Tuesday, April 3, 2012
European-Style Carrot Cake
There are countless recipes for carrot cakes.
There are the North-American carrot cake recipes, of course, often times layered cakes with a cream cheese frosting. Then there are Swedish, Austrian, British, Swiss and German carrot cakes, to name but a few.
Over the years, I have baked my way through numerous recipes and have developed an undeniable liking for the North-American carrot cake with a nice thick cream cheese frosting. A lot of my friends have followed my lead and one day I was asked to bake one for a dessert buffet. Well, I agreed and in the end it was a hit but it was also quite a task to transport the finished cake 500 kilometers across the country, warm weather an all and all those cold packs strapped to the cake carrier.
But today, I am writing about a, lets call it european-style carrot cake that I have known since my early childhood. No oil, no butter, no cream cheese in my recipe, simply delicious. The Swiss have a saying "A carrot cake only tastes really good three days after it was baked". I do not know about those three days but I do know that it does keep well for a few days and that flavors do improve with time.
Recipe for Eurpean-Style Carrot Cake
(this cake can be baked in a 9 inch (23 centimeter) springform pan or other round cake pan
4 large eggs, separated
1 pinch of fine sea salt
200 g (1 1/2 cups) confectioner's sugar, divided in two parts and sifted
2 tbsp Kirsch
25 g (3 tbsp) starch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, from Ceylon if possible
1/8 tsp ground cloves
zest from an orange ( organic if possible)
1 package pure vanilla sugar (2 tsp pure vanilla extract can be substituted)
8 medium carrots, finely grated (about 2 cups when lightly packed)
Some apricot jam, confectioner' s sugar, Kirsch and milk.
Small marzipan carrots, ground unsalted pistachio, slivered almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (355 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Butter and flour your baking pan. If you line the pan with parchment paper, butter and flour that as well or substitute finely ground bread crumbs for the flour.
3. Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor until finely ground.
4. In the bowl of your mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form. Then add half the sifted confectioner's sugar and continue to beat for a few seconds.
5. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the other half of the confectioner's sugar, the orange zest and the Kirsch until the mixture is thick and pale yellow ( if you are using vanilla extract, add it now).
6. To the ground hazelnuts add the starch, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla sugar.
7. Switch to a spatula and add the nut mixture, alternating with the grated carrots, to the egg mixture.
8. Fold in the egg white mixture.
9. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
10. Bake in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes.
11. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
For the glaze
(optional, you can serve the cake also with a dusting of confectioner's sugar)
1. In a small bowl, heat a few tablespoons of apricot jam, put it through a strainer and glaze the cake. Let the apricot glaze set for a few minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk some confectioner's sugar with one teaspoon of Kirsch and a bit of milk.
3. Pour the glaze over the cake. Let the second glaze set for a few minutes and decorate with little marzipan carrots, ground unsalted pistachios, or slivered almonds.