Gluten-free carrot and pecan cake

You can really never go wrong with a classic, especially when it's dressed up as a sheep. Jacqui's super-delicious cake is perfect for Easter, and really anytime you're craving marshmallows

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 150ml peanut or vegetable oi
  • 150g dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 150g gluten free flour mix, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg or allspice
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 250g carrots, peeled and grated
  • 80g raisins
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • 100g yogurt

For the vanilla butter cream

  • 110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 2tbsp cream
  • 1 sachet vanilla powder or 1tsp clear vanilla essence

For the marshmallow fondant

  • 450g white marshmallows
  • 4 cups icing sugar plus extra for dusting
  • 2tbsp water
  • Pink or flesh food colouring and other colours for decorations

Method

The cake

  1. Pre heat oven to 180⁰C or gas mark 4.  
  2. Grease a Pyrex bowl well and lightly dust with gf flour.  
  3.  Whisk the sugar with the peanut oil and then gradually add in the eggs.
  4. Fold in the flour, the spices, the baking powder and the bicarbonate of soda.  Add the grated carrots, raisins, chopped pecans, yogurt and mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared bowl and bake for 45 – 60 minutes until firm to touch, or if a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.
  6. Leave to cool completely before removing from bowl.

The vanilla buttercream

  1. Beat the butter using a hand-held mixer in a medium sized bowl. Beat on high for at least five minutes, scraping down the sides with a spatula every minute or so.
  2. Add the sifted icing sugar gradually, together with the vanilla powder and beat for at least a minute in between additions. Once all the icing sugar has been beaten in, add between 1 to 2 tbsp of cream and mix well again. If using the clear vanilla extract, add it when you beat in the cream.

The marshmallow fondant

  1. Dust your counter or large cutting board with powdered sugar.
  2. Place the marshmallows and the water in a large bowl.
  3. Microwave on high for 1 minute, until the marshmallows are puffy and expanded.
  4. Stir the marshmallows with a rubber spatula until they are melted and smooth.
  5. Add the powdered sugar and begin to stir with the spatula until the sugar  begins to incorporate and becomes impossible to stir anymore.
  6. Scrape the marshmallow-sugar mixture out onto a prepared work surface.
  7. Dust your hands with powdered sugar, and begin to knead the fondant mixture like bread dough, working the sugar into the marshmallow with your hands.
  8. Continue to knead the fondant until it smoothens out and loses its stickiness.
  9. Once the fondant is a smooth ball, roll it out, shape it, or wrap it in cling wrap to use later.
  10. If you want to add colouring to your fondant, flatten it into a round disc, add to the centre of the disc, and fold the disc over on itself so that the colour is enclosed in the centre of the fondant ball.
  11. Begin to knead the ball of fondant just like you did before until the streaks of colour are gone and the fondant is a uniform colour.

Making the sheep

  1. Divide the fondant into two.
  2. Colour one half pink or flesh colour.  
  3. Using the pink one, cut ¾ off it and shape the large piece into a pear to form the head.  
  4. Using a non-serrated knife or a teaspoon, make indentations to form the mouth and a blunt stick to form the dimples, nostrils and eyes.  
  5. With the remaining pink fondant, form four balls, two bigger than the other.  Roll all of them in a sausage shape and again using a blunt knife, form the hoofs.  Set aside to dry.
  6. With the white fondant, (leave a little extra to make other details like flowers etc) cut off smallish pieces, roll with one hand to form a long roll, cut into pieces and then form spirals.  Make different sized ones and set aside to dry.  
  7. With some offcuts, roll into different sized little balls. Also prepare two ears.  
  8. Roll the fondant, shape like a tear drop and flatten it slightly.

Assembling the cake

  1. Slice the cake in half horizontally and spread some of the buttercream, then sandwich the cake back together again.
  2. With the rest of the buttercream, cover the entire cake.  
  3. Before transferring the cake to the stand, cut out a round border of baking paper and placed it on the stand, so later, it will be easy to pull out from under the sheep after you finish your work.  
  4. Start placing the spirals, gently pushing them in the buttercream so they will adhere.  
  5. Push 2 cocktail sticks at the back of the head and place the head of the sheep at an angle onto the cake.  
  6. Stick the ears in as well, in between the swirls on each side of the cake.  
  7. Do the same with the legs, a cocktail stick in each leg at the top, and place into cake.  The back legs can just sit flat and be gently pushed into the buttercream.  
  8. Using edible glue, fill in the gaps with the remaining balls.
  9. Prepare a few flowers as well as a couple leaves with the extra fondant to decorate the sheep.
  10. For the eyes, use chocolate sprinkles.
  11. With a pair of scissors, cut the baking paper border at intervals and then gently pull it out from under the sheep.
  12. Dolly the Fat Sheep is now ready!

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