This lovely little Gâteau aux Carottes – (Carrot Cake) is inspired by a recipe from Pierre Hermé, the famous French pastry chef and chocolatier. Back in 2013, we baked the wonderful 'Sablés aux Olives Noires Pierre Hermé - Pierre Hermé´s Black Olive Sablés' for the French Fridays with Dorie Group (FFwD - link here) and we loved the recipe. Today, I am presenting another of his countless recipes, a simple Carrot Cake. As a matter of fact, I love Carrot Cakes, the classic European version with a simple glaze that I blogged about in the past (go here for the recipe) and occasionally also the British or American, double-layer version with lots of grated carrots, nuts and sultanas or raisins and slathered with cream cheese frosting and finished with a topping of candied carrots, chopped walnuts or pecans, a rather indulgent treat.
The first thing that caught my attention when I saw this recipe, was its simplicity - petite cakes with few but quality ingredients and big on taste, always interest me. And this Carrot Cake delivers. It is easy to make and superbly delicious and it contains just a few ingredients - its taste and texture depend upon the quality of the ingredients that you choose to use for the recipe. If possible, use organic carrots and eggs, maybe farm fresh eggs, use a good mild oil here and buy your nuts at a place with a high turnover and grind them yourself just before adding to the batter. As far as the vanilla and cinnamon are concerned, these two ingredients were added by me to the recipe - I like to use homemade vanilla sugar and organic Ceylon cinnamon which has a warm taste and will not overpower the other ingredients. These two additions are a nice compliment to the flavors - leave them out if you wish.
One last remark with respect to these adorable and delicious 'Simple Cakes' (as I like to refer to them), if you can get hold of a small fancy baking pan, get it and then use it! Simple cakes look even more appealing when you use an unusual baking pan. After all, as the saying goes - you eat with your eyes first!
Gâteau aux Carottes - Carrot Cake
(inspired by Le Larousse des Desserts de Pierre Hermé, Larousse, first published in 1997, latest ed. from 2006)
Ingredients for the Cake
- 2 eggs (M), farm fresh, organic and/or free range
- 100g powdered sugar, sifted
- 4g pure vanilla sugar (use homemade if you have some on hand) - not in the original recipe
- 50g all purpose (plain) flour (around here I use 'type 405'), plus some for flouring the pan
- 10g baking powder
- ¼ tsp cinnamon (I like to use organic Ceylon cinnamon) - not in the original recipe
- 60 g finely ground hazelnuts (grind both types of nuts just before making the cake)
- 70 g finely ground almonds
- a pinch of fine sea salt
- 250g carrots (washed, trimmed and peeled you will end up with 200g finely grated carrots, about 3 medium ones), try to use organic carrots
- 25 ml vegetable oil (I like to use sunflower oil)
- PLUS: some unsalted, room temperature butter for greasing the pan
- about 2 heaping tsp apricot jam, heated and strained - not in the original recipe
- a few chopped natural pistachios
- OR: use a bit of powdered sugar for a simple yet elegant dusting
- Pre-heat your oven to 180° C (356°F).
- Using a pastry brush, butter and flour your baking pan carefully, turn the pan upside down and shake out any excess flour (I used a small baking pan - a light-colored, non-stick metal pan works best).
- In a large bowl, with a hand-held mixer, whisk the eggs with the powdered sugar and vanilla sugar until the mixture becomes white and fluffy (or do by hand with a large whisk).
- In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, both typs of ground nuts and salt.
- Switching from the mixer to a spatula or large spoon (wooden or metal), add the flour mixture to the egg mixture.
- Then add half the the grated carrots to the mixture, then the oil and then the remaining carrots and stir just until combined. Do not whisk.
- Pour into your prepped cake pan, level and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
- Once the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, take it out of the oven, place it on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes, then carefully loosen from the pan and while still warm brush the apricot glaze evenly over the surface of the cake (optional). If you like, you can sprinkle the finished cake with a bit of chopped pistachios.
- Let cool completely and serve - if you have chosen not to glaze the cake, dust with a bit of powdered sugar just before serving. NOTE: this Carrot Cake keeps well for a few days, if you keep it covered and in a cool place.
Nothing beats a simple little Carrot Cake - whether you're enjoying it with your as 'Breakfast Cake' with your morning coffee, afternoon tea or just fancy a treat.