For Brock's birthday this year, I accepted the overdue challenge of recreating a gluten-free version of his favorite carrot cake recipe. When I shared on Instagram about this cake, I received multiple messages asking for the recipe, so I thought it would be simplest to share here. At the end of this post, there's a place to receive the recipe! I sure hope you enjoy it!
If you haven't been around our table before, here's a little background. I used to bake a carrot cake, full of delectable gluten, that made non-carrot cake lovers (myself included), quickly change our minds! It was divine. I have plenty of testimonies to confirm this truth.
Since I was a little girl I enjoyed baking, but my love for it grew exponentially when my two oldest children were toddlers. My memories of this season include countless trips to Costco to purchase gigantic bags of flour and sugar. I hauled bag, after 50lb bag, up a flight of stairs and somehow found space in our tiny apartment to store it.
During that season my heart wrestled through the disappointment of unexpected transitions, releasing a successful career, and new, hard realities. Working with my hands to knead the perfect dough, for chocolate chip biscuits and such, eased my soul and led me to pray.
I even created a mantra to solidify my purpose:
"Bake and Pray."
And, that is exactly what I did.
This was a life-giving process for me. In fact, during a specifically tumultuous week, I baked an abundance of coconut cream and chocolate icebox pies, determined to create the perfect crust. In usual "Brave-style," my son perceived an opportunity and capitalized on it.
Entering the kitchen with multiple stuffed animals in his arms, he declared it was their birthdays and they each needed a pie to celebrate! Placing a candle inside pie after pie, we sang happy birthday to beloved teddy bears. And, we ate a lot of pie. Brave's joy for life eased my heaviness.
This sweet memory became a healing balm to my heart. It taught me that we can still celebrate others in the midst of our own painful seasons. And, when participating in another's joy, we are refreshed and reminded of God's faithfulness. This realigns the posture of our soul with God's heart.
"A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed."
Proverbs 11:25 NIV
A few years ago our family transitioned, for health reasons, to a gluten-free lifestyle. Our health improved significantly and we do not crave the same foods we easily justified eating in the past. However, it was immediately apparent that learning my way around a (mostly) Paleo-friendly kitchen would be a process in itself. I mean, I was the woman buying the Costco-sized bags of flour and refined sugar, mind you.
After two years of persistent learning and the laborious application of cooking this way, I burnt myself out. So, I took a kitchen break. During that pause, I eventually meandered my way back into the kitchen, not to cook dinner (sorry, husband), but for a different reason.
Sensing new transitions on the horizon, my soul longed to "bake and pray" once again.
This time I experimented with transforming beloved recipes of our gluten-past into creations we can enjoy now. My attempts to recreate these recipes ended in many failed batches at first. I would tweak one step and the result would be worse than the prior batch.
THE OLD WAY? It's easier. It's quicker. It's CHEAPER by FAR. Errors are easy to cover up or fix. The food bakes in a fraction of the time and is ready to eat immediately.
THE NEW WAY? It requires more preparation, trials, and the procurement of new ingredients and tools. After completing the set time in the oven, most baked goods must rest for two to four hours before being sliced and enjoyed. Resting is an essential component to complete the full process.
Growing frustrated with my trial and errors, I wanted to call it quits...especially since I’m no professional at this anyways.
Suddenly, God alleviated the pressure with His words,
"Failures and false starts won't leave a mark."
I've felt the sting of failures and false starts, outside of my kitchen, over and over again. I began naming out-loud, one by one, every single one that came to my mind while cleaning up countertops covered in cassava flour.
"Father, You guided me to start "that," say "that," accept "that," or release "that." What was the point of this? Much of what I consider "failure" the world sees as success and what I deem "successful" the world sees as a failure.“
"When the fruitful outcome is unseen and you’re left feeling misunderstood, remember those starts, failures, and endings ushered you closer to my heart.”
"Yes, Father. The tension of this is hard to bear at times. Yet, deep within I perceive how these very things were the mechanism that stretched my soul to discover You in new ways."
"And Daughter, you don't need to perform for Me. Rest and receive. Behold my Majesty weaved into your creativity."
My Friend, may His love rinse away the leftover residue, lingering from failures and false starts, from our heart. Seeking to unify old methods with the new course we are purposed to embrace will lead to frustration. For familiar ways won't cooperate in the new rhythm we've been placed in. The new, fresh song we are eager to sing is held in freedom and intimacy. May we choose to participate, not forfeit, our place in God's Kingdom. And may we remember...
"I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God."
Psalm 27:13-14 MSG
P.S. Perhaps next up in the "bake and pray" department is recreating a homemade strawberry cake I use to bake for Easter Sunday. Yep. Don't see any reason to overthink this decision.