Sunday, October 7, 2012

CAKES & VEGETABLES - PART I - CARROT - European-Style Carrot Cake

Today marks the start of my new October Series called “CAKES AND VEGETABLES”. The first vegetable to star in my series is the wonderful carrot. The carrot is a root vegetable and as a member of the parsley family related to the parsnip, celery and fennel. Eaten raw or briefly cooked, carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, carotene and potassium. Choose firm carrots and avoid those that are flabby with wilted green tops. Go for small carrots if you can, as they are more tender than large ones and need very little cooking.

Carrots come in different colors too. There are, of course, the bright orange ones, then yellow and purple ones. The purple ones are said to be the “original carrots”, meaning that today´s orange carrots probably resulted from a cross between the purple and the yellow carrots. I love the pronounced nutty taste of the purple variety, they are best used for a grated raw carrot salad for example. Carrots can be used not only in soups, stews and salads but also roasted, baked, juiced and puréed. And, of course, they are an excellent choice for adding them to muffins, cupcakes, cookies, breads, puddings and the most wonderful and widely beloved carrot cakes.

This recipe is one of my favorite cake recipes of all times, I love the combination of the grated carrot and the ground hazelnuts. The natural sweetness that this vegetable brings to any kind of baking is unsurpassed and just utterly delicious. The warm spices add a wonderful depth of flavor and autumnal warmness to this cake and it does keep serveral day if you wrap it well before decorating.

Recipe for European-Style Carrot Cake ("Möhrenkuchen - Rüeblitorte- Gelbe-Rüben-Torte")


  • 300 grams  (2 1/2 cups) ground hazelnuts (you can substitute almonds or use half almonds and half hazelnuts)
  • 4 eggs (L) free range or organic if possible, separated
  • one pinch of fine salt
  • 200 grams (1 1/2 cups) confectioner's sugar, divided in two portions of 100 grams (1/2 plus ¼ cup), sifted
  • zest from an orange (organic if possible)
  • 2 tbsp Kirsch * (Kirschwasser)
  • 25 grams (3 tbsp) starch (I always use potato starch)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I always use cinnamon from Ceylon)
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 package pure vanilla sugar (2 tsp pure vanilla extract can be substituted)
  • 8 medium carrots, finely grated  (about 2 cups when lightly packed)
  • a bit of soft butter for the baking pan
  • a bit of flour, bread crumbs or additional ground nuts for the baking pan
* Kirsch or Kirschwasser is a colorless Brandy made from the fermented juice of cherries. The Kirsch that I use in baking is from a local distillery called "Hausbrennerei Roth". To my great delight, I discovered their wonderful products at my favorite farmer´s store a few weeks ago.

Ingredients for the first Glaze

  • some apricot jam (homemade if possible)

Ingredients for the second Glaze

  • confectioner' s sugar
  • a bit of Kirsch and milk


  • marzipan decorations
  • 1 tbsp ground unsalted pistachios


  • a 23 centimeter (9 inch) spring form pan or other round cake pan
  • some parchment paper (unbleached if possible) for lining the spring form pan as well as a few strips to avoid drips while glazing the cake
  • soft bristled brush
  • strainer

Preparation of the Cake

1. Preheat your 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 or ground nuts 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 100 grams (1/2 plus ¼ cup of the sifted confectioner's sugar and continue to beat for a while until firm peaks form, set aside.
5. In another bowl, also with a whisk attachment, 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, ginger, 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 until no white streaks remain but do not over mix.
9. Carefully pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
10. Bake in the preheated oven for about 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes.
11. Remove the sides of the pan and cool completely on a wire rack, then remove the bottom of the spring form pan.
12. Transfer the cake to a cake platter for decorating.
13. Before you glaze the cake, place a few strips of parchment paper under the cake.

Preparation of the first and second Glaze and Decoration

1. In a small bowl, heat a few tablespoons of apricot jam, put it through a strainer and using a soft bristled brush, glaze the cake.
2. Let the apricot glaze set for a few minutes.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk some confectioner's sugar with one teaspoon of Kirsch and a bit of milk. You need a thick but still pourable consistency.
4. Pour the glaze over the cake. Let the second glaze set for a few minutes.
5.  Decorate with little marzipan decoration and ground unsalted pistachios.

This carrot cake contains no flour and no butter, it is a very moist and nutty cake with no heavy frosting – the decoration that I chose here is also optional, you could also leave this cake plain and serve it with a light dusting of confectioner´s sugar. Sometimes I chose to decorate this cake with marzipan carrots (please see my post of April 3, 2012) but when I came across these marzipan fruits in a sweet shop the other day, I thought that they would add a nice touch to my carrot cake and be a fitting decoration for the start of this series. Besides, my guests love nibbling on some marzipan with their slice of cake, we happily consume quite a bit of this wonderful confection in Germany.


Baking pan from "Kaiser" (
Marzipan from "Niederegger" (
Kirsch from "Bergische Hausbrennerei Roth"  (
Unsalted pistachios and hazelnuts from "Seeberger" (


  1. Mmmmm that's how I love it!
    Funny, yesterday I've made some carrot muffins <3
    Must be the season!

    Lovely decorations, Andrea - great post!

  2. Andrea, I´m LOVING your cake posts this last two months! You´re choosing excellent recipes and your baking skills shine on every post. This cake I will try to make soon, since it has no flour and uses hazelnuts which I love and think are very neglected. Have a great day!

  3. What a beautiful looking cake. Hazelnuts are a great addition to a carrot cake.

  4. Carrot cake is so delicious. Yours looks wonderful!

  5. What a gorgeous cake, Andrea! I haven't made a carrot cake in ages and I am bookmarking this one to try. I have never tried Kirsch, but have seen recipes that call for it and even have it on my list of things to buy. Now I will definitely pick some up.

  6. I am a carrot cake fanatic, and I love the thought of adding hazelnuts...what a unique way to add another complex layer of flavor. Thank you for sharing another delightful post and recipe. I hope you have a wonderful week, full of good food and laughter.

  7. What a spectacular cake!!! So beautifully garnished! I need to find some decent Kirsch...around here, all I can find is a cheap brand that tastes horrific. Maybe I need a trip to Germany to get the best of the best ;)

  8. sounds absolutely delicious!!

  9. "Cakes & Vegetables" sounds enticing! Your carrot cake is gorgeous! Beautiful job with the decoration.

  10. what a great combination! your cake is gorgeous!!!
    Mary x

  11. I'm so impressed by your European carrot cake! And how adorable... I love how you garnished the cake on top. No flour and no butter? Wow even healthier vegetable cake. The side shot shows how wonderfully moist inside in this cake! YUM!

  12. I am finally getting to read your Cakes & Vegetables Series. This cake looks amazing and nutritious. I like anything that has hazelnuts in it. My son-in-laws favorite cake is carrot and he would be crazy in love with the taste of this one. If he's really, really, really a good boy for the next few months, his mother-in-law just might have to make him this.