More commonly known as an ingredient in Japanese soba noodles or caviar-topped Russian blinis, buckwheat is prized for its distinctly nutty flavour. It is also great for gluten-free baking – despite its name, buckwheat is not a form of wheat and does not contain gluten. Available as groats, flakes and flour, it can be used to add flavour and texture to a variety of bakes – I use the flour here for the carrot cake, and caramelise the triangular groats for a crunchy topping.
30ml orange juice
170g buckwheat flour
150g light muscovado sugar
50g almond meal
1 tsp (gluten-free) baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ginger powder
150ml vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g carrots, grated
For the icing
90g light muscovado sugar
200ml pure cream, cold
pinch sea salt
For the buckwheat praline
2 tbsp buckwheat groats
2 tbsp castor sugar
1. Combine raisins and orange juice in a small jar. Leave on kitchen bench to macerate.
2. Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan-forced). Grease and line a loaf tin (30cm x 20cm; about 1-kilogram capacity) with baking paper, allowing an overhang on the sides to help you lift the cake out later.
3. Place flour, sugar, almond meal, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and ginger powder in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
4. In another, medium-sized bowl, whisk the oil, eggs and vanilla extract, then pour into the dry ingredients. Add the grated carrot and raisins (including orange juice) and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. Scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf tin.
5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning it out onto a cake rack. When the cake is completely cool, transfer to serving plate.
6. While the cake is in the oven, prepare the icing: combine the 90g muscovado sugar and 60ml of the cream in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved – about a minute. Increase the heat a little and simmer for three minutes. Remove from heat, add butter and sea salt and stir until butter is melted. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and allow to cool before placing in the fridge. When quite cold, place the mixture in the bowl of a cake mixer, add the remaining 140ml cream (which should be cold) and whisk until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until you're ready to ice the cake.
7. To make the praline, line a small baking tray with baking paper and set aside. Place the buckwheat groats in a small, dry frying pan and shake gently over low-medium heat until they just begin to take on some colour – about three minutes. Tip the groats out onto a plate.
8. Return the still-warm frying pan onto a medium heat. Add the castor sugar and gently swirl the pan so the sugar melts evenly. Keep swirling and tilting the pan as the sugar begins to melt so that it caramelises evenly. When it turns amber and just begins to smoke a little, remove from heat and stir in the toasted buckwheat groats. Tip the mix onto the lined baking tray and allow to cool completely before breaking up into small pieces. Store in an airtight container until ready to sprinkle on cake.
9. Spread the top of the cooled cake with the icing and sprinkle with the praline.
Find more of Helen Goh's recipes in the Good Food Favourite Recipes cookbook.