There's a lot I love about the way my American friends celebrate special occasions. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Baby Showers. What ever the event, you can be sure they don't go about it halfheartedly.
So you can't even imagine my excitement when my best friend- our muffin’s future God mama / the sunny Californian Britney- offered to throw me and Elliot a Gender Reveal Party!
For those not in the know what this party entails, here’s the gist:
Mum-and-dad-to-be get their 20 week scan and if the sonographer can see the baby’s sex, they don’t tell you, but write down Boy or Girl on a piece of paper, seal it in an envelope and you then pass it on to a friend who is throwing you the surprise party, where you and your guests find out what you are having at the same time. This could be with a treasure hunt, quiz night, blue or pink coloured balloons, etc etc. Fun, right?
I’ve always loved the idea of finding out in this way (we’re both too impatient to wait nine months), however before Britney took over, I thought we would organise this on our own. We were supposed to get the secret envelope to one of my raw chefs at Tanya’s, who would then take a look inside and make us either a blueberry cheesecake (blue for boy) or strawberry cheesecake (pink for girl), then coat it in white icing with absolutely no sign of what colour is inside. Then Elliot and I would slice open the cake with all of our friends in the room.
But! Britney does everything better!
She made sure not to give away any clues and said to leave it with her. The only clue she was willing to give away was that the reveal wasn’t to be via a cake, so if I wanted to make one of my own, then it’s my call, otherwise she had the food and drink sorted too. Wowsers. That’s a whole lot of work, time and effort and even from your closest friend, it just feels like too much to accept.
Of course I could never turn up empty handed or leave a friend to do all the work, so I promised to bring a cake. Two cakes- one for each gender.
So I gathered my recipes and a plan to make it happen, but the day of the reveal also coincided with my actual birthday and Better Raw’s annual sale, so the evening was approaching faster than anticipated. By the time I calculated how long it would take me to shop for ingredients, soak the cashews, make, decorate and leave both cakes to set in the fridge, I knew I’d be hours late to my own party…
Slightly panicked, I dove into my 20 year old recipe notebook for ideas.
Crazy to think that I still own a book so old, torn and well-travelled, half of which is filled with carefully written recipes and instructions in Russian by my 10 year old self and the other half with a whole lot of scribbles in English after I began to learn the language in New Zealand. What’s crazier is that the recipes within it either use a bunch of animal products, processed ingredients or both. Still, this is a place I like to refer to for ideas and where best inspiration comes from when creating my healthy recipe versions.
As soon as I flicked to the page with my once-upon-a-time-favourite carrot cake, I knew I had to make it. It’s baked, which requires no setting time in the fridge, so it had to save me at least 3 hours and desperate times were upon us.
There’s one problem- I haven’t baked for over 6 years!
Actually there's more than one problem- the recipe contained eggs, processed sugar and other ingredients I haven't used in over 6 years either!
But then again, I checked out my notebook for inspiration, not the recipe per se, so I took out all the healthy versions of listed ingredients from my pantry and started up a science experiment to invent 'vegan eggs’. I used a little banana for the ’slimy’ part of the egg, ground flaxseeds for the ’sticky’ part which holds ingredients together and coconut yogurt to make it ‘mushy’. It didn't take long to invent, however having not baked in such a long time, I completely forgot the fact that there is baking AND cooling time involved before icing the cake, so we were still late to our own party afterall. The cake was AMAZING though!
Recipe below, but first, the remainder of the story…
We arrived at Tanya’s in Chelsea, where a portion of the cafe was reserved just for our group and decorated in the most adorable blue and pink colour palette. There was really nothing to give away the gender at that stage though- Britney made sure to have an equal ratio of blue to pink for everything.
We had such a good time catching up with all our friends, that I didn’t even notice how nervous I was until she called everyone to start making their way downstairs.
Downstairs? What is down there? This was the time I dialled in my parents in Ecuador and my sister in New York via Skype and Elliot FaceTime’d his mum in New Zealand, so our families could partake in the fun.
When our whole group entered myhotel’s darkened meeting room, we were impressed to see rows of chairs facing a large projector screen. Elliot and I knew it already, but this is when everyone else saw just how lucky we were to have a friend that would go through all this trouble. And this was before we even knew what she actually did!
When the movie showing begun, the first video was of the God mama herself introducing what was about to happen in the most hilarious way, followed by video clips of our friends around the world sending their well wishes and vocalising their bets (and even names) on what we were having. When I say ‘around the world’, I mean around the world! Friends from New Zealand, Australia, Ecuador, New York, California, Japan, London, Portugal and even Bangkok, sent in their video predictions for us to watch.
I wasn’t just blown away, I was an emotional wreck! Every familiar face appearing on the screen in front of us made me gasp for air. Then hearing them speak directly to us or to our baby was more than enough to make my eyes swell and my legs shake.
By the time Britney appeared on the screen again to do the final reveal, I was so overwhelmed with emotion, gratitude, anticipation, love, nerves and adrenaline, I was no longer sure that I was ready to know. When she said that this wasn’t the way we’d find out and that we now all had to go upstairs and look for a unicorn, I didn’t know who I was relieved for the most- me, because I got an opportunity to gather myself or my family, because they could now continue watching without the shaky experience they were getting when the laptop was on my trembling lap.
The parents and the God parents
The Unicorn Piñata
The rest was such a blissful blur, that I still don’t really remember where the unicorn piñata was or how it was split in half over my and Elliot’s heads or the details of what (or even what colour) fell out from inside, or who clapped first when the gender was revealed, but I’ll never forget searching my husband’s eyes for his reaction and thinking what an amazing dad he would be to a…. baby girl!
A girl! A girl! We are having a baby girl!
And I’ll never forget what Britney did for us. This little love bug inside my belly has already been so cherished and celebrated from the first day of discovering she was there, but she has no idea how lucky she really is with all the loving grandparents, aunties, uncles, God parents, and not to mention mum and dad, awaiting her arrival.
It's a girl!
And now the recipe! I asked on Facebook and Instagram if you guys were interested in a baked vegan cake recipe and to my surprise, the majority said 'Absolutely'! So here you are. It really is so delicious and using the best ingredients, I think you'll love it too..
Baked Vegan Carrot Cake
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup light olive oil
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 cups wholemeal flour (I used spelt)
2 cups coconut palm sugar
EGGS (1/2 banana, 1 cup soy/coconut yogurt, 1/2 cup ground flaxseeds)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp Himalayan salt
2 tsp baking soda
-Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.
– Blend oil and sugar.
– Add banana, yogurt, vanilla extract. Blend again.
– In a bowl- mix flour, ground flaxseeds, cinnamon, salt and soda.
– Add carrots and walnuts, then mix.
– Finally stir in the blended mix, scraping everything out of your blender. Stir well to combine ingredients evenly.
– Transfer to a 8 inch tin and bake for 1 hour.