I’ve always thought there is something strange about carrot cake. Despite the rather considerable amount of fat in the cake, carrots make the miracle so it feels healthy. And then there are other filling ingredients such the sugar frosting, and honey and walnuts.
Having said all that and being far from guilt free, carrot cake is nevertheless delicious in almost any form and variation we tried it. And something else – it might look simple and uncomplicated, but it has its own tricks – you want it to be moist and soft. The one carrot cake we instantly wanted to replicate at home was the London’s Ottolenghi cake. I guess most of you probably already know the name of Yotam Ottolenghi, and might possibly have at least one of the Ottolenghi’s cookbooks.
So here it is:
Serves: 10 – 12
Prep and baking time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
For the cake:
160g (1½ cup + 2 tbsp) flour ½ tsp baking powder ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp ground cinnamon ¼ tsp ground cloves 1 large egg 1 egg yolk 200ml (1 cup) sunflower oil 270g (1 ½ cup) caster sugar 50g (½ cup) walnuts, chopped 50g (½ cup) desiccated coconut 135g (1 cup) carrot, finely grated 2 egg whites
a pinch of salt
For the frosting:
175g (1 pack) cream cheese at room temperature 70g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter 35g (5 tbsp) icing sugar 25g (1 tbsp) honey
30g (1/3 cup) walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted
Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F/Gas Mark 3. Line the base and sides of a 20cm/8 inches cake spring form with baking parchment. I used 24cm/9,5 inches spring form, slightly reducing the baking time.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices. Lightly whisk the whole egg with the egg yolk.
Put the oil and caster sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the beater attachment and beat for about a minute on a medium speed. Reduce the speed to low, and slowly add the beaten egg. Mix in the walnuts, coconut and carrot and then the sifted dry
ingredients. Be careful not to over mix.
As I finally faced the fear of whisking egg whites by hand, I now use every given opportunity to practice with the wire whisk, but of course, you can whisk them with a mixer. Just be sure to put the 2 egg whites and the salt in a clean mixer bowl, and work them on high speed until firm peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the carrot mixture in 3 additions. Be careful not to over mix – streaks of white in the mixture are ok.
Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour – it could take longer, or if you use larger cake tin – less time. Make the skewer test before taking the cake out of the oven – it should come out dry. If the cake starts getting dark before the centre is cooked through, cover it with foil. Let the cake cool completely and then remove it from the tin.
Meanwhile, you can prepare the frosting – beat the cream cheese in a mixer until light and smooth. Separately beat the butter with the icing sugar and honey, until fluffy. Fold together the cream cheese and butter mixture and when the mix is homogeneous spread waves on top of the chilled cake. Sprinkle with the nuts and chill for a few hours.
The cake is moist and keeps perfectly even after 4 days in the refrigerator, well covered.