The carrot cake that almost started an angry mob

Carrot cake with pistachios and walnuts

Carrot cake with pistachios and walnuts

About two weeks ago, I met an American from Michigan who moved to New Zealand and unexpectedly became a Kiwi farmer. In 2009, he started a WordPress blog called Moon Over Martinborough to chronicle their life in the farm which eventually led to a best-selling book of the same title. Carrot cake everyone wants is the most enticing story behind a recipe that I’ve ever read. It teaches you a lesson about sharing your most beloved recipes, unless you want an angry mob of pitchfork-carrying farmers at your door.

Carrot cake with pistachios and walnuts

I baked the gluten-free version of “Dave’s carrot cake” and dedicated it to Sir Poppy Dick, my love partner’s dad who celebrated his birthday recently. To give it my personal finishing touch, I prettified it with crushed pistachios. The cake was incredibly rich and moist that I decided to keep it in the freezer. JD and I would take a slice or two once a day and we’re happy. You can find the recipe here:

But before you go, I wanted to share a recipe on how I transformed some unappetizing food images into delectable-looking ones. It is the middle of Autumn in New Zealand and natural lighting is becoming hard to come by. It gets dark early. This shot was taken at 4PM. The blue tone bewildered me. I had to do something about it!

Before and After in Lightroom

The best white-balanced gluten-free carrot cake in the world


  • a digital camera that lets you shoot images in RAW format
  • some carrots
  • some cashews
  • some pistachios for garnishing
  • a nice-looking carrot cake (I took out a big slice for a glimpse of its moistness)
  • a white handmade paper to use as tabletop cover
  • diffused natural lighting (as natural as you can get, no flash please!)
  • a strange looking fork (optional)
  • and last but not least, the amazing photo-editing software called Lightroom


  1. Preheat your camera to F4 for 1/320 sec. Don’t hesitate to bump up your ISO. As long as you shoot in RAW, Lightroom will take care of the rest.
  2. Prop up your tabletop. Place the hero where it needs to be.
  3. Give it your best shot. Download in Lightroom.
  4. First, fix the bland bluish taste. If you change the temperature from blue to yellow, the whole dish is affected. You don’t want the cake to turn yellow so to isolate the cake, use the Mask tool.
  5. Once you’ve masked the cake, move the Temp slider to the right until you get the right color of the tabletop, which is white. Adjust the Exposure and Shadows to taste.
    Mask tool in Lightroom
  6. Second, fix the cake. Use the Brush tool next to the Mask tool to cover the whole cake. Adjust the Exposure and Shadows until you get the right consistency.
  7. Export the image and turn off the heat from your computer.

Serves you well. Enjoy!

Carrot cake with pistachios and walnuts



About Dolly Rubiano

I am passionate about photography and food is my favourite subject. I like shooting people too, especially when they’re not looking. I am a regular contributor as photographer to FishHead magazine, a local lifestyle magazine in Wellington, New Zealand. I blog about my experiments in the kitchen and don't cook anything that has four legs. Please get in touch if you would like to work with me regarding food styling and photography. View all posts by Dolly Rubiano

10 responses to “The carrot cake that almost started an angry mob

  • Mom Betty

    Miss Dolly…what a gorgeous final picture of a fabulous cake. Thank you for baking a cake for Sir Poppy as he had Tiramisu with a candle in it for his Birthday Cake.

    • Dolly Rubiano

      Did he bake the tiramisu? Or was it a gift from the restaurant where you dined?

      • Lady Betty

        Hi Miss Dolly….I didn’t see your question until just now! The tiramisu was given to Sir Poppy by Raquel and Nick and the kids. They brought four LARGE pieces just for us! It is one of my favorite desserts. Have you every made it??

  • ladyredspecs

    I tried an development evaluation copy of Lightroom a quite few years ago. I loved it but couldn’t come at the price Adobe were asking. It has a nice job of your pic, and you’ve done a great job of the cake! I’m not much of a cake eater, but I love carrot cake, this looks a fine specimen

    • Dolly Rubiano

      You can download the free version, Sandra. When it expires after a month, you can download it again. But you need to uninstall the previous version. Not sure if it will still remember, though, and prevent you from using the free version again. I bought it because I use it in my work. I am not much of a cake eater (and a baker) myself, but a gooey cake is always welcome in my belly!

  • Welcome Company with Danielle

    Absolutely gorgeous finished photo! I really need to learn to use my camera to it’s fullest potential. And my photo editing software too. Thankfully I live in Arizona with lots and lots of natural light!

  • Jared

    Not only did you do that carrot cake recipe proud, you did amazing things with that photo! I’m so impressed.

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