I’ve already attempted to make carrot cake. Twice. And as you’ve probably guessed, I failed, twice.
I obviously wouldn’t have written that first sentence if I didn’t. But now you know that after more than 5 years of non-stop baking, I do sometimes fail at doing things that I’m used to doing. And yes, life lessons can be learned from baking. Such as, ‘try again but use a different recipe’. And ‘don’t give up, just please use a different recipe’. Or ‘don’t hang on to something that’s bad for you, so just use the other damn recipe’. So after this short list of valuable life lessons which I’m sure of that you can use in your wonderful daily lives, I can tell you that I used a different recipe, and I finally succeeded!
While I was writing this philosophical masterpiece on life lessons, a dear friend of mine, Tali, asked me a rather interesting question that sparked my lacking flow of inspiration. The question was the following: ‘Why don’t you write something about the history of the carrot cake? I mean, I’m interested in who’s idea it was to put a carrot in a cake.’ And I have to admit, I felt like reading a weird story for a change. So I did some research. And I was a little bit disappointed… No crazy history à la roquefort, but I did found out about the existence of a carrot museum!
So no one actually knows how the carrot cake was created precisely. During the middle ages it seemed that sugar and other sweeteners were quite difficult to come by, and rather expensive too. So they used carrots as an alternative sweetener for desserts. Can you imagine using carrots as a sweetener because there’s no sugar available? I can’t… But if I’d ever wanted to get rid of my addiction to sugar, I’d definitely timetravel to the middle ages and wear lots of crinolines and corsets, and eat carrots in stead of sugar.
- 100 g pecans or walnuts, roasted and chopped
- 350 g carrots, finely grated (the texture has to be almost mushy)
- 260 g all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 & 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 4 eggs
- 300 g granulated sugar
- 240 ml vegetable oil (you can also use peanut oil, but don’t use any strong flavored oil like olive oil)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 60 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 230 g cream cheese, room temperature
- 115 g powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon or orange zest, finely grated (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and place a rack in the center of the oven. Butter two 23 cm cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with a circle of parchment paper. Toast the pecans or walnuts for about 8 minutes or until lightly brown and fragrant. Let them cool and then chop them coarsely.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Peel and finely grate the carrots.
- Beat the eggs together until frothy for about 1 minute, and gradually add the sugar. Keep beating for about 3 – 4 minutes, until the batter is thick and light colored. Add the oil to the batter in a steady stream and then beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Fold in the carrots and chopped nuts with a rubber spatula, and evenly divide the mixture between the two prepared pans. Bake the two cakes 25 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- For the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter with a wooden spatula, until combined. Gradually add the powdered sugar, the vanilla extract and lemon zest until fully incorporated.
- To assemble the cake, remove the parchment paper from the cooled cakes and place one cake layer onto your serving plate. Spread one side with half the frosting and gently place the cake onto the other one. Spread the rest of the frosting over the top of the other cake. If desired, you can garnish the frosting on top of the cake with toasted nuts.
This cake serves approximately 8 -10 portions and can be stored for quite a long time (about 4 -5 days) because of the use of oil instead of butter
Pictures taken by myself (and I know they’re kinda askew; by the way, you should type ‘askew’ in to Google and see what happens 🙂 ) , and very slowly uploaded by my brother.
Special thanks to Tali for the sudden flow of inspiration and a non-thank you to my carrot grate for trying to grate of my skin.