Mother’s Day – An Heirloom Recipe Updated

Click here to go to printable recipe:  Gluten-Free Carrot Cake   

I am lucky enough to be the keeper of my mom’s recipe notebooks; they had been sequestered at the back of my bookcase for a couple of years now, but the other day, I spotted them, and started to browse one of them.  Maybe because of my recent post of classic carrot cake squares, a recipe for “Pastel de Zanahoria” – “Carrot Cake” caught my attention.  Below is a picture of the recipe, in my mom’s handwriting, followed by my translation to English:

The name at the right corner “Evelyn”, provides a bridge to the identification of the source.  There used to be a weekday morning TV show in Mexico called “La mujer, ahora” – “Women, now”; it had different sections pertaining women’s health, social issues, family life, and of course, food.  Evelyn La Puente was one of the hostesses on the show, and for the food segment, she would usually have a guest chef, cooking for the audience while chatting with her.  My mom would sit and take notes while watching, so it is not surprising that the directions are very sketchy, not full sentences, and many details are missing, such  as the size of the mould to be used, as well as the temperature of the oven, and cooking times. I also could not help but gasp at the amount of carrots that the recipe calls for, 1kg, or over 2lb!!!  Now, I was intrigued, as reproducing this cake was starting to look as a challenge from a baking contest. 

Then, I noticed the recipe was from the month of May (1977), and thought that maybe this was originally aired as a suggestion for Mother’s Day, so in addition, I thought making this cake would be a nice project, imagining my mom watching a food show (one of her favourite hobbies), exactly 45 years ago … challenge accepted!

Checking the ingredients, except for the shredded carrots, they all seemed to add up to a small cake, maybe an 8-inch (20 cm) mould, and a standard baking temperature would be 350°F (180ºC).  First I thought of following the recipe as it was, but when I looked at the enormous pile of carrots that were supposed to be mixed in, I had to make a decision, and I cut the amount in half.  Half a cup of rice flour sounded ok for a very custardy and moist result, but I wanted more of a cake or quick bread texture, so I doubled the amount; this was the reasoning also for not melting the butter, but instead, start my update by creaming it with the egg yolks.  There is no specification on how much or what kind of  crystalized fruit to use, so I took it as an “optional” and omitted it.  Finally, I found it very interesting that the carrots are cooked in milk before adding to the batter, and that the recipe is gluten free, has no leavening agents, and it gives the cook the freedom to add “sugar or salt, to taste”, meaning it could work as a savoury baked good; in the spirit of the Mother’s Day cake approach, I chose sugar.   

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake –

Pastel de zanahoria (no gluten)

Printable recipe:  Gluten-Free Carrot Cake


1 lb (454 g) (about 3 cups) carrots; washed, peeled, ends removed and shredded
1 cup milk
2 eggs; whites and yolks separated
110 g (½ cup) unsalted butter; at room temperature
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 cup rice flour
1 tsp vanilla
100 g (½ cup) raisins

Prepare an 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pan or an 8×8-inch square pan by greasing with butter, then sprinkling to coat with about one tablespoon of sugar.  Reserve.

Pre-heat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

Place shredded carrots and milk in a pan over high heat, stirring to soak the carrots in the milk (photo below, left).  Cook for about five minutes, until the carrots are tender, but not falling apart (photo below, right):  


Beat egg whites in a bowl until foamy, then slowly add one tablespoon of sugar (photo below, left).  Continue beating, until the mix looks firm and glossy (photo below, right):


In a large mixing bowl, beat the rest of the butter and the egg yolks together until creamy, then incorporate one quarter of a cup of sugar (photo below, left).  Continue beating to dissolve sugar, then add reserved cooked carrots, along with the milk (photo below, right):

Add rice flour in two instalments, mixing at a lower speed, just until incorporated (photo below, left).  Scrape the walls of the bowl with a spatula, then add vanilla, raisins and reserved egg whites (photo below, right): 

Fold softly until a uniform batter is obtained.

Pour batter into prepared pan (photo below, left).  Bake in pre-heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean after inserted in the centre of the bread.  Remove from oven and allow to cool down for 10 to 15 minutes.  After baking, the cake did not rise much, but looked nicely set and slightly browned, cobbled with raisins here and there (photo below, right):

Cut into 10-12 wedges if using a round pan, or 16 squares, if using the square pan:

The flavour was distinctively custardy from the milk and eggs, with a pleasant contrast from the carrots and raisins.  As it may be appreciated in the photo, below, the texture is compact, but still very moist:

Seeing that this cake turned out nice, I might add it to my regular baking rotation, and even maybe be brave and stir the whole kilogram of carrots in next time, but for this year, I think it was a successful update of my mom’s recipe notes from a 70s TV show.

Remembering my mom this Mother’s day, and to all mothers, grandmothers and motherly figures in our lives,

Happy Mother’s Day!                ¡Feliz Día de las Madres!

I am bringing my recipe to Full Plate Thursday #588 with Miz Helen @ Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #540, with Bev @ Eclectic Red BarnPam @ An Artful MomKatherine @ Katherine’s CornerAmber @ Follow the Yellow Brick HomeTheresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.

I am joining Fiesta Friday #432 with Angie @ Fiesta Friday.


25 thoughts on “Mother’s Day – An Heirloom Recipe Updated

      1. zucchini is courgette, isn’t it?
        Dad used to fry them, mum used to get mad because of the mess he left her to clean.
        But I never heard of it in bread. I have to say, that sounds wrong too. It’s pretty tasteless, how do you bake it? Grated?


      2. I can imaging it is very high in water content. What is the texture like?

        My favourite – back in the day I used to fry up lardons and add them to my bread mix. But I did used to find I would eat a loaf in a single sitting, which wasn’t good :). Now, it’s wholemeal only and the amount is very strictly-controlled.


  1. That is a wonderful recipe for me, Irene, as I am gluten free. I was trying to find some crystallized fruit and angelica recently, to no avail, when I was making Pashka. Perhaps it is an outdated food in this country? I love angelica!


    1. Yeah, it might be a matter of personal taste; many baked goods recipes call for a pinch of salt, as a flavour enhancer, but I usually skip it; the original recipe for this cake specifically says “sugar or salt to taste”, and just “butter”, but I thought it was a considerable amount of butter for such a small batch, that it would be better to keep it neutral. For things like buttercream, for example, I really prefer no salt, but again, maybe just a matter of taste 🤷🏻‍♀️

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I can no longer eat rice. Do you think almond flour would work or just a plain rice free gluten free? I am also gluten free. I adore any kind of carrot cake, and the more carrots, the merrier! Such a sweet memory of your mother. A belated happy mother’s day.

    Liked by 1 person

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