Carrot Cake. It is probably the best cake-y invention ever. Yes, even better than when those two lovely French ladies accidentally dropped their apple tart on the ground and decided to serve it upside down and call it tarte tatin.
I’m absolutely infatuated with the humble carrot cake. Why?
First of all, it is so damn easy to make.
Secondly, it looks pretty (cuz it’s orange, obvs.)
And thirdly, which is the most obvious reason, because it contains carrots.
Although the carrot cake has been a staple dessert in the Anglo-Saxon world since the Second World War, it has only become “fashionable” in tiny Belgium these past few years.
In fact, some –ignorant- people here have still never tasted it (the horror!) or even heard of it (complete and utter terror!) How these people have managed to survive without the wonder of the carrot cake in their lives is honestly beyond my comprehension.
Anyway, so when I was telling my colleagues at work that I had baked a carrot cake for my latest Baking With Booze video and two of my co-workers frowned and asked me whether that meant it was a savory cake, I seriously almost had a heart attack and fell off my chair!
So for once and for all, dear Belgian folk: a carrot cake is a sweet miracle. An edible wonder ful of spices, flavour and a bold and rich attitude.
And no, it doesn’t taste “too carroty” either.
So whether you’re finally willing to take the carrot cake leap of faith, or whether you’re looking for a new and easy version of your classic favourite recipe: this Baking with Booze recipe is it!
It’s super easy.
It doesn’t require much assembling or decoration skills. (phew!)
And it has Madeira wine in it.
I rest my case.
125gr ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
50gr cane sugar
150gr carrots, grated
50gr pecan nuts, chopped + extra for decoration
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground ginger
50 ml Madeira wine
For the the cream cheese frosting:
150gr cream cheese
2 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp (or more!) of Madeira wine
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment.
Put all the ingredients together in a bowl and stir until everything is combined.
Pour the mix into the baking tin and bake in the oven for approx. 45 minutes.
Once the cake has completely cooled, start making your frosting by mixing the ingredients together. Taste whether the frosting is boozy enough.
Spread a generous layer of the frosting on your cake and decorate with pecans.
There is a new vegetable on the cake block and it is here to steal all the carrot’s glory. I am talking about the parsnip.
Yes, that weirdly white cousin of the pristine carrot.
Who would have thought this would ever happen?
Certainly not me.
For some idiotic reason, parsnips have always been associated with Medieval peasants, bumpy carriage rides and pigs rolling around in the mud (or maybe that was just me?) but the humble parsnip can actually be really regal if it is used the right way.
I might even go as far as to say that parsnips are even better than carrots, definitely when used in cakes, because parsnips provide a distinctive spiciness that your favourite carrots lack.
Conclusion? Move over, carrot cake! Because the parsnip cake is ready to be in the spot lights. This parsnip cake is even more special because I added a heavenly spiced date and walnut swirl, which gives the cake a fragrant whiff of Middle Eastern flair. Add to that the honey cream cheese frosting and you just now this cake is about to rock your world.
So, in all honesty, I believe it is time for a revolution. A Parsnip Revolution. (Just bake the cake and you’ll understand what I’m talking about)
Who is with me? 😉
Parsnip Cake with Spiced Date and Walnut Swirl and Cream Cheese Frosting
150gr parsnips, grated
150gr caster sugar
150ml Vegetable oil
150gr plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp salt
For the date and walnut swirl:
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
60gr chopped walnuts
75gr dried dates
For the honey and cream cheese frosting:
100gr cream cheese
1 ½ tbsp honey
Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a cake tin with baking parchment.
Make the swirl mixture, by blending the dried dates and spices together until you get a smooth paste. Stir through the chopped walnuts and set aside.
Put the sugar, eggs and oil in bowl and mix on high speed until all the ingredients are incorporated. Slowly add the flour, baking powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda and beat until everything is combined.
Stir in the grated parsnips until they are evenly dispersed.
Pour two third of the mixture into the prepared baking tin.
Spread the date and walnut filling onto the cake batter and now carefully spoon the remaining parsnip batter on top of the date and walnut spread.
Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes.
While the cake is cooling, make the frosting by mixing together the cream cheese and honey. It’s as easy as that.
Spread the frosting onto the cake and decorate with some nuts and extra cinnamon, if you like.
Do you need me to repeat that? A Pecan Streusel…. Cheesecake Swirl… Carrot… Bundt Cake!
I just know that at least some of you are lying on the kitchen floor right now, drooling over the thought of so much baking magnificence, but get a grip people!
Don’t waste your precious baking time on drooling over these pictures – how beautiful that baking hallucination may be- but run to the grocery store, buy the ingredients and get baking!
Because if there is one thing you should be baking this fall, it has got to be this one! I invented this cake in a spur of ultimate culinary intelligence and I must say that I am incredibly proud of the end result.
Once you cut into the crunchy streusel, the aroma from the cinnamon fills you with joy and laughter …. The moist carrot cake is an intense kiss of earthy goodness … and the creamy cheesecake coats your tongue in a blanket of sweet and sticky loveliness.
Remember when Julia Roberts said she was having a relationship with her pizza?
Well, I’m having a relationship with this Bundt cake, and I have to say: me and this cake were made for each other. Inseparable. Like Yin and Yang. Or Belgians and Beer. Or Miley Cyrus and Parent Complaints.
If you want to experience the beauty of this romance yourself, here is the recipe.
For the pecan streusel:
• 25gr muscovado sugar
• 40gr plain flour
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon
• 22gr butter
• 50gr pecans, finely chopped
For the Carrot cake:
• 280gr carrots, grated
• 30gr yoghurt
• 1 egg
• 100ml vegetable oil
• 140gr caster sugar
• 180gr plain flour
• ½ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
• ½ tsp ground ginger
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• 40gr pecans, chopped
• Pinch of salt
For the cheesecake:
• 250gr cream cheese
• 1 heaped tbsp caster sugar
• 1 egg yolk
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and generously grease a bundt cake tin.
2. Make the streusel by rubbing all the ingredients together between your fingers until you get a sandy, crumble-like consistency. Put the streusel at the bottom of your bundt cake tin.
3. Make the carrot cake. Whisk together the oil, sugar, yoghurt and carrots until well combined. Stir in the egg. Sift in the dry ingredients in two separate batches. Mix until everything is smooth and shiny. Stir in the chopped pecans.
4. Now spoon in 2/3 of the mixture on top of your streusel. Leave the rest for later.
5. Make the cheesecake mixture by mixing all the ingredients together. Put the cheesecake batter into a piping bag and pipe the cream cheese in the center of tin. When it bakes this will spread slightly, but it will still create a lovely cheesecake swirl.
6. Now top the entire thing with your left-over carrot cake batter and bake into the oven for 50 minutes.
7. Leave to cool completely in the tin before turning it out onto a wire rack
Many people find the end of summer incredibly depressing: No more wearing flirty dresses (unless it’s your goal in life to be the next Marilyn Monroe with your skirt blowing up even when it’s actually minus three outside), no more drinking sangria (unless you want to look like a totally alienated ivory-tower-sticking twat)and no more eating gelato while sitting on the beach wearing a polka dot bikini (unless the combination of freezing gelato, a freezing wind and sand in many awkward places sounds appealing to you)
If you’re one of those pessimists, the months ahead of us can indeed seem quite gloomy…
But let me tell you something, dear my-glass-is-always-half-empty readers: your preconceived depressing idea of the bleakness of fall could be no further from the truth!
There are many things to look forward to. Yes, fall equals colder and gloomier weather but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing! On the contrary, there are many many advantages!
Here are my 10 very subjective reasons why I’m looking forward to fall and the accompanying cold weather:
1. You can drink hot chocolate without looking like a total doofus
Just like there is an unspoken rule that dictates you can’t drink sangria in the winter, there is an unspoken rule you can’t drink hot chocolate in the summer. To me, not being allowed to drink hot chocolate was complete and utter torture! I love hot chocolate and I could drink it every single day, regardless of which season I’m in. Lucky for me, I will no longer be stared at by people who think drinking hot chocolate when it’s warm outside is absurd. I’m no longer the oddity. I’m the rule! 2. It’s time for a well-deserved Bublé-bath!
It is by far the best form of relaxation (ask my friend Mr. Jack Whitehall): A long, hot bath, you’re favourite cinnamon-scented bath bubbles, candles everywhere, a glass of champagne and last but definitely not least Michael Bublé’s soft and soothing voice bursting out of the stereo, bringing you in a mood of utter tranquility and bliss… 3. All the best TV-series are back on air!
Although the end of summer marks the end of admiring Suits’ Harvey Specter, his razor-sharp comments and his divinely gorgeous behind, we shouldn’t get ourselves down. There are plenty of incredibly good TV-series to look forward to next TV season! (and almost all of them have cast drool-worthy actors!)
e.g.: Glee ( with Darren Criss, aka the actor with the highest swoon-factor), White Collar (with Matt-why didn’t he get the role of Christian Grey?-Bomer), The Vampire Diaries (With Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Michael Trevino and many others sexy guys who are likely to take their shirts off at least once), Grey’s Anatomy (with the almost God-like Jesse Williams), Homeland (with Damian-is or isn’t he a terrorist?-Lewis)and Scandal (which may not have a drop-dead gorgeous actor, unless you’re into US presidents, but has Kerry Washington) 4. You can use a fuzzy TV blanket without looking like an Inuit-wannabe
I love TV blankets. I really really really do. Somehow I believe they enhance the incredibly relaxing activity of watching TV. TV blankets, however, are often frowned upon when the temperatures outside don’t reflect your inner need to tuck yourself in and enjoy a good fuzzy warmth of a woolen blanket. I would use TV blankets all year round if I could. Yes, even during heat waves. My brother often sarcastically remarks that I look like an Eskimo, covered in so much wool, but I never really cared about that. So I’m not gonna start now. Let’s all be blanket-lovin’ Inuit wannabees together! 5. It’s the time of pumpkin pies and carrot cakes!
I still have to meet the first person who doesn’t love carrot cake or pumpkin pie. I guess we’re all genetically programmed to be completely smitten by that spicy waft of cinnamon and nutmeg, that palate-clinging smoothness of the pumpkin filling, that sweet and earthy flavour of carrot and walnut in a cake batter… Carrot cakes and pumpkin pies epitomize what the fall is all about: comfort, warmth and love. Who wouldn’t adore that? 6. Fall fashion is way more exciting than summer fashion
When the weather gets cooler you obviously cannot keep wearing your boring old summer clothes. You need an entire new wardrobe! Although this fact may seem daunting to most men, to women it’s the perfect excuse for going on a guilt-free shopping spree. 7. You can leave your hat on…
Forget bad hair days! From now on you can simply wear a hat and no one will ever notice your hair looks like a Cruella Devil impersonation. Moreover, hats are by far the most fashionable accessory for this fall and can turn an ordinary fall-look into a showstopping outfit! 8. No more sweating!
Cooler weather may sound dreadful to some of you, but you simply cannot deny that you will all secretly be happy about the prospect of not having to check your armpits every half an hour. (Admit it!)Now we can all go on dates without having to worry about make-up sliding off our faces and hold hands without being totally embarrassed about sweaty palms. (I told you cold weather was a good thing!) 9. You can go on a date to Starbucks and look each other in the eyes over a giant cup of Pumpkin Spiced Latte
The return of the Pumpkin Spiced Latte is one the main reasons everyone should be looking forward to autumn. What could possible be better than indulging yourself with the delectable heavenly taste of spices and sweet pumpkin? Drinking a Pumpkin Spiced Latte while getting to know a mysterious guy you’ve just met? Consider it done! 10. Fall is beautiful!
The leaves are changing into vibrant colours. Amber, golden and scarlet hues turn autumn into a feast for the eyes and it seems as if –overnight- the country has changed into a gallery of autumnal beauty. Seriously, what’s not to love?
I love baking. I dare say that I get almost as much pleasure out of baking a cake as I do eating it.
This morning I decided to bake my favorite autumn treat: a spiced carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. It is moist, sweet and incredibly easy to make. Whatever the occasion, a slice of delicious carrot cake will always add that special touch of home-made satisfaction.
Opt for a traditional carrot cake if your grandma is coming to lunch, but don’t be afraid to experiment with exiting new flavour combinations from time to time. Why not add cardamom seeds, candied ginger or a splash of single malt Whisky? Or maybe scatter over some marshmallows? No matter which variation you decide to try, I am confident you will make it again and again and again and …