So I’m thirty tomorrow.
I think there is somehow a lie on my birth certificate. I mean, how is it possible I am thirty? I don’t feel thirty. My brain does not understand how it’s not still the 90s or maybe the 00s and how I’m not part of the generation coming of age anymore.
Thirty seems like one of those pivotal years. One that really means something as a milestone of life and adulthood. It’s that time when you need to get your shit together and do it rapidly. You have to figure out what you want from life and how to get it sooner than later.
Maybe I feel that way because my twenties ended with a lot of change. Good change. Great change. Change I have wanted for … well … ever. Most of those changes are pretty easy pills to swallow (hi book publishing deal!) but with all of them comes the feeling that everything is going to change.
I guess a lot of this stems from my need and desire to transition my life from doing practically everything with my parents and family friends to having my own circles, relationships, life. I think I’m striking a good balance, but sometimes I go from wanting to break free like a bird from a nest to loving that I have a support system to count on no matter what.
Like a lot of things in life, these are pretty mixed feelings. They’re difficult to comprehend and sort out, sometimes driving me insane. But in the moments of clarity, I find peace in knowing that I am growing and changing and pushing myself. Knowing I’m doing the best I can and I’m trying to improve every single day.
I definitely don’t love winter, but I find that I do kinda sorta love life lately and a year or so ago, I couldn’t say that. A year or so ago I couldn’t say a lot of the things about myself that I am proud to say now. Life’s funny that way.
So maybe I’ll figure life out or maybe I won’t. I’m still going to have good days and bad, that’s how it goes for everyone, and my personality is one that sometimes gravitates toward anxiety and sadness when there’s even a hint of either to cling to. But I can honestly tell you that as long as I’m being me, whether other people like me or not, I’m cool and I am excited to see not only where this next year, but also this next decade leads me.
I know it’s starting with this insane paleo carrot cake with vegan cream cheese frosting. I’m a carrot cake freak, but I do find a lot of them to be disappointing. I can say hands down this is the best carrot cake I have ever had. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted from this nutty, vegetable filled cake without any grains or dairy or refined sugar.
It all starts with the cake, loaded with toasted walnuts, juicy raisins, tons of carrots, and a hint of orange. The cake alone is a birthday gift.
But then there’s the frosting. Mom was leery it would be good at all. Okay, so maybe I was too. The Vitamix definitely didn’t love processing it, and I nearly had a panic attack, but it worked out fantastically. This frosting is so insanely creamy and tangy and OMG it tastes like cream cheese, but it’s not, and we can add that to the list of things my brain most definitely does not understand.
Together, the cake and frosting meld into this ultra decadent and rich cake that practically melts in your mouth until you hit a crunchy nut or catch a burst of juice from a raisin. And the carrot roses on top, a totally optional but rather tasty garnish, really made this a special birthday cake.
So thirty. Yeah. Let’s do this!Print
1 cup toasted walnuts
¾ cup raisins
¾ cup + 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
2 cups paleo flour blend
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon vanilla bean powder
¾ cup coconut sugar
3 large eggs
2 ½ cups coarsely grated carrots
2 heaping cups cashews, soaked in filtered water overnight
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2–3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean powder
Carrot ribbons from 2-3 thick carrots
1 cup water
¾ cup pure maple syrup
Make the cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment.
Zest the orange into a large bowl, then juice it into a smaller bowl. Place the raisins in the smaller bowl with the juice, microwave 30 seconds, and allow to soak while you make the batter.
In the large bowl with the orange zest, add the oil, sugar, and eggs. Whisk to combine. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and vanilla, and mix until just combined. Stir in the carrots, walnuts, raisins, and two tablespoons of the orange juice.
Once the batter comes together, divide evenly between the two pans, and bake about 30 minutes until cakes are golden brown, set, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Spoon the remaining juice over the hot cakes (if you don’t have much, definitely juice an extra orange) and allow to cool completely in the pan.
Make the frosting. Drain the cashews and pat them dry with paper towels. In a high powered blender, place the cashews, lemon juice, maple syrup, and almond milk. Using the tamper if you have one, blend until creamy. Honestly, my machine made lots of weird noises and didn’t seem to enjoy this process, but the end result was wonderfully creamy. Scrape down, add the vanilla bean, and blend until creamy.
Assemble the cake. Place one cake carefully on a serving platter. Cover with a layer of frosting. Place the other cake carefully on top. Use remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake.
Make the carrots. Stir together water and syrup in a large skillet. Once it comes to a boil, add the carrot ribbons and boil for 3 minutes. Allow to cool in the skillet. Carefully roll carrot ribbons into little roses and place on paper towels to drain. Before serving, decoratively place on top of the cake.
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 30 minutes