Winter calls for Carrot Cake!
Today [February 3rd] happens to be National Carrot Cake Day. Whatever the occasion, this American dessert is a simple yet decadent indulgence that requires no special reason. 😋
Old World Food
Carrots have been an integral part of cuisines around the world. This is most likely attributed to European settlers, nay colonizers. They introduced carrots to the Americas.
What makes carrots an Old World food? There’s historical evidence that suggests Arab cooks back in the 10th century were among the first to use this root in their cooking. Makes sense, since a couple of centuries later the Mughals introduced Halva to the Indian subcontinent. [Gajar ka Halwa is my absolute favorite of all Indian desserts.]
Back in the West during the Middle Ages, carrots were used as sweeteners, since sugar [specifically came sugar] was scarce and fucking expensive. Carrots were used to prepare sweet cakes and puddings.
Carrot pudding recipes appeared in British cookbooks throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The carrot cake was revived when the British Ministry of Food rationed it to the soldiers during the Second World War.
Across the ditch [the Atlantic], the recipe for a carrot cake first appeared in a 1929 Kansas woman’s club cookbook. It was, however, not until the second half of the 20th century that the dessert catapulted to its current popularity. The rest, as they say, is history.
Sensory Indulgence at its finest
Only a handful desserts can be compared to the carrot cake in terms of indulgence. Sweet, fragrant carrots with a light bite, the crunch of the chopped walnuts, and the slight citrusy richness of the cream cheese – what else can a guy ask for? [A little booze, that’s my answer.]
Most recipes suggest that vegetable oil is to be used. Not me – I’ve substituted it for melted butter. If you wanna indulge, do it the right way. 😉Here’s my recipe for the ultra-moist carrot cake.
Ultra-Moist Carrot Cake
a) Carrot Cake
- 4 eggs
- 125g butter
- 125 brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
- 2 teaspoons ginger powder
- 100mL buttermilk
- 400g carrots
- 125g walnuts
- 250g flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 50g pistachios, for garnish [optional]
b) Cream Cheese Frosting
- 300g cream cheese
- 30g butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 500g Icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 170C.
- Grease and line two 7″ round springform cake tins.
- Clean, peel and grate the carrots.
- Toast the walnuts in a hot pan. Let cool and chop. Chop the pistachios, set aside for garnish.
- Sift together the flour and baking powder. Gently melt the butter in a saucepan. [If using a microwave, melt it in 10-second intervals.]
a) Carrot Cake
- In a large bowl, beat together the melted butter and brown sugar.
- Crack in one egg at a time, whisking well after each addition.
- Pour in the buttermilk and vanilla extract, mix well.
- Add the carrots, chopped walnuts, cinnamon and ginger powder, mix well using a spatula.
- Gently fold in the flour with the spatula. Pour the batter into the lined tins and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean when inserted.
b) Cream Cheese Frosting
- In another large bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Gradually add the icing sugar, whisking continuously until smooth and creamy.
- Cover and chill in a refrigerator until ready to use. [Let it rest for a few minutes before application.]
- Once cooled completely, slice the cake. Frost the cake using the cream cheese frosting.
- Sprinkle some chopped walnuts/pistachios between every layer [optional].
- Once frosted, sprinkle with more chopped nuts [optional]. Refrigerate the cake for half an hour.
Once done, slice the cake into your desirable portion. Place the slice on a dessert plate, sprinkle some more chopped nuts if desired. Serve.
- I generally use salted butter in all my desserts. This prevents me from adding any more salt than required.
- Make it richer! Swap the buttermilk with 50mL condensed milk.
- Play around with the flavors. Make it Middle Eastern by replacing the vanilla with rose water [garnish with pistachios and rose petals]. For an Indian touch, add 1tsp freshly grated nutmeg and 1tsp pistachio powder in lieu of cinnamon.
- Use any nuts which suit your tastes. You do you, boo.
- Add 1tsp lemon juice and zest to the cream cheese frosting to give it a slight citrusy tang.
- Make it boozy! Add a shot of dark rum to a shot of simple sugar syrup, apply the syrup to every layer.
What Wine to Pair with?
As like the Gajar Halwa, a Sauternes, a late harvest Chenin Blanc, or [if nothing else] Sherry.