I tasted a cake some weeks ago, that I can´t seem to forget about. This cake is nothing new, but for me it was inspiring the moment I expected the usual sweet familiar taste and found something tingling in my mouth. After baking many, many carrot cakes, I ate one a few weeks ago that was a welcome change. It was extremely moist, spicy and perfect ratio crumb to frosting, which is a big deal for me. The piquant flavor came from ginger in the frosting. Of course, when I searched for information as whether to use powder, fresh, candied ginger or a combination, I realized it´s nothing new, and the cake I bake all the time has ginger as one of the spices in the batter.
In the south here, carrot cake is a very new acquaintance. So is ginger as an everyday thing. We have Italian and Spanish heritage, so desserts tend to reflect that too, a ricotta tart, flan, bananas with dulce de leche, soft cheese with quince jam.
But I was at a friend´s birthday, where I took this hazelnut loaf, and another friend had made the carrot cake for her. Soon I found many around the table asking for the cake and loving it. It was a surprise. I guess our palates are starting to evolve a bit; that being a huge step and allowing other cultures, and thus new ingredients, to appear and be welcomed.
This is my version of that inspiring cake, well, not mine, it belongs to the wonderful Rose Carrarini. The cake itself is simple but very popular. It has a subtle flavor, a smoky undertone without the distracting spices. Great for the tingling cream cheese cover. I had friends over for tea and this cake was a hit. It is my go-to carrot cake of the moment.
There are posts everywhere looking for the ultimate carrot cake. I have many I love, each one with a different twist. This recipe in particular, besides being incredibly delicious, is easy to make. That has to be a plus right? It is.
from Breakfast, Lunch, Tea at Rose Bakery, by Rose Carrarini
For the cake:
1 1/8 cup (225g) sugar
1 ¼ cup (300ml) sunflower oil
4-5 medium carrots, finely grated
2 cups (300g) all purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (150g) finely chopped walnuts
For the icing:
½ cup + 1 Tbs (125g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (250g) cream cheese, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ to ¾ cup (50 a 75g) powdered sugar
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
Candied ginger, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 350ºF / 180ºC.
Butter a 23cm (9 inch) cake tin and line it´s bottom with parchment paper.
Beat the eggs and sugar until they are light and fluffy but not too white and meringue-like.
Pour in the oil and beat for a few more minutes.
Fold in the carrots and then the flower with the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Finally fold in the walnuts.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool the cake in the tin before unmolding it.
For the icing: Beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add the ginger and beat well until smooth and spreadable.
Frost top and sides of cake and decorate with candied ginger.