Friday, April 19, 2013

IHCC: Get back to your roots!

Roots roots roots. These being things we like, I had options for a couple of different rooty salads this week. But there never seemed to be a time when such a salad was needed or there wasn't enough time to get it made. For tonight's dinner, it seemed like a dessert might be in order and there were lots of carrots to use, so the rooty solution was Carrot and Walnut Cake from Ottolenghi (p200).

When I made my first trip through this book, I was actually a little put off by this recipe and it didn't get a sticky. Somehow a carrot cake where you separate the eggs and fold in the beaten egg whites seems a bit much. It didn't look like the kind of fine-structured cake that you usually get when you fold in egg white. My old standard carrot cake doesn't need that and is still really good. But, thinking of something for a sweet treat this evening, I thought I'd give it a try anyhow.

The recipe asks for a 20cm springform pan. For some reason I seem to have accumulated three 24cm springform pans and no other sizes. (One of these was a gift from a cheesecake-making friend, another I picked up at a charity second-hand shop to leave at this house before we moved here, but where did the third one come from? I really ought to remedy this situation before long.) But an 8in cake pan, more or less the same diameter, works just as well, if not better. To be honest, I'm not really sure why this cake needs a springform pan at all.

For the making, this is a fairly ordinary, if fussy, cake recipe. Stir together (sift only if you really feel the need) the dry ingredients—flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Whisk a whole egg and an egg yolk. Beat together some vegetable oil and sugar*, then add the whisked egg-and-a-half. Finally, stir in some chopped walnuts, coconut, grated carrots, and then the dry ingredients.

* Since we tend to like our sweets not so sweet, I used only 200g sucre de canne (a natural brown sugar with a bit of flavor oomph), where 270g sugar was asked. Ed thought this was fine, I thought it was a trifle short, and might use 210g or 220g if I make this again.

Then beat two egg whites (yay, one from the freezer!) with a pinch of salt until they make firm peaks, and fold them into the batter. Pour the batter into your cake pan (lined, like my mother taught me, with a circle of "waxed" paper) and put it in the oven at 170C for about an hour, maybe a smidge longer.

The icing is cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and honey. I stirred the toasted, chopped walnuts into the icing rather than sprinkling them on top. My standard cream cheese icing uses equal portions of cream cheese and butter; the ratio for this icing is 2.5:1, making it a bit lighter perhaps. The honey was an interesting addition.

We liked this variation on a carrot cake, although I can't say it was all that much better than my old standard recipe. But it is nice that it's just a single layer, which makes it easier for two people to finish off before it starts getting stale.

This post is shared with this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs.


  1. Hi Kaye,
    Your carrot cake looks delicious! A great idea to use up all the extra carrots in the fridge! I would reduce the sugar too, just like you did, as we do not like very sweet cakes.
    Wish you a lovely week ahead!

  2. I love that you made a sweet recipe for roots week. I must say that I have a major sweet tooth and desserts are my one downfall. I love a good carrot cake. Although this one seems a bit fussy, it does look delicious. I'd love to sneak a bite for breakfast just now.

  3. I wouldn't have thought of sweets for this week. Good call! Carrot cake is not something I make often. Could probably count on one hand the number of times I've made it. This does look good and I can see the benefit of 1 layer. I'm really interested honey being used. But not so interested in folding in beaten egg whites. Ha ha!

  4. I love carrot cake and I love the nice thick layer of icing that you have on this one! ;-) A great pick for root vegetable week.

  5. I love carrot cake, and this one looks great Kaye. Like, Deb, I love that nice thick layer of cream cheese roasting on top :-)

    Interestingly, Nigel Slater also separates the eggs and whisks the whites in his carrot cake recipe. I'm thinking that, if two of my favourite chefs favour this method, I obviously need to give this a try.