Kew on a Plate - Carrot Cake
Recipe from Kew on a Plate with Raymond Blanc.
Carrot cake history cannot be traced to a single nation. What is certain, however, is that carrots have been used as a natural sweetener since the Middle Ages, when they were put into puddings. As a Frenchman, I confess that I have always regarded the British tendency to use vegetables in cakes with a degree of scepticism, but I was pleasantly surprised with the result. The French would probably use butter whereas my British friends would most likely use oil, which will keep the cake moist for longer. The spicing and flavouring of the cake is up to you: make it your canvas with a hint of cumin, allspice or cardamom as well as, or in place of, the cinnamon and ginger, and even add orange zest if you wish. Although this recipe makes two cakes, it freezes very well (un-iced) and can be kept frozen for up to 1 month. Ice the cake once it is thoroughly defrosted.
|For the carrot cake|
|300g||Light brown sugar|
|1 tsp||Vanilla Purée or good-quality vanilla extract|
|300g||Plain flour, sifted|
|1 tsp||Bicarbonate of soda|
|1 tsp||Baking powder|
|1/2 tsp||Sea salt|
|1 tsp||Ground cinnamon|
|1 tsp||Ground ginger|
|For the icing and topping (optional)|
|25g||Unsalted butter, softened|
|30g||Pecan nuts/walnuts, toasted, to decorate|
Preheat the oven to 170ºC/Gas Mark 3½. Line two 26 x 9 x 8cm terrine moulds or 900g loaf tins with baking parchment leaving an overhang of paper.
Prepare the cake batter
In a food mixer on a medium speed, whisk together the sugar, eggs, marzipan and vanilla purée or extract for about 4 minutes, until smooth and light. Continue mixing and pour in the sunflower oil in a steady stream. Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and spices and sift. Fold into the wet mixture until fully incorporated. Lastly, fold in the sultanas and carrot, then pour the mixture into your lined terrine moulds or tins. Bake the carrot cakes in the oven for 45 minutes. To check if the cakes are cooked, insert a sharp paring knife into each and touch it to your lips; it should feel hot. For greater accuracy, insert a probe into the centre of the cake – it will read 76–82ºC. At this temperature all the ingredients will be cooked through. Remove the cakes from the oven, take them out of the moulds and leave to cool on a cooling rack. It is important to turn them out of their moulds immediately so that they don’t steam inside the moulds. Of course, the cake can be eaten just as it is, but for more of a celebration, ice it.
To make the icing
Briskly beat the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Once the cakes are completely cool, use a palette knife to spread the icing on top of each loaf and finish by scattering over a few whole toasted pecan nuts or walnuts.
Recipe from Kew on a Plate with Raymond Blanc, published by Headline Ltd.
Recipe © Raymond Blanc 2015.
Photograph © Jean Cazals 2015.