Boil the kettle and make a cup of tea folks, this is going to be a big one!
First of all, I have to begin this post by saying THANK YOU. My New Roots is officially 10 years old and I couldn’t have done it without your support, enthusiasm, and full-on LOVE for this little blog. And especially after the last couple of posts when I really opened up about my recent struggles, I felt so supported, and saw that so many of you did as well. It reminded me of the strong community that this has become, and the power of people when they come together with a common goal of true wellness.
If you had told me an entire decade ago that my deeply passionate, unabashedly nerdy, and nearly ignored internet musings would end up turning into a full-on career, brand, cookbooks, online classes, app, poster shop and retreat company I never, ever would have believed you. But reading my first post again, it’s just as relevant today as ever, eerily almost as if I had written it last week. I guess I had a strong vision in mind and just kept trucking, kept trusting, that it would resonate with someone. But here we are, a third of my life later, and it’s not just someone, but so many of you. And all of my dreams continue to be born and manifest because of you. That offhanded suggestion from an old boyfriend who thought I could use an outlet for all that “health talk” I kept spewing, was really onto something. Thanks, dude.
Secondly…and this is really big news…I am moving back to Canada! Yes, after nine years of delicious life in Copenhagen, my old roots are pulling me home and I am so very ready. This whole thing has been in the works for a few months now, but I didn’t really feel like putting it out there until it was real. Well lemme tell ya, when putting my family’s life in 50 boxes and shoving them into a shipping container, shiz got real, real fast. What a crazy feeling it is, and totally overwhelming with all the emotions that relocating your entire life is. So, if things have been (and continue to be) quiet around here, it’s because I’ve been sorting through all the details that an international move entails. I send my gratitude for your patience.
The next chapter of my life will be completely different from the last, that is for sure. To change things up dramatically, my family and I will be living out of the city in fact, near-ish to Toronto, where I am originally from. I knew that I would end up living in the country at some point, but not so soon! It was more a “when I retire” kind of thing. But funny what happens when you have kids and they need s-p-a-c-e, your priorities seem to shift to accommodate the little ones. Plus, I feel the need to be on the ground again (I’ve been living in a fourth-floor apartment for nine years now!), so we bought a house to get closer to earth in every sense, plant a garden, lay in the grass – our own grass – and enjoy the quiet and safety of a little community. I’m really excited for everything that is to come, and feeling so grateful for the divine unfolding.
But will I miss Copenhagen? Obvi. This city, and my home here, is where I have spent my entire adult life. The walls of my beloved kitchen that my husband and I built ourselves, have held space for two cookbooks, online classes, countless dinner parties, bleary-eyed breakfasts, and even the birth of our son for crying out loud! And although My New Roots began in Toronto, it flourished here and truly became something on Danish ground. The Scandinavian culture has had a profound influence on me, my aesthetic, and how I see the world now. Having Europe at my doorstep with all its history, architecture, fine arts, culture, and attitude has been an enormous privilege and deeply inspiring. And can we talk about the light? Oh the light! How my camera and I will miss the very special way the sun slants here. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before.
Anyway, I promise to keep you all posted as we leave one fabulous country for the next. I won’t have a working kitchen for some months, but I’ll stay as active as I can on Instagram so you can keep up with my kitchen renovations…I know you’ll want to see all that house porn. Tee hee.
Okay, now for the main event. I MADE A CARROT CAKE. Successfully. It is delicious. I feel like I have finally achieved one of my biggest culinary goals ever, and it’s so appropriate that we celebrate ten years of this blog with a recipe that has challenged me for nearly as long. If you remember back to when I used to post giant layer cakes for my birthday, I ran into trouble in 2013, when I attempted three different versions, which all failed, and ended up making nut butter sandwiches instead. Since then, the headcount has continued to rise, yet some ridiculously stubborn part of me won’t give up.
In the past I’ve almost always used spelt flour for baking, and if any of you have tried one of my famous layer cakes, you’ll know this has worked well. I was after the same crumb that you can achieve with wholegrain spelt, but wanted the cake to be gluten-free, so I started by using an all-purpose gluten-free flour. It was a total disaster. The cake turned out gummy and inedible, and the frosting, which I tried to make with cooked quinoa (don’t ask) was just weird. The next route I tried was with almond flour, since I’ve been eating a more low-grain diet for the past few months and I wanted the cake to reflect that. Before testing it out, I assumed that almond flour would make things really dense and heavy, but lo and behold it creates a crumb that is so fluffy, and really gives this feeling of deep satisfaction. I’m obsessed. The only thing that I don’t like about almond flour is the high price, and the fact that almonds are a very water-intensive crop to grow. But, this is a cake after all, therefore a special treat, therefore not something you have all the time.
The initial carrot cake experiments with almond flour were good, but borderline too rich. Plus, since I’d ditched the quinoa frosting idea and knew I’d be taking the cashew road, I felt like a nut frosting on top of a nut cake was just, well, too nutty. To reconcile my relationship with coconut flour, I cut the dry ingredients with a tad to see what would happen. Not only was the cake just as good, but the texture was better and I liked the flavor the coconut flour provided. We are friends again.
The Cashew Coconut frosting for this cake is what Canadians would affectionately call a “twofer”. Bahahaha! (I really do amuse myself). For everyone else out there, in long form, this refers to a “two-for-one” deal. You can make this recipe once, but have the frosting come out two ways depending on its temperature. Pretty groovy, eh? If you use the frosting right after making it, it will be loose and glossy, almost glaze-like. If you prefer a traditional-style frosting that is thicker and stiffer, all you need to do is put the mixture in the fridge overnight to achieve this consistency. I chose to go with the room temperature version since I hadn’t really worked with it like that before. It provided a more even layer, but it’s also a little harder to control. Either way it’s delicious, so don’t worry about making the wrong choice…there isn’t one! The flavour is major: I’m talking soooo cream cheese-like that even I was confused.
If you’re not feeling the chunky carrot cake vibes, please look away now, because the cake of my dreams is loaded with pineapple, walnuts, and bursting with warm spice and citrus zest. I went to town! Instead of using questionably-edible canned pineapple, I used the dried, unsweetened version from the health food store. This stuff ain’t cheap, but again, cake splurge. If you can’t find pineapple like this, dates, raisins, dried figs or apricots would also be good, but I’d skip the soaking step. Instead of walnuts you could use pecans, macadamias, or even pumpkin seeds.
Altogether this carrot cake is moist, decadent, and satisfying with so many layers of flavour and texture that just won’t quit. I’ve learned a lot in the past decade, and this cake is an expression of that. It’s something to be proud of, and something to share. Thanks for sticking by me while I worked out the kinks…now it’s time to celebrate all the things!
2/3 cup / 60g dried, unsweetened pineapple, plus more for garnish if desired
1 ½ cups / 200g lightly packed grated carrots (about 3 medium)
1 cup / 100g walnuts, plus more for garnish if desired
3 cups / 300g almond flour (not almond meal)
2/3 cup / 100g coconut flour
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. fine sea salt
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup / 250ml eggs, at room temperature (about 4-5 large eggs)
½ cup / 125ml odourless coconut oil, melted
1 cup / 250ml pure maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon (try to find organic, if possible)
Cashew Coconut Frosting:
1 ½ cups / 200g raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ cup / 175ml coconut cream from the top of a can of coconut milk
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
1. Pour just-boiled water over the dried pineapple (do not soak the pineapple you’re using for garnish). Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C. Lightly grease two 7” / 18cm spring form cake pans with coconut oil.
2. Wash carrots well and grate them on a box grater. Set aside. Roughly chop the walnuts.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, salt cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and nutmeg.
4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
5. Drain the soaked pineapple and squeeze with your hands to remove excess liquid. Roughly chop.
6. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Zest the orange and lemon into the bowl. Add the carrots, soaked pineapple, and chopped walnuts and fold to incorporate.
7. Spoon roughly half of the batter into one of the prepared cake pans, then add the remaining batter to the second one. Place in the oven in the middle rack and set the timer for 40 minutes. Cakes are ready when they are golden brown and pass the toothpick test (bake for longer if necessary, up to one hour – cover cake with aluminum foil if you need to bake for longer so that the top doesn’t burn). Remove cakes from the oven and let cool completely.
8. While the cakes are baking, make the frosting. Drain and rinse the cashews. Add them to a high-speed blender along with the other ingredients (you can use a normal blender or food processor, but the frosting won’t be as smooth). If the frosting is too thick, add more coconut cream or a teeny bit of water and blend again. Chill in the fridge (frosting can be made one day ahead if you want it to be thicker).
9. To frost and decorate, spread a generous amount of frosting over one half of the cake. Carefully lay the second half on top, and spread remaining frosting over the top and on the sides. Decorate with remaining dried pineapple and walnuts, if desired. Serve and enjoy! Cake will keep for 5 days, covered in the fridge.
Who knows what the future holds – the world seems so crazy these days – but I do know that I still have steam in me to keep going with this heart project, if you’re all still up for reading and cooking from it. Words cannot describe my gratitude for you, allowing me to pursue my biggest dreams and expose my shadowy bits as well. I hope you know how much I love you. I truly do. Here’s to another ten years…
xo, Sarah B
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Okay friends, there are still a couple spaces left for the next Wild Heart High Spirit retreat in Portugal! It’s this November 5-11, hosted at the ridiculously beautiful Sublime Comporta hotel (guys, I’ve been there and this place is NEXT LEVEL). I will be teaching cooking classes outside in the organic garden (pictured above!) and giving nutrition seminars daily, with yoga and movement classes twice a day with my dear friend and deeply talented friend, Mikkala Marilyn Kissi of Living Yolates. The kitchen is exclusively making My New Roots recipes for the week, so we can all enjoy these meals without having to lift a finger. Enjoy your private pool, open spa, horseback riding on the beach, bonfire nights and dancing under the stars. Come and get inspired to live your best life! We’ll show you how. Click here for more info, and see you in magical Portugal!