As much as I love a good piece of cake or a cookie, I’ve always detested the use of nuts in baking. Both the taste and rocky texture jar me and interrupt the experience of the said treat’s inherent smoothness that should center only around chocolate, peanut butter, cherry, or whatever the case may be. But that’s just me. I do, however, adore, seek-out, and go ga-ga for treats made with nut flour. It imparts a heft and richness that you simply can’t get from a grain. My usual nut-flour of choice is almond flour, in part because it’s so readily available. Coconut flour isn’t technically a nut-flour, but it’s paleo, nutrient-dense, and delicious…and also a little too heavy to use on its own. Enter walnut flour, something I whipped up in my food processor when it was time to use a mammoth bag of them purchased at CostCo before they went stale.
No special equipment is needed to turn whole walnuts into a golden-brown flour, other than a food processor or Vitamix. Blenders, I’m not so sure of. If yours has a wider-than average bottom to accommodate the accumulation, and you feel it’s up to the task, strength-wise, go for it.
And then…there’s the matter of dried fruit from the pantry that may be approaching a rather ripe old age. Often, I’ll stock up on dates and figs, forget about them, and when it comes time to enjoy them, find that they’ve turned bullet-hard over time.
A problem if you’re eating them out of the bag – but for baking, I found the perfect solution: A good soak! Setting them in a shallow pan and pouring hot water or tea (in this case a strong Roobios) will bring them back to appropriate plumpness. And the tea is an added flavor bonus for the recipe.
I must say, the walnut flour works beautifully and is a natural pairing with dates, figs, and carrots. This is a wet, dense sort of cake…think bran muffins, and you’ll see why you may need to tinker with baking time. The center should be firm, but with paleo baking, that’s still not enough. I always let gluten-free and paleo cakes sit in a cooling oven for at least 30 minutes. And since the carrots will add considerable moisture, it’s best to play the waiting game.
As you may have guessed, this is NOT a quickie recipe. But if you look at it as an investment in your health, it will become a labor of love. Wishing you all a Deliciously Merry Christmas and A Sweet, Bountiful New Year!