Life was so busy lately that I simply did not get around to writing for this blog. Work, work, work, helping the kids with their studies, housekeeping, and all the rest. No time for writing.
At the weekend I decided to bake, despite all the work I had to do. I thought it would give me the feeling that there was still something like a “normal” life left. I tried hard to make a pretty and tasty cake, but it did not really work out. It is certainly better to do your baking when you have enough time for it and do not have to do all kinds of additional activities besides!
The recipe I chose was also not ideal, considering that the weekend was quite full already. I wanted to bake this Carrot Cake, which has already gone wrong once. When I baked it in a loaf pan as the recipe said, it looked like this:
The cake kept bothering me. The taste was excellent. Dark, moist, not too sweet, with an intense aroma of walnuts and cinnamon and a hint of lemon. I could not understand why it had not risen. That is why I decided to try it again.
This time I baked the Carrot Cake in a round baking pan. I was hoping that this way the batter would rise better than in the loaf pan. I was planning to fill and frost the cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, and to decorate it with caramelized walnuts.
Unfortunately, this second attempt did not work out as I had planned. The cake was baked right through, but it was so moist and crumbly that I had a hard time cutting it into two layers. I ended up turning the cake upside down onto a plate with the bottom of the pan still attached to the cake, then cutting it horizontally in two layers. Next I took the bottom of the pan off, together with the top layer. This worked.
After filling the cake with the frosting, I put the cake together again. I could not match bottom and top layer exactly because the top layer would have fallen apart. The cake therefore looked quite lopsided. It was also so crumbly that I could not spread the frosting onto it without mixing lots of crumbs into the frosting.
I also expected the caramelized nuts to be different, but was positively surprised by them.
Initially I did not want to present this cake in my blog, but then I thought, why not? It might not look perfect, but the taste was good. I will certainly make it again, if only to find out how to make it turn out exactly the way I want it to be!
1 ¼ cup (225 g) brown sugar
10.7 oz (300 g) carrots, peeled and grated
2 ½ cups (250 g) ground walnuts
½ + ⅓ cups (120 g) chopped walnuts
Grated lemon peel of 1 organic lemon
juice from ½ lemon
½ cup (60 g) flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 pinches salt
Cream Cheese Frosting:
14.3 oz. (400 g) cream cheese, lactose-free
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 ⅔ cups (160 g) powdered sugar, sieved
12 halved walnuts
1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. whipping cream
Grease a round baking pan and dust with flour.
Preheat the oven to 355° F (180° C).
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar with a kitchen machine or a hand mixer at maximum speed for at least 5 minutes until fluffy.
Fold in the grated carrots, then the ground and the chopped walnuts, the lemon juice and the lemon peel.
Gently fold in the flour mixture.
Pour the dough into the baking pan and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 270° F (130° C). Keep the door of the oven open a bit with a wooden spoon. Bake the cake for about 55 minutes, until it is browned. It will be done when a toothpick inserted in the center came out clean.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
With the hand mixer, beat cream cheese, lemon juice and powdered sugar at medium speed.
In a small pan, melt sugar and butter until the sugar has turned golden brown. Stir occasionally. Add the whipping cream. Be careful – the mixture might bubble up and splatter! Stir until all the lumps have dissolved and the caramel is smooth.
Add the twelve walnut halves to the caramel and stir until they are covered with caramel. Take the nuts out and individually place them onto a piece of tin foil. Pour or spoon the remaining caramel over them. Let the nuts cool down completely.
Horizontally cut the cake into two layers and fill with about one third of the Cream Cheese Frosting. Put the cake together and spread with the remaining frosting. Decorate with the caramelized walnuts.
For a quicker version, skip the frosting and the caramelized walnuts. Simply sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar instead and enjoy!
Trish Deseine (2010), I Love Cake, München: AT Verlag.