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Ottolenghi’s carrot cake, fluffy yet flavoursome

May 31, 2011

I promise right now this will not become a blog dedicated to recreating Ottolenghi recipes. There, I wrote it, it’s published, you can remind me later when I’ve lost track of how many I’ve made.

About this carrot cake though – it has now bitten me in the behind, because a while back I harked on about how I wanted a carrot cake recipe that didn’t have a million ingredients, and carrot was the main feature. However, even though this does have a formidable ingredient list, it is unsurprisingly the best I’ve ever eaten. Not just made, but eaten. Of all the cafe carrot cakes, this takes…the cake. In my mind there is a gradient for carrot cakes. At one end is the super dense (let’s be honest, rock hard) cake, packed full of nuts and coconut thread and probably (god forbid) pineapple or some other fruit that shouldn’t be there. At the other end is my simple carrot cake recipe, with nothing but carrots and cinnamon as the stars. This sits bang in the middle, but it also has the added bonus of having that moist fluffiness that all cakes should aim for (except some chocolate cakes perhaps). It’s the marriage of carrot cakey flavours with that soft fluffiness that really does make this perfect for me. Rich and heady spices that aren’t too overwhelming, walnuts for added interest and a toasty nuttiness. It was so good I couldn’t bear putting any frosting on it, serving it instead with plain yogurt. Still tasted wonderful the next day, too.

Near perfection does come at a price however. Not only do you need to separate eggs, somewhere at the end of it you have an extra egg yolk banging around. Now that I know I can freeze them with a bit of salt it’s not a problem, but it’s not something that I’m about to celebrate necessarily.

The one drawback about this cake is that the edge is a little hard and dry on the day of baking. I didn’t really mind, and I probably overcooked the cake a bit anyway, but just a heads up in case you’re particularly antsy about that sort of thing.

Also, if the measurements in weights rather than volume has put you off, would it please you to know that scales are not actually that pricey if you get them off ebay? They are such a wonderful, wonderful tool, and so much better than using cups (more precise, with less cleaning!). I dare you to find someone with kitchen scales who would go back to life without one. Kgo.

I’m not going to re-post the recipe because I did actually follow it almost exactly. The only things I changed was using light brown sugar (only fine sugar I had, plus it tastes delicious) in place of caster sugar, and I added a few drops of tangerine oil. I couldn’t taste this at all however, but on the plus side I ended up with a very fragrant little finger. Mmm.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. June 1, 2011 9:05 am

    The base recipe is more or less that of an Italian carrot cake (minus the coconut, and the fact that we tend to use baking powder with vanilla sachets rather that baking soda and the rest). So in a way I appreciate the ‘base’. Get to the topping and we gets into what we Italian call the anglo-saxon touch: unnecessary icing! I avoid eating carrot cakes here in NZ just because of that cream cheese icing! For me it would be better with just a sprinkle of icing sugar on top, as decoration :-), so I am very happy that you didn’t put icing on yours either :-). For my husband, the Kiwi, I offer some yogurt or cream on the side, Kiwis like that, and the reality is that we eat a cake like this at different times, I have mine for breakfast, dry, with caffellatte, he has his for afternoon tea, or even for dessert. With yogurt. :-).

    When I have an extra egg yolk… I eat it raw. I don’t eat many eggs, so it is a luxury. When I have two I put them on a tablespoon each for the kids and they can gulp it down :-) (but I need two, or they will fight over it!). Husband, the Kiwi, cannot believe that we can eat raw eggs like that, he needs to leave the room. :-)


  2. June 1, 2011 11:33 am

    A: Interesting. Always trust the Italians with food hehe…I have to say all the cake recipes I’ve tried which use oil and require beating eggs (esp whites separate) are the most delicious.

  3. June 1, 2011 7:58 pm

    I love Ottolenghi & have already lost count of the posts Ottolenghi related!

  4. June 1, 2011 9:00 pm

    M: Yeah, I have a feeling this may happen here too >.< Especially once I get my hands on both of the books!

  5. June 2, 2011 1:29 am

    Tangerine oil!! You’ve got me intrigued now.

  6. June 3, 2011 4:47 am

    That sounds delicious. I love a good carrot cake, and the glaze looks so beautiful pouring over the slice! yum!

  7. June 3, 2011 7:18 pm

    This looks and sounds good enough to dispense with my 6-ingredient limit and make wonderful carrot cake for the Queen’s birthday. Thanks for the inspiration Zo.

  8. June 4, 2011 2:54 am

    Really nice pictures. One of my favorite cake.

  9. June 4, 2011 12:15 pm

    I like the use of baker’s coconut in there. Great recipe, no complaints here! And lovely presentation as always.

  10. June 4, 2011 12:17 pm

    A: It smells HEAVENLY. Unfortunately it’s also rather pricey, being from the boyajian range and me being in New Zealand and all. Am thinking of using a few drops in a salad dressing next…

    E: It was a great pairing, the wee bit of yogurt and this cake! Often the yogurt can take the cake from moist to soggy but it worked great here

    F: Yes I normally like fairly simple ingredients lists but I’ve come to really trust Ottolenghi’s recipes now!

    H: Thanks! It has become one of my favourites too

    R: Interestingly the cake isn’t too coconutty and the texture of the dry coconut doesn’t bother me in this cake. Strikes a great balance.

  11. June 5, 2011 10:48 pm

    Admittedly, separating eggs does make me think twice about a recipe but it can produce pretty spectacular results. Am not surprised at all that Ottolenghi’s carrot cake is such a winner…certainly looks beautiful :)

  12. June 6, 2011 4:22 pm

    H: Yeah, especially cakes that require more than 5 eggs, yikes. Looking forward to trying some more of the simpler recipes…can’t wait until my books arrive XD


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