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Lovely vegan carrot date and walnut cake

I veganised a recipe handed down from my mum, and it's great. It's very soft and moist with a dark sweetness (from the dark sugar) that goes really well with the other flavours. Plus it keeps for a good while, and easy to make from mostly store-cupboard ingredients.

I've been making it for years - here's the original recipe - but now I wanted to VEGANISE it. It worked!

The most exotic thing involved is the ingredient that I used to replace egg: chia seed. You can also try flax seed. This other website has a nice guide on how to make "chia egg" or "flax egg" - there is something in these seeds that makes a glutinous substance that can bind a cake together.

It's a very easy recipe. The cake mix looks quite strange when you put it in the oven - a big blob of grated carrot, mostly! But it becomes a big brown dark and moist cake.

The end result is great. Compared against the non-vegan version there's a different texture - the edge of the cake is chewy/crispy in a nice way, I find.

  • 225g (8 oz) dark soft brown sugar
  • 180ml (6 fl oz) vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds - whole OR ground
  • 175g (6.5 oz) self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder (or 1 of bicarb - I need to check this)
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely grated
  • 50g (2 oz) chopped walnuts
  • A handful (about 6) dates, whole or chopped
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar

Make sure the walnuts and dates are quite finely chopped. It's nice to have big bits but they can tend to make the cake fall apart, which is more of a risk with this vegan version.

Line an 18cm (7 inch) round cake tin with greased greaseproof paper, and preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF, gas mark 4).

If your chia seeds are whole, grind them up in a pestle and mortar. If they're already ground, that's fine, and you might like to include a small sprinkle of whole seeds as well to add a bit of variety to the texture. Add water to the chia seeds, about the same volume of water as chia. No need to wait to let it "set" or anything like that.

Put the sugar into a mixing bowl and gradually whisk in the oil, then whisk in the chia mixture too. Add the flour, cinnamon and baking powder/bicarb and stir the mixture well, beating out lumps to make the mixture as smooth as you can. Add the carrots, nuts, dates and cider vinegar, and mix.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes, until the cake is risen and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven, leave to stand in the tin for 3 minutes, then turn out onto a wire tray, peel off the paper and leave to cool.

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