs and tiramisu.
Yes, it takes more than five minutes. (Usually a lot more.) And yes, it’s a special occasion thing. But you know what? It’s so much better than baking a cake which your friends politely remark “must be healthy.” That’s crunchy mama code for “Your food tastes like a yoga mat,” by the way.
[Totally random fact: Jenni was a yoga instructor before health challenges nudged (or shoved) her toward a paleo-style diet, so she may or may not be informed on the flavor of yoga mats.]
Today I’m so excited to share Jenni’s recipe for decadent maple carrot cake. It’s one of my favorite cakes of all time that I didn’t know I needed until I tried a piece (or three).
Maple Carrot Cake (Paleo, Gluten-Free)
For this recipe you will need three 6-inch (15-cm) round cake pans, as the recipe is written for that amount of batter. However, this amount of batter will also make one 9-inch (24-cm) round cake for a nice single-layer cake if desired.
For the cake:
- 1/4 cup (45 g) palm shortening or ghee
- 4 large eggs
- 1 large egg white
- 1 cup (200 g) firmly packed maple sugar (where to buy maple sugar)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 3 cups (350 g) almond flour (where to buy almond flour)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (where to buy organic cinnamon)
- 3/4 teaspoon ginger powder (where to buy organic ginger powder)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (where to buy organic nutmeg)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (where to buy baking soda)
- 1/2 cup (40 g) unsweetened shredded coconut (where to buy shredded coconut)
- 1/3 cup (50 g) raisins (where to buy organic raisins)
- 1/3 cup (60 g) chopped pineapple
- 1/3 cup (40 g) chopped pecans (where to buy pecans)
- 3 medium carrots (260 g), grated
- 3 cups (170 g) coconut flakes, for garnish (where to buy organic coconut flakes)
For the buttercream:
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Grease and line the cake pans with parchment paper circles cut to fit the pans.
- Melt the shortening in a small saucepan over low heat, then set aside to cool. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs, egg white, sugar, and lemon juice on medium-high speed for 15 minutes. The mixture should become thick and voluminous. Always beat it for the whole 15 minutes, though.
- While the egg mixture is beating, whisk together the flour, spices, and baking soda in a large bowl till blended. Add the shredded coconut, raisins, pineapple, pecans, carrots, and melted shortening, then toss to combine.
- When the egg mixture is ready, gently fold it into the flour mixture till completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or till the tops spring back when gently pressed. (Bake for 35 to 40 minutes if using a 9-inch/24-cm round cake pan.)
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. Loosen the edge of each cake with a sharp knife, then turn the cakes out onto a wire rack and let cool completely before assembling.
- Once the cakes are have cooled, prepare the buttercream. Combine the egg whites, maple syrup, and cream of tartar in a large heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a small or medium-sized saucepan with 2 inches (5 cm) of simmering water in it. It is important that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Heat the mixture till it reaches 160°F (71°C) on a candy thermometer, whisking constantly so the eggs don’t curdle or seize.
- Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or use a metal bowl and a hand mixer. Start whipping on low speed, gradually increasing to high over the course of 30 seconds. Continue to beat the mixture on high speed till stiff and completely cool. This could take up to 8 to 10 minutes, or longer if using a hand mixer.
- When the meringue is ready, switch to the paddle attachment on the stand mixer. Add the shortening bit by bit, beating on medium-high speed till thick and smooth. Beat in the vanilla.
- If the buttercream becomes loose and liquid, your meringue may not have been sufficiently cool when you added the shortening. Chill the mixture slightly in the fridge, then resume beating. It will emulsify eventually. If it curdles, the shortening may have been too cold. No worries! Don’t fret or throw it out; just keep beating! Beating the mixture fixes pretty much everything.
- To assemble the cake: Place the first cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Spread about a 1/4-inch (6-mm)-thick layer of buttercream evenly over the cake. Place the second cake layer on top of the buttercream, then spread more buttercream on top. Finally, place the last cake layer, then frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream. You don’t need a super thick layer, but you want enough buttercream to press the coconut flakes into.
- Scoop up handfuls of coconut flakes and gently press them into and all over the surface of the cake.
- For best results, chill the cake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes to secure the coconut flakes. If needed, fill in gaps by placing a little frosting on the back of a coconut flake and securing it to the area.
*To substitute ghee, use an equal amount by weight. If measuring by volume (cups), reduce the amount of fat used to 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons.