Saturday, March 04, 2006

Carrot Cake

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).


Anonymous Tania said...

I love/hate the story of your friend in Costa Rica; she's living my dream, too! However, being a HUGE fan of carrot cake with cream cheese icing, I will have to try her recipe nonetheless.

Nice job with the marzipan carrots!

3:52 am  
Blogger MM said...

I love the little carrots - so adorable! Like you I used to snub the poor carrot cakes till I made my own and totally fell in lust with it.

By the way, I noticed we both posted about prata recently. Leftover prata is yums.

11:03 am  
Blogger *kel said...

hola chica, i like it when you "bitch" all the way :) man you´ve some pretty interesting singaporean friends! long time no talk. me a little busy with playing host past few days plus stuff. time to blog i know... arghh...a little lazy and lack of inspiration :) u know how it is...


11:32 am  
Blogger Alicat said...

that is by far the cutest carrot cake I've ever seen! :)

1:08 pm  
Anonymous S said...


I've noticed that you're quite a fan of Baking Illustrated. Isn't it awesome?

Love your adorable marzipan carrots. We made the same mistake when we made the carrot cake cupcakes in Martha Stewart's baking book. Left them out overnight. They were a sorry sight the morning after.

J is dying to have someone make her the carrot cake extravaganza in the Boulevard cookbook. Why doncha try your hand at it? ;P

2:07 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

cute carrots!

5:27 am  
Blogger Gustad said...

i am like you too.. I've never thought much of carrot cake. still yet for somebody to change my mind

11:07 pm  
Anonymous paz said...

Your cake looks great! I don't eat them often but I love carrot cake!


12:20 pm  
Blogger J said...

hello! marzipan carrots look so cute perched atop cake! s found me out there - i've been hinting high and low (big loud totally unsubtle hints they are too, like this one ;))to anyone who will listen to make that darned carrot plated dessert from boulevard that's burning the back of my brain

12:16 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your little carrots they came out super sweet (sorry to just follow what everyone else is saying but it is true). Good work :)

4:51 am  
Blogger Santos said...

where is CL's bakery? i am tentatively planning a trip to a rural, touristy beach town in costa rica; maybe it's the same one.

12:57 pm  
Blogger Moi said...

and guess wot! we indians make sth very similar to carrot cake : call it "gajar ka halwa" in our lingo
where gajar= carrot and halwa = cake!

this looked particularly yummy!!!!!!!1

11:26 pm  
Blogger Antti said...

Mmm, I adore carrot cake! I learned to love them in the States, and now that I moved back to Finland, have already made it several times - and better yet - my family loves it too :D

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, no carrot cake is complete without that deliciously tangy cream cheese online
There are many variations to this carrot cake recipe with the most noticeable difference being whether the cake contains crushed pineapple (well drained) or applesauce (or grated apples). Adding either of these ingredients will give the cake a more dense and moist texture which some prefer. Just add the pineapple or applesauce (1/2 to 1 cup), to the batter when you add the vanilla extract, and no other alterations need to be made to the recipe except that you may have to bake the cake a few minutes longer. For a more casual dessert you could bake this cake in a 9 x 13 x 2 inch (23 x 33 x 5 cm) pan. Just increase the baking time to between 30 to 40 minutes.

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