Carrot Cake, French-Style

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This was an interesting cake to make. It was a joint creation between my French classmate and I for our presentation on David Lebovitz. He explains it better, but this cake is French because it originated from Provence. The French are very traditional with their desserts, and adding vegetable to cakes is quite unusual for them. This cake was handed around in class, and garnered pretty positive responses. The texture is less cake-like and more like a soft granola bar, due to the almond chunks. It’s like a Rice Krispie in terms of density and airiness. The carrots, although brightly coloring the cake, tasted unobtrusive and I thought the true star were the almond pieces that provided a nutty chew.

Making this would be substantially easier with a food processor or pre-chopped almonds. The grated carrots need to be relatively fine too. We had altered the original recipe by doubling up on the grated carrot, but since our almond chunks were larger than “relatively fine”, it still did not taste or feel distinctly vegetable-y. Overall, this was a very easy recipe to make up, and worth trying if you’re into almonds and/or carrots.

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Carrot Cake, French-Style
Makes 1 9×9 inch cake
Adapted from David Lebovitz

4 tablespoons butter, unsalted, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (250g) sugar
pinch of salt
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups (225g) toasted almonds
2/3 cup (90g) flour
1/4 cup, packed, (40g) finely grated carrot

1. Preheat the oven to 325F (160C). Butter two shallow 10-inch (23cm) cake pans and line each with a circle of parchment paper. Then lightly butter the top of each circle of paper.

2. Beat the butter, sugar and salt until smooth.

3. Meanwhile, pulverize the nuts and flour in a food processor or blender until relatively fine, but not powdery. If you don’t have a machine, simply chop the nuts by hand and toss them with the flour.

3. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Afterwards, stir in the ground nut mixture and the carrots, mixing just until smooth.

4. Divide the batter into the pans, smooth it evenly, and bake for 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool, then release the cake from the pans and cut in wedges to serve.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I don’t make carrot cakes very often, but when I do, I grate the hell out of a carrot and make sure it’s one moist cake. I happened to have a carrot lying around, and although I usually roast my carrots, I wanted to have my veggies in a slightly more delicious form: coupled with more carbs and fat. Carbs and fat makes anything taste better.

This cake, apart from the tedious grating of carrot, is really easy to make. I really like oil-based cake because it means I don’t have to cream butter and sugar. Everything’s just a simple swirl and mix with a silicone spatula. It’s really moist and I think this is a great base recipe. I used extra virgin olive oil because that’s all I had around, and I also omitted the ginger and nutmeg spices that the original recipe had. It still turned out pretty good, though. I still have trouble frosting a cake perfectly, but here’s what I think would help: freeze the cake, and chill the frosting for long enough so that everything stays firm.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 1 two-layer 9-inch cake

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil (I used EVOO with no problems)
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots
1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter and flour two 9 inch round pans.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins, if using them.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and bake the layers for about 40 minutes each, or until a tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Cool cakes completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting
From AllRecipes

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.