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carrot, orange and pistachio cake

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Carrot, orange and pistachio cake

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – very much my principle. There is a hotel in the French Alps that I go to for my annual skiing jaunt. Until recently it was the best France had to offer especially food-wise: the restaurant served classic French menu with an Alpine slant, perfectly balanced three courses followed by cheeses and a dessert buffet to die for, cooked by the best chef albeit yet Michelin starless. Recipe for success, no?

Clearly not everyone agreed. The owner (British, I’m sorry to say) group decided that what a French ski resort needs is a quasi-Italian cookery and so this year I was dubiously welcomed by (tough and undercooked) aubergine parmigiana, zuppa di pesce inexplicably incorporating half a loaf of soggy bread at the bottom, chicken Milanese slapped on a plate with no accompaniments and pasta adorned with a few matchsticks of bored courgettes. Oh, and everything buried in piles of rocket which seemed to be the only veg in abundance.

So to transpose my principle to the carrot cake area – why on earth do I want to add oranges, treacle or indeed TAHINI to the best, simple mix like this, carrot cake being an easy to make and beloved by many classic pudding. Well, it’s an exception that proves the rule. Trust Dan Lepard and his ‘Short and Sweet’ recipe collection.

So it admittedly wasn’t broke but this take actually works a treat. Posh carrot cake. Fancy carrot cake. Use your regular recipe 364 days a year but make THIS once for a special occasion.

carrot, orange and pistachio cake

Servings: 12-14Time: about 3 hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 75g tahini
  • 125ml sunflower or groundnut oil
  • 3 tbsp. pomegranate molasses or syrup (or black treacle)
  • zest grated from 3 oranges
  • 225g light soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, 2 of them separated
  • 200g finely grated carrot
  • 100g unsalted pistachios, chopped roughly
  • 100ml orange juice (about 1½ orange)
  • 175g plain flour
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • For the cream cheese frosting:
  • 200g butter, softened
  • zest grated of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 400g full fat cream cheese


METHOD

1. In a large bowl, or in the bowl of the standing mixer beat together the tahini, oil, pomegranate syrup, orange zest and the brown sugar. Beat in the whole egg and the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the grated carrots, pistachios and the orange juice.

2. Sieve in the flour combined with the baking powder and the spices and mix in until well combined.

3. Beat the two egg whites until stiff peaks and fold them gently into the mixture.

4. Butter a 23cm round cake tin and line the bottom with parchment. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Pour the mix into the tin and bake for 55-60min until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely in the tin, run a sharp knife around the edges to unmold the cake and place on a wire rack.

Cream cheese frosting for carrot cake

5. To make the frosting, place the butter, the zest, lemon juice and the icing sugar in a large bowl, or the bowl of the standing mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth, then add the half the cream cheese and beat until combined. Whisk the remaining cream cheese by hand until fluffy, or very carefully with an electric mixer, don’t overbeat.

Filling a carrot cake

6. Slice the cake horizontally in halves using a cake wire cutter or a very sharp knife. Slather half the cream cheese frosting over the bottom half, cover with the top and spoon the remaining frosting on top. Smooth it with a palette knife.

7. Sprinkle some reserved pistachios and some lemon zest shavings on top and chill for at least an hour before serving.

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