Wednesday, 26 October 2011

life is dessert first.

cream-cheese with pistachio frosted carrot cake 
"life is uncertain. eat dessert first" 
or better still have dessert for dinner as i did this tuesday night. 
for those of you who are frowning please be aware that carrots are one of five a day. if you still don't agree then dan lepard (creator of this recipe) will convince you that the ingredients of this cake are good for you - 'carrots are good for you. tahini, excellent for the liver and skin. pistachios, all that nutty protein and those plant sterols that reduce cholesterol'. at this point i'll ask you to overlook the cream-cheese frosting. 

i made the cake on saturday and had a warm slice with tea that afternoon. since then it has sat in the fridge. i find that fruit and vegetable cakes taste better after sitting around as the spices get to know each other more. with carrot cake, the carrots along with soft sugar and fruit mean that the cake is moisture rich and keeps well. tonight on my way back from yoga i asked o to take the cake from the fridge and let it sit in the room as i don't like cold cake. i fixed the hungry husband left over fatija's for dinner and cut myself a very generous slice of cake. dan lepard's recipe is rodenesque as it brings a taste of the middle east to the classic american carrot cake. the result is a lighter and delicate cake. i think mine was made more delicate by the fact that the carrots were grated very fine. next time i will go for a coarser grate to add a bit more texture. as always i tweaked the recipe but this time more out of necessity than choice.

a rodenesque carrot cake with cinnamon cream-cheese frosting 
(adapted from dan lepard's carrot, orange and pistachio cake

75g tahini
125ml sunflower oil
3 tbsp pomegranate syrup 
zest of 3 oranges, and 100ml juice
225g light soft brown sugar plus two tablespoons for sprinkling on the batter before baking
3 large eggs, 2 of which are separated
200g carrot, grated 
100g chopped pistachios
175g plain flour
2½ level tsp baking powder
2 level tsp ground cinnamon
½ level tsp nutmeg 
a 23cm round cake tin

1. preheat the oven to a 170 degrees celsius.
2. grease the cake tin and dust lightly with flour. this will ensure that the cake comes out clean and easy.
3. beat together the tahini, oil, syrup, zest, juice and sugar till smooth. then incorporate the a whole egg and two yolks reserving the whites. these are to be beaten until they are fluffy and then folded into the batter in the end. stir in the carrots and pistachios. 
4. sift together the flour, baking powder and spices and stir through the mixture.
5. beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks and fold through the batter using a metal spoon. do not beat the batter as this will cause the air to escape from the egg whites and will result in a dense cake. 
6. put the batter into the cake tin and sprinkle the surface with brown sugar. let it bake for 35 minutes. the cake is done when the top is shiny and springs back lightly when touched. alternatively, you can put a knife in the centre to check if it comes out clean.
7. once done, remove from the oven and let cool slightly before removing the cake from the tin. frost only when the cake is cool. i made up the recipe for cream-cheese frosting using a lighter cream-cheese (not reduced fat which has too watered down a taste).  

cream-cheese frosting
60 grams salted butter at room temperature
6 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
250 grams lighter cream-cheese

1. beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. add the cream-cheese and cinnamon to the mixture and beat for a further minute or so. 

note; i made the silly mistake of buying unshelled pistachios and only realised that once i had given them a bash with my rolling pin. i thought a light bash would save me the chopping but instead just made it harder for me to shell them. this is why i sprinkled them on top. it should have occurred to me that they would not retain their crispness once sprinkled onto the frosting. of course i won't be doing that again. in fact next time, i am going to follow my instinct and use toasted chopped almonds instead. 

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