Spiced Carrot, Pistachio + Almond Cake


It’s 2015, you guys! I hope everyone’s year is off to a great start.

You know how sometimes when you stop doing something it becomes harder to start up again? You lose momentum. Like with new years resolutions, you start off exercising everyday, or flossing, and then you stop and you can’t imagine starting again. Sometimes it is like that with blogging. I took a little break for the holidays and I am now having to throw myself back into this. Not because I haven’t been cooking and wanting to tell you about (I have! I do!), but because it has been a while and so I now need to squeeze it back into my life. Squeeze it into the time slot that has been filled with things like bad tv and good books.

Processed with VSCOcam with b4 preset

Anyway, here I am, back on the internet. Excited to see all of you.

The internet is full of cleanses right now. Everywhere you look: juices, poached fish, and freekeh. It’s all served with a side of totally objectionable language like “clean eating” and “real food”, but that is perhaps a post for a different day. Today I am here to talk about cake.


This glorious cake is from a favorite cookbook of 2014, Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour. Desserts are definitely not the focus of the book, but this one sounded appealing. It’s accidentally gluten free, relying on ground almonds and coconut in place of grains. It is easy to throw together, you only need a bowl and a spoon. Well, I guess you also need a scale. But buying a kitchen scale should be your new years resolution anyway. The cake is a real beaut. Moist and nutty with the comforting flavors of carrot cake thrown in for good measure. It’s the sort of thing I want to be eating in January.




[Totally unrelated question/request: Any of you Detroit experts? I’m going to be there for a couple of days in February and would love some advice on where to eat and what to do. You guys always have the best suggestions….]


In the book, Gahyour serves this with some slightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with rose water. I recommend you do this, too. But with or without the cream, it is a delicious cake. My only adjustment would be to add some salt. I added a light sprinkling of a flaky sea salt to the serving plate, you could also add a pinch of salt to the batter.

Spiced Carrot, Pistachio + Almond Cake (recipe from Persiana by Sabrina Gahyour)

  • 3 large eggs
  • 200g (7 oz) superfine sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 200g (7 oz) ground almonds
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz) desiccated coconut (dried, unsweetened)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 150g (5 1/2 oz)unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely grated
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz) shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
  • confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas mark 3 (320° F). Line a 23cm (9-inch) springform cake pan with enough parchment paper to cover the base and sides. The oils from the nuts and butter in the batter prevent the cake from sticking, so no need to butter or oil paper or pan. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Add the ground almonds, coconut and cinnamon and stir, then add the butter and mix the ingredients thoroughly. Add the grated carrots and pistachios and mix again until the ingredients are evenly blended, then gently pour or spoon the batter into your prepared cake pan and bake for 1 hour, or until it feels firm to touch and a crust forms on top. Check at 40 minutes to ensure it is cooking evenly. Once cooked, allow to cool in the pan before serving.

The cake keeps well for a few days. Serves 10ish. (Because this cake is mostly nuts and coconut, it is a bit heavy—you’ll want to serve small slices.)


63 comments to “Spiced Carrot, Pistachio + Almond Cake”

  1. Such a fun combination of flavours for a cake. This looks lovely!

  2. I saw this on instagram the other day.

    Fuck, it’s beautiful. (The cake is, too. ;) )

  3. This looks beautiful. I am going to make it despite losing chunks of flesh every time I attempt to grate carrots. What’s my problem??? Does anyone else struggle with this? Maybe I need a different tool.

  4. Hi Laura- Slow down! I always have that happen when I am rushing. Be careful. : )

  5. Laura – I’d recommend using a food processor fitted with the grater if you have one!! I just made a grated carrot salad and nicked 4 of my knuckles before I switched to the food processor….what a life saver! (even if it was TOO LATE!).

    Also this cake looks divine – I have pistachios too from my carrot salad, so looks like I know where my leftover ingredients will be going!!

  6. Oh my. That beautifully crinkled parchment paper springform liner, gorgeously origami-like dimensional plate, hypnotically askew & chipped mini ice floe filled waterway! Cake doesn’t look bad, either. You make a good argument for a kitchen scale, TIM. ps a standard old school box grater with the handle on top handles my many carrots just fine, Laura. What tool are you struggling with, if you don’t mind me asking? :o) pps & to all the New Year internetiks out there? Well, cleanse THIS! And let me eat TIM’s cake.

  7. Not sure if you’re an Anthony Bourdain fan, but I enjoyed the episode where he traveled to Detroit.

  8. Thanks, MRM. Hadn’t seen that, will check it out.

  9. An earthy, pretty January cake. I have a bunch of pistachios waiting (from a fruit gift basket).

  10. Looks delicious!

    Re: Detroit–definitely try Roast and Le Petit Zinc for tasty food. Cass Cafe has a great vibe for hanging out for a low-key beer. For entertainment, head to the DIA and (depending on what’s happening when you’re there and your interests), try to catch a show at the Detroit Opera House or The Dirty Show (around Valentine’s). Don’t be scared of the news around Detroit–revitalization is happening everywhere!

  11. You don’t say if you’re staying downtown or in the burbs but either way there are many restaurants to choose from. If you’re a meat eater Slowes BBQ is great but hard to get in. It has a few really good veggie offerings too. I’m a vegetarian so all of these places are good for meat eaters and veggies alike…
    La Feria is a great tapas bar sort of in midtown, El Asador is a delish mexican dive on the SW side. Woodbridge Pub, Cass Cafe, Mercury Bar, Craft Work are all very good. La Dolce Vita is a wonderful old fashioned Italian restaurant. There are many more, of course, but these come to mind right now. These places are all in the city, many in or close to downtown. If you’re staying in the burbs there’s another list! Have a great visit!

  12. Glad you’re back! This cakes looks and sounds absolutely delicious!!

  13. Thanks, this looks just as delicious as it does healthy. Happy Nesting.

  14. Welcome back! Believe it or not, I have everything except the carrots for this cake. Looks wonderful. Back in the day, we used to do a lot of business trips to Detroit, but I don’t know a thing about it now.

  15. Welcome back Tim, I for one have missed you terribly, yours is one of the most intelligent, well written and inspiring blogs out there! I must tell you that because of you I am now the happy owner of a GIR spatula, along with my son’s partner whom I gifted one too this Christmas. He is a pastry chef here in Toronto and quite thrilled to own one too!

  16. Yay, you’re writing again! I always look forward to your posts when they pop up in my feed. This cake looks delicious–will definitely be making it soon!

  17. Hi Tim. So nice to have you back. Hope you had a nice holiday. I live in Ann Arbor and work part time in Detroit–such a wonderful city to explore. Here are some of my favorite spots for food/drink: Supinos, the best thin crust pizza; Slows, heavenly Southern bbq; Astro Coffee, hipster craft coffee with great vegetarian lunch options and pastries to boot; Detroit Vegan Soul new super popular vegan restaurant in the West Village area of Detroit; Parker St. Market, new specialty food store also in the West Village, they sell like 98% Michigan made food products, be sure to pick up buckwheat chocolate chip cookies/hand pies/slices of pie from Sister Pie (thats where I work and the pastries are divine); Lafayette Coney, the one and only, famous hot dog spot downtown; Green Dot Stables, great cheap bar with a menu of about 40 different types of sliders, awesome late night spot; Two James Distillery, stunning distillery with reasonably priced cocktails and tours; The Sugar House Bar, next to Slow’s/they have gained national recognition for their cocktail program.

    In terms of things to see, here are my musts: Detroit Institute of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Motown Museum; City Bird/Nest Detroit (really well curated boutique with beautiful home goods); Belle Isle. If you need any more recommendations or further information let me know!

  18. Also–I forgot to mention that I work in the retail department at Zingerman’s Deli. I saw on the blog that you’ve been before but if you’re passing through heading to Detroit, always a fun stop for some shopping.

  19. Lvefromaggieland says:

    January 13th, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    When you say ground almonds, do you mean almonds put in a food processor roughly chopped? Or can you use almond meal?

  20. Lve- You can use almond meal, or grind them yourself in a food processor- it’s the same thing. But finely ground, not roughly chopped.

  21. Hi all- Thanks for the nice notes and for the Detroit suggestions!

  22. Perfect timing – my copy of PERSIANA just came in at the library. That cake looks amazing.

  23. Looks like a great cake, especially love the idea of cream flavoured with rose water to go with it. This book has had so many awards & rave reviews, I must take a closer look at it soon!

  24. Dearborn is well known for some of the best Middle Eastern in the country. Since you like sweets, hit Shatila Bakery. Mezza Grille has amazing hummus…

  25. Welcome back! Ok, ok, I will buy a kitchen scale for the new year. This January, cake is the new kale – I’m in. Drinking juice while standing by the kitchen sink is not as satisfying as a plate and fork. Happy New Year! K xx

    P.S. I’ve hear The Shinola store/HQ in Detroit is worth a visit.

  26. I’ve been adding rosewater to more and more things lately. Love the idea of adding it to whipped cream. Try it in an apple crisp! :)

    One thing I know about Detroit is it’s home to the Valentine vodka distillery (future Mrs. Valentine here so you bet my Michigan-born future mother-in-law has given us many Valentine vodka gifts). It’s pretty good! We just got an elderflower vodka for Christmas.

  27. Megan from Canada says:

    January 15th, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    Hi Tim! I’m a long time fan of the site, but have never commented (so silly, I know!). Carrot cake has been at the back of my mind for the past couple of weeks so I was very happy to see this posting. I’m wondering if you think the cake would go well with some cream cheese frosting…I can’t help but wanting to add it!

  28. Hi Megan- Thanks for breaking your silence! ; ) I mean, it would not be bad with cream cheese frosting, but for me it would push it over to a side of heavy that I am not interested in. Maybe try it as is first, and then see what you think? Or maybe you are looking for a more traditional carrot cake? This definitely is not a traditional carrot cake.

  29. Megan from Canada says:

    January 15th, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks for the advice! I just have such a hard time thinking of any dessert with carrots to be without cream cheese. I also love me a hearty cake…I’ll let you know if I try it out! If I find it to be too much, I won’t complain about having to eat the icing on its own :)

  30. “Totally objectionable language, like ‘clean eating’ and real food.'” Yes! Yours is a blog for sore eyes.

  31. Alexander Craig says:

    January 15th, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    Going to Detroit? Slows BAR BQ is a must!

  32. Is there any way you can provide an approximate weight on the amount of carrots? I buy mine at the farmers’ market, and they’re all over the place in terms of size. Large is relative…

  33. This cake looks super yummy. Not too sweet but still so satisfying for dessert.

  34. I can’t wait to make this cake; all of my favorite ingredients. Regarding Detroit; going to the DIA (Detroit Instit of Art) is an absolute MUST.

    Happy NY!

  35. Hi Leslie- No, sorry. I didn’t weigh my carrots, I just winged it. As long as they don’t seem “small” you’ll be fine.

    Thanks for the Detroit suggestions, everyone!

  36. I agree with all of the Detroit suggestions mentioned, with the exception of Slow’s. Very overrated food and too much hipster attitude. The Union Woodshop in Clarkston is much better if you are looking for bbq. Other Detroit restaurants I would highly recommend: El Barzon, Selden Standard, Gold Cash Gold, and Torino (in Ferndale). Brunch at Rose’s Fine Food or The Dime Store. Have drinks at Cliff Bell’s. Besides the DIA, make sure you check out Eastern Market!

  37. For Detroit suggestions: Do not miss the Yemen Cafe in Hamtramck! It is some of the best Yemeni food I’ve had in the US. Bonus, it is in a neighborhood with several excellent meat markets, just in case you need to stock up on 14 different kinds of sausage before you leave.

  38. Tim, the cake looks absolutely beautiful and delicious, but I must confess that I am completely distracted by the plate – it is gorgeous – I love it!

  39. Hi Tim–I discovered your food blog just a couple of weeks ago and have been ogling many recipes (milk liqueur! basque cake!)–but this carrot cake is the first I’ve made, and it was incredible. Some people even said it was among their favorite-ever desserts. I added 1/2 tsp of salt to the batter. I’m a fan of salt in desserts and thought the coconut and carrots could take it. I found this amount to bring out all the flavors without going over the edge, but would not add any more. Thank you for the truly delicious, unique recipe; count me a regular reader!

  40. Hey Tim- First of all, great name. Second, thanks for discovering the blog and making a cake. Glad you liked it! Salt is always the easiest way of improving baked goods.

  41. Incidentally gluten free cakes are my favorite thing – particularly ones that could easily be made lactose-free (coconut oil is my go-to, which seems like it’d be alright with the flavors here) as well. My mom is gluten intolerant and my brother is lactose intolerant, which makes desserts a challenge! I’m filing this away for next time. Thank you!!

  42. Hi Tim! Is “superfine” sugar also known as confectioner’s sugar? Or can I simply use plain ol’ granulated sugar?

  43. Hey Steph- No, they are different things. Superfine sugar is finely ground granulated sugar, it is the standard for baking in the UK. It is sold at most grocery stores in the US and usually comes in a little box. Sometimes it is called caster sugar. It dissolves more easily, is the large advantage. You can replicate it at home by pulsing regular granulated sugar in a food processor. Not exactly the same, but close. Confectioner’s sugar in the US has added cornstarch, you don’t want to use that for this.

  44. Tim, I baked this fabulous cake and added 1/2 tsp of salt per your suggestion. It’s the kind of dessert that’s perfect when you want a cup of coffee and just a couple bites of something. It was enough to make me order “Persiana”, like a really need another cookbook. : )

  45. Hi again, Tim–5 words and you come up with a better joke about our names (name singular?) than I couldn’t think of in 5 minutes. Speaking of salt in desserts, I think you would love the “Milk and Honey” dessert at The Nomad in New York. The recipe is online. A quick google for “Milk and Honey nomad recipe” will lead you to it (I feel weird posting links directly in comments sections, because, uh, supposedly I’m sensitive about being perceived as a spammer).

  46. Hey Tim- Stop spamming me. Just kidding! Oh man, that dessert looks GREAT. Thanks for letting me know!

  47. my husband is carrot cake lover, this might just be the one recipe that might sway him away from his beloved carrot cake. Beautiful photos.

  48. Vicki in NC says:

    January 22nd, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    I must get that cookbook. This recipe is fabulous.
    So are you!!! A new find for me.

  49. Vicki in NC says:

    January 22nd, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    Serve in small slices!! Yeah, right!
    I’m old and live alone…I’ll never tell!

  50. Happy New Year! So look forward to your posts so am happy you have returned to the scene and can’t wait to try this cake!

  51. We made this and it was super nice. We agree that whipped heavy cream with a.couple drops of rose water is essential. Thanks Tim for sharing.

  52. Wow, yum! Carrot cakes can be a bit same-same, thanks for sharing something different! Super glad you’re back …

  53. i could imagine this cake being super good with candied ginger added to the batter! yummy.

  54. making this now–just opened the oven for a peek, and man does it smell good in there! Shiv helped mix everything & we are taking it to his friend’s house for a play date.

    on another note, I finally got around to making that English muffin loaf of yours–holy cow. thank God I took it into work that morning or I would have eaten the entire two loaves myself.

  55. Hi Tim!

    I am so happy you are coming to visit our great city! Selden Standard and Torino are two unforgettable places to visit. The menu, chefs and staff at both restaurants are fantastic!

    If you have time and are here for a Saturday morning/afternoon, try to pop into the winter market at Eastern Market. You can find a lot of delicious things to bring back in your suitcase. Grab a pizza from Supinos (near the market) and you will be very happy.

    Have fun!

  56. I’m probably the worst person to ask about anything in the US because I’ve never been there. But nevertheless I just wanted to say yes to having a hard time getting back into the blogging groove after a break, no to New Year’s resolutions (except for this kitchen scale thing. Precision scale: check!) and YES to this cake. Love it. And cleanses? Tsk, so bourgeois.

  57. Made this cake this afternoon for a dinner party and it was a big hit! I’m sort of loose paleo but didn’t tell anyone this was grain-free and no one suspected it was anything but delicious dessert! I did use honey instead of sugar (only bc I recently moved and don’t have a fully stocked kitchen yet) and the honey does bring its own slight taste but it complements the other flavors nicely. Will definitely make again!

  58. Schneiderluvsdoof says:

    February 7th, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    So pretty and looks like pacman.

  59. I am so glad this cake was posted. I make this all the time and it has become one of my favourites. I prefer to serve it with greek yoghurt with a splash of orange blossom water.

  60. Planning to make this for my Passover seder! Don’t have a springform pan though – how essential is it that I use one?

  61. Hi Sarah- I haven’t tried, but I am sure you’ll be fine. Line the whole pan with parchment. You’ll need to let the cake cool completely in the pan before attempting to remove the cake.

  62. Michaela says:

    May 20th, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    THIS CAKE IS BEAUTIFUL! I made this cake dairy and refined sugar free/paleo. Replacing the butter with coconut oil and the sugar with coconut sugar and it was BEAUTIFUL!!! The coconut sugar had a more caramel taste to it and it all worked so beautifully together with the spices. One of my favourite go to recipes! It is sooo yum and can be made healthy!
    Im going to try making it today low fodmap, so using walnut meal instead of almond and add some pecans instead of pistashios. Let you know if it is as good. Might add a bit of nutmeg too!?

  63. I made this on the weekend for a dinner party and it was a big hit. I added a thin layer of lemon cream cheese frosting on top and a big pile of toasted coconut flakes and it looked gorgeous.
    6 of us managed to almost demolish the entire thing, not sure about the 10 serves. I guess that’s for people with self control.

What do you think?