Until last week, I hadn't seen my friend CL in a little more than two years. That's a long time to be away from my closest pal and partner in crime. At the time, CL left for Costa Rica with the intention of teaching diving for a season and then travelling across Central America with her now former beau. During diving season however, CL—like all Singaporeans—began craving for foods other than beans and rice. In particular, she craved the cakes and desserts that she was spoiled for choice here in Singapore and in my kitchen. With nary a bakery in sight, CL decided to take things into her own hands and start her own little bakery in the middle of a rural, touristy beach town in Costa Rica. "I'm living your dream," she often reminds me. Bitch.
Anyway, fast forward to two years later and CL is finally back in my kitchen. Home for her sister's wedding, we have all but four days together before she's off again. One of the things she promised she would make me is her carrot cake that is one of her best-sellers back in Costa Rica.
I have to admit: I've never thought much of carrot cake. For one, it's not chocolate. And secondly, it's made of carrot. How yummy could it possibly be? The few I've encountered were mediocre at best. Nothing to write home about and certainly nothing to gush over. But CL has been keen to convert me to the pleasures of her carrot cake. So like a true friend, I indulged her. And whaddya know? The cake was really good—moist and loose-crumbed, with the mellow flavour of nutmeg and cinnamon running gently through it. The recipe called for chopped walnuts, but the closest thing I had in my kitchen that night were pecans and hazelnuts. So we chopped up some of those instead and, as it turns out, I think the cake was that much better for it. Walnuts tend to get a tad soft and ooze a wee bit of oil into a cake; the hazelnuts and pecans imparted their sweet flavour to the cake and added some bite to it at the same time.
The next day, I frosted it with a recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting from Baking Illustrated. This time, I substituted yoghurt for sour cream in the recipe and went real easy on the sugar (the recipe calls for a whopping 5 ounces of icing sugar). I'm pleased to report that frosting turned out pretty alright too.
Later that night, when I found myself with a few spare hours on my hands, I decided to try my hand at marzipan carrots to decorate the top with. They were a tad fiddly to do, but fun nevertheless. Still, the task left me a quite exhausted (I'm pathetic, I know) and I fell asleep before I could transfer the cake from its stand to the refrigerator. Hence, you'll see in the picture that the oils and colour from the marzipan oozed slightly onto the frosting (tropical heat can be a real bitch).