Today I’d like to share a simple recipe for a delicious carob sponge cake. This cake is super tasty, easy to make, and it doesn’t contain any refined sugar, wheat, dairy or eggs. It is the perfect Mediterranean dessert that is rich in flavour and made from real ingredients.
To make this easy vegan carob sponge cake, you will need the following ingredients:
- ground carob
- ground almonds
- white spelt flour – it works better for this recipe than whole grain spelt flour because it gives the cake a smoother texture
- carrots – to keep the cake extra juicy
- an orange – a perfect combination with carob, it will give the cake some extra flavour
- dark muscovado sugar – because of its high moisture content, it gives this cake the best texture; if you don’t use cane sugar at all, you can use coconut sugar instead.
- water or plant milk
- apple cider vinegar
- baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- almond butter – you can make your own at home, the same way like you would make this homemade hazelnut butter
- olive oil – I normally use coconut oil (or no oil at all) in my recipes, but since this is a very local tasting cake with Mediterranean ingredients, I think it would be a shame to use any other oil than extra virgin olive oil.
What type of carob should I use?
There are different ways of processing carob fruits, which results in products with slightly different properties. For example, if you get your carob from Portugal, it will most likely be dark in colour and really finely ground – with a fine consistency similar to powdered cacao.
Carob that we have here in Croatia is ground more coarsely, and lighter in colour because it was made from simply dried raw carob fruits.
Both of these are good for cakes, but in juicy sponge cakes like this I usually prefer to use the darker, powdered carob. It makes the batter smoother and it tastes quite similar to chocolate.
You won’t go wrong with the coarsely ground, raw carob either – your cake will simply have a bit more texture and taste a lot like carob (which is actually what some people prefer). So, the choice of carob for this recipe is up to you.
Cool things to know about carob
Carob is an evergreen tree from the legume family, native to the Mediterranean region and the Middle East. It grows as a wild plant, but is also widely cultivated. Its sweet, ripe fruits have been used in human diet for thousands of years.
It was a well known foodstuff among the ancient Egyptians, Greek and Romans – besides as a natural sweetener, they used it for medicinal purposes.
Carob as a medicinal plant
Ripe carob fruits are naturally rich in calcium, phosphorus, iron and other minerals. They have been used in traditional medicine for treating digestive problems, lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as for other indications. It was also known to be helpful in strengthening the immune system and cardiovascular system.
Still, I believe that carob is today mostly famous for its use in cookery. Because of their sweet taste and specific aroma, dried pods are often ground and used in various cakes and pastry.
Except for its flavour that I just love, what makes carob one of my favourite ingredients is the fact that it is a local foodstuff which is so easily available here in Croatia (but also in other parts of Europe, especially in the Mediterranean), so it doesn’t need to travel thousands of kilometers, dozens of storage places and too much processing and packaging to come to our plates.
When I am craving something sweet, I love to snack on a carob fruit pod. What about you?
Even if it is not your favourite thing in the world to chew on raw carob fruits straight from the tree, I am sure that you can give this juicy cake a chance – it is really rich and tasty, and actually reminds a lot of a classic chocolate sponge cake.
- 250 g white spelt flour (T630)
- 200 g ground carob
- 100 g ground almonds
- 400 g fresh carrots
- 100-150 g dark muscovado sugar
- 200 ml water
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 orange (zest and juice)
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 5 tbsp almond butter
- Put sliced carrots, muscovado sugar, oil, orange juice, almond butter, vinegar and water into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Mix the rest of the ingredients - spelt flour, almonds, carob, baking soda and orange zest - in a bowl and pour the mixture from the blender inside.
- Mix it all to combine, but don't over-mix so that the texture stays fluffy after baking.
- Pour the batter into a baking mould and bake for around 60 minutes at 175 °C.
- You can check if the cake is ready by sticking a toothpick in the middle. If it comes out clean, you can take the cake out of the oven.
- After taking the cake out of the mould, let it cool down wrapped in a kitchen cloth to preserve the moisture and keep its soft and juicy texture.
- If you don't have a blender, you can grate the carrots, add them to the mix of all the liquid ingredients and then combine everything with the dry ingredients mixed in a separate bowl.
- I often use spelt flour T630 for the cakes, but you can also go with another type of white spelt flour, or even semi-white spelt flour. I would not use whole grain flour in this recipe because the texture will not be as fluffy and juicy as with the white one. But if you don't mind, feel free to experiment 🙂