baking/ celebration/ dessert/ gluten free/ this is life

Things I Wish I had Known when I was Younger… Rosemary Scented Chocolate Cake with Gin Soaked Prunes, Date Caramel, Roasted Oranges + Almonds

Rosemary scented Chocolate Cake with Gin Soaked Prunes, Date Caramel, Roasted Oranges and Almonds

It’s a time of birthdays, life lessons and rosemary scented chocolate cake, and it’s had me thinking about which advice I wish I had been given {or somehow knew} when I was younger. What do I wish I had known that I have now figured out? One thing for sure, is that’s a good thing to have more fun. Definitely have as much fun as you can! What is life for if not for living as best you can?! Another is that you only get out what you put in; put in the right stuff in the right direction and you will be amazed at what you can do. You, my friends, are all amazing and capable creatures. Be your own biggest supporter and truly acknowledge your amazing self and your hard work when you achieve something great. Trust in yourself and create the life you want one step at at time, and see what amazing things come your way.

Before I had kids I worked in a bunch of places as a graphic designer. I worked hard and was fast and accurate, which meant that I was given a lot of work… but not the kind of work I wished for. I didn’t get to be the designer doing the creative stuff, I was the designer who could churn out that really big catalogue by the end of the week, or a thousand little ads that had a deadline of yesterday. I was the girl you went to when you needed it right and you needed it now. At the time I didn’t really realise that life could be (or should be for me at least) any different. You got a job, worked hard, and fun was for the weekends. These jobs helped develop my eye for detail, and that’s a good thing, but on the whole I just found it all very empty. I was never really making anything that I was proud of. My bosses were pretty happy, but I wasn’t! I was missing fulfilment.

Rosemary scented Chocolate Cake with Rosemary and Gin Soaked Prunes - gluten free

It was an easy decision for me to stay at home when I had children and for that I am grateful. Being a mum is the biggest job ever, and it was right for me to throw myself into it fully. There have been many beautiful times and lots and lots of hard ones. I had no-idea what I was doing and it took me awhile to feel confident as a mother. But one thing I figured out early on was that I wanted to put in as much of me as possible, and that growing these little lives and our lives together was my major goal for that moment in time.

I threw myself into being a mum so much, that at times I forgot I was anything else. When the kids were little, I felt everything with such intensity and loved them so fiercely that it was hard to let anything go. I need to learn to let them make their own mistakes and find their own lessons. I needed to let them grow. My next step was to find balance in being a mum and being a person too, to remember my interests and passions, my wishes and dreams, and to start taking some steps towards them. As much as I had put into the little children, I needed to put into myself.

Those times were hard, but I’m glad I went through them, I’m glad I put in the work, because it taught me so much about who I am and how I want to live. And I now take note closely of how differently people live and why what they do works for them. I’m also incredibly glad that I lived those intense mothering years. I have amazing children who teach me new things every day, and remind me to look at things with careful, thoughtful eyes.

Chocolate Cake with Rosemary and Prunes, Date Caramel and Oranges

So, advice I would give to my younger self? You only get out what you put in, so put in the good stuff sprinkled with the right wishes… take little steps but always keep moving forward, and realise that you are in fact getting somewhere. Don’t let yourself feel stuck, use any stuck feelings as a flag that something isn’t quite right, and that this moment is an opportunity to create and refine what it is you really want. And it’s okay to change your mind if things aren’t right, some things will only work for you for a certain amount of time. We are constantly evolving creatures, and isn’t that a marvellous thing?!

Rosemary Scented Chocolate Cake with Gin Soaked Prunes, Date Caramel, Roasted Oranges + Almonds

I made this cake to celebrate one of my uncle’s big birthday milestones. It’s funny how turning a particular age can feel more momentous than another. The decade birthdays always seem to hold more gravity than the individual years. But really I think we are all made up of the littlest of moments, the daily patterns and subtle changes to how we are that we probably don’t even notice. Maybe this is why these birthdays feel so big, they make us take that moment to see how far we really have come.

This cake is deliciously rich and deserving of a major moment of significance or celebration. Serve it as dessert in thin slices, perhaps with a little drizzle of thin cream.

Chocolate Cake with Rosemary and Prunes Recipe and Things I Wish I Knew When I was Younger

Chocolate and Rosemary Cake with Gin Soaked Prunes

For one 23cm cake

Adapted from the brownie recipe in the Bourke Street Bakery Cookbook

300g pitted prunes, roughly chopped
200ml gin, or brandy or cognac or hot black tea
55g buckwheat flour
40g raw cacao powder
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of very finely chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons baking powder
300g dark chocolate (I used 85% cacao)
80g unsalted butter
1 cup xylitol, or coconut sugar or caster sugar
4 eggs
100g (1/2 cup) sour cream

Place the prunes in a glass bowl and pour over your soaking liquid. Allow to soak for up to 3 days.

Preheat the oven to 150°C fan / 170° C / 325°F / Gas mark 3. Grease a 23cm diameter (or thereabouts) cake tin, and line the base and sides with baking paper.

In a heatproof bowl, place the chocolate, butter and xylitol or sugar. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Allow the steam to melt the ingredients together, stirring occasionally. Once fully melted, set aside to cool slightly.

In a small bowl sift together the flour, cacao powder, baking powder and rosemary.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated – the mixture will start to look creamy and have more volume. Add in the flour mixture and mix until combined, then add in the sour cream as well as the soaked prunes and any remaining soaking liquid; mix until just combined.

Spoon the mixture in to the cake tin and bake in the oven for 45 – 60 mins, until the centre has just set. Allow to cool in the tin before turning out.

Roasted Oranges

2 oranges – 1 sliced into thin rounds and the other juiced

Line a deep roasting tin with baking paper and place the orange rounds inside. Squeeze over the juice of the second orange, and cover with another layer of baking paper, and then a layer of aluminium foil. Bake in the oven at the same time as the cake, for around an hour or until the rind of the orange is tender.

Date Caramel

from Top With Cinnamon

I found some amazing Medjool dates from the Northern Territory at our local organic shop, they were so soft and succulent that they were almost caramel to begin with.

1 cup of chopped dates
1 cup of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
pinch of salt

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender until really smooth. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and heat on medium heat for 15-20 mins until the caramel has thickened – you can also make this caramel in a Thermomix, just set to 90° for 15 mins and remove the little plastic bit in the lid to allow the steam to escape, and let the machine to do the stirring for you. If you feel like the caramel needs to be a little thicker, continue heating and stirring for another 5 mins.

Assembly

Place the cake on a serving plate, spread with the date caramel, layer on the roasted orange slices and scatter with a handful of roasted almonds and some dark chocolate shards. Enjoy xx

Chocolate Cake with Date Caramel - gluten free recipe

Rosemary Scented Chocolate Cake with Gin Soaked Prunes, Date Caramel, Roasted Oranges and Almonds

Print Recipe
Serves: 15 - 20 Cooking Time: 1.5 - 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 300g pitted prunes, roughly chopped
  • 200ml gin, or brandy or cognac or hot black tea
  • 55g buckwheat flour
  • 40g raw cacao powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of very finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 300g dark chocolate (I used 85% cacao)
  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 1 cup xylitol, or coconut sugar or caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 100g (1/2 cup) sour cream
  • +
  • 2 oranges - 1 sliced into thin rounds and the other juiced
  • +
  • 1 cup of chopped dates
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • pinch of salt
  • +
  • handful of chopped roasted almonds (optional, but really good!)
  • handful of dark chocolate shards (optional and also really good!)

Instructions

1

For the cake : Place the prunes in a glass bowl and pour over your soaking liquid. Allow to soak for up to 3 days.

2

Preheat the oven to 150°C fan / 170° C / 325°F / Gas mark 3. Grease a 23cm diameter (or thereabouts) cake tin, and line the base and sides with baking paper.

3

In a heatproof bowl, place the chocolate, butter and xylitol or sugar. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Allow the steam to melt the ingredients together, stirring occasionally. Once fully melted, set aside to cool slightly.

4

In a small bowl sift together the flour, cacao powder, baking powder and rosemary.

5

Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated - the mixture will start to look creamy and have more volume. Add in the flour mixture and mix until combined, then add in the sour cream as well as the soaked prunes and any remaining soaking liquid; mix until just combined.

6

Spoon the mixture in to the cake tin and bake in the oven for 45 - 60 mins, until the centre has just set. Allow to cool in the tin before turning out.

7

For the oranges : Line a deep roasting tin with baking paper and place the orange rounds inside. Squeeze over the juice of the second orange, and cover with another layer of baking paper, and then a layer of aluminium foil. Bake in the oven at the same time as the cake, for around an hour or until the rind of the orange is tender.

8

For the date caramel : Blend all the ingredients together in a blender until really smooth. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and heat on medium heat for 15-20 mins until the caramel has thickened - you can also make this caramel in a Thermomix, just set to 90° for 15 mins and remove the little plastic bit in the lid to allow the steam to escape, and let the machine to do the stirring for you. If you feel like the caramel needs to be a little thicker, continue heating and stirring for another 5 mins.

9

Assembly : Place the cake on a serving plate, spread with the date caramel, layer on the roasted orange slices and scatter with a handful of roasted almonds and some dark chocolate shards. Enjoy xx

Notes

• gluten free • grain free •
You can bake the cake and the oranges at the same time 🙂

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