I have been seeing carrot cakes on many food blogs and food sites over the past year or so but this beautiful carrot cake at No Special Effects really caught my eye. That cake made me decide I too wanted to bake my own carrot cake, even though I didn't use Mark's recipe when I finally did bake one. The only reason I did not was because I wanted a recipe which did not use pineapple.
An abundance of winter carrots at the market set me searching for a recipe I could use. The only problem (for me) was that all the recipes seemed to use one, the other or all of these ingredients – pineapple or coconut, eggs and a lot of oil. I wanted to avoid the first two in my cake and wanted to bring down the third (oil) to a minimum!
I adapted that recipe a bit and also made it eggless. One thing I liked about this cake (apart from its taste) is it takes just about 10 minutes to make up the batter (not counting the time required to grate the carrots). This recipe requires no beating or whipping. In fact, this uses more of a "muffin" technique, so end up with a lovely cake with very little arm exercise!
I know that carrot cakes are usually covered with cream cheese frosting, but we are not fans of frosting on the whole and sprinkling powdered sugar also seemed a very "sweet" idea. So I decided to cover my carrot cake with a chocolate ganache.
The result was a moist yet firm chocolate covered cake. The cake was a bit dense (naturally) but with a nice crumb, and not too sweet. This cake improves in flavour the next day, and keeps in the fridge for about a week.
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp grated nutmeg
2/3 cup brown sugar (I used demerara)
2 cups loosely packed grated carrots
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup oil
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 tbsp flax seed powder + 4 tbsp warm water
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice
For the chocolate ganache:
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup milk chocolate
100ml cream (25% fat)
1 tbsp butter
Mix the flax seed powder and the warm water and whisk well for about half a minute. Keep aside. After about 10 minutes, the flax seed mixture will become thick and viscous.
Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together into a bowl. Add the sugar, grated carrots, raisins and walnuts and mix everything so that the carrot, walnuts and raisins are well coated with flour.
In another bowl, lightly whisk together the oil, flax seed mixture, vanilla extract, yogurt and orange juice. Make a well in middle of the dry ingredients and pour the whisked liquid ingredients into this. Gently stir till combined. Do not over-mix.
Scrape the cake batter into a lined and well-greased 8" cake tin and bake at 190C for between 1 and 1 1/2 hours. If the top of the cake is browning too much, cover the cake with aluminium foil half way through the baking.
Once the cake is done (an inserted skewer/ knife should come out clean), take it out and leave it in the tin for about 20 minutes. Then remove and let it cool on a rack. Once the cake has completely cooled, prepare the ganache.
Chop the chocolate and put into a bowl. Add the butter to it. Heat the cream, stirring constantly, over medium heat until you can see the steam rising from the cream. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Keep stirring the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate dissolves completely and ganache is smooth. If you feel the ganache is becoming thick, just place the bowl over simmering water and stir it. The ganache will thin, but be careful not to get any moisture into it. Now pour the ganache over the cake and decorate as you wish. I used candied chocolate covered cashewnuts and candied carrot curls. This recipe makes one 8" cake.