16 September 2007

carrot cake

I was looking forward to the abundance of carrots in my produce delivery this week because for some reason I had a hankerin' for carrot cake. I can't remember the last time I ate carrot cake. It's not something I usually crave, but I have always loved the cream cheese icing.

I found a recipe in one of my gluten-free baking books and I was so diligent about making sure I had all the ingredients on my shopping list when I went to the store earlier this week. It uses some exotic flours, like almond meal and teff, which I have in my pantry. It calls for fava bean flour but I figured I could substitute with soy flour, which is easier to get on short notice. I cleared a few hours yesterday afternoon so I could hunker down in the kitchen. Opened my book and... I didn't have enough eggs. The recipe calls for 4 and I only had 3. Shoot.

I looked through 6 of my cooking and baking books. I could always do a Fanny Farmer and substitute the regular flour with my gf flour mix. The Fanny Farmer calls for a lot of ingredients though. Better Homes and Gardens calls for 4 eggs. This one calls for too many eggs. That one uses ingredients I don't have on hand. I was ready to give up hope.

Then I cracked open a book I hadn't used before. Some friends from New Zealand gave us a cookbook as a wedding present, Edmonds Classics: New Zealanders' Favourite Recipes. Much like the Betty Crocker cookbooks of yesteryear (which I love and have several from the 60s), it centers around Edmonds brand baking soda and other specific brands of flour and other ingredients. It has all the kitsch of the Betty Crocker books, plus the added quaintness of being from New Zealand.

Not only does the Edmonds carrot cake recipe use only 3 eggs, but it uses two other elements I was sad to give up if I had to use a recipe other than the one I originally wanted to use: pineapple and a bundt pan. Pineapples and bundt pans are so fancy! They turn any old cake into a celebration.
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup Amco canola oil
2 cups Champion standard grade flour
1 tsp Edmonds baking powder
1 tsp Edmonds baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots
3/4 cup (225 g can) drained unsweetened crushed pineapple
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp grated orange zest (optional)

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease a deep 20 cm ring tin. Line base with baking paper. Beat together eggs and sugar for 5 minutes until thick. Add oil and beat for 1 minute. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Combine carrot, pineapple, walnuts and orange zest. Fold into egg mixture. Fold in dry ingredients. Spoon mixture into prepared tin. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave in tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. When cold, spread with Cream Cheese Icing and garnish with orange zest and coconut.

The handy conversion table in the front of the book told me that 180 C is about 350 F. I did not check my bundt pan to see if it was anywhere near the size of a "20 cm ring tin." I figured it was roughly the same shape and I'd keep a close eye on it while it's in the oven.

For the New Zealand brand ingredients, obviously, use whatever counterparts you'd normally use. Of course I used Bob's Red Mill GF All-Purpose Baking Flour. I also used chopped pecans instead of walnuts because I like them better. I had the orange zest on hand so I added it. The can of pineapple I had said 227 grams, but after draining I assumed it would be close enough. (I reserved the juice in case I needed to make the batter moister.)

This was not a quick recipe for me. I'm slow in the kitchen. First I sifted together my dry ingredients, then I grated the carrots--by hand--and put the carrot mixture together. Then I turned on the oven, greased the pan (I didn't use paper because my pan is rounded), and got the eggs-sugar mixture going.

It was at this point I learned that you should not stick a rubber spatula into a KitchenAid Mixer while it's turned on. A kitchen angel must have been watching me because thankfully the damage was minimal. I think the worst part was the awful clanking sound as the whisk went awry and the bowl popped off the stand. Mike came running into the kitchen, certain I had chopped my fingers off or something. But not even any eggs-sugar had spilled! Mike was able to bend the whisk back into useable shape and I learned a very valuable lesson.

The rest of the mixing went quickly. The batter poured easily into my bundt pan and I put it in the oven. Somewhere between 40 and 45 minutes I checked it, and it was golden brown on top and the toothpick came out clean so I took it out. It slid from the pan gracefully and looked so pretty! Nice and golden brown.

This morning I made the icing. I used the cream cheese icing that goes with the carrot cake recipe I had planned on using in the Best-Ever Wheat- and Gluten-Free Baking Book. This book lists the ingredients for the icing but forgot the instructions.
3 oz (85 g) GF cream cheese, softened
2 cups (200 g) GF confectioners' sugar
2 Tbs (30 ml) milk
1 tsp almond flavoring or extract

I put the cream cheese, milk, and almond extract into my mixing bowl, started it up, and added the sugar gradually. This made a thick frosting. I wanted a thin, drizzly icing so I added quite a bit of water until I got the consistency I wanted.

As I was spooning the icing over the cake, Mike said, "Wow, that looks like a picture!" This cake is so pretty and so delicious that it might have to make an appearance at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

I think carrot cake is a recipe that works well with the gluten-free "translation" because the carrots and the pineapple make the batter very moist. Moisture is always a factor in gluten-free baking. I did not need to add the reserved pineapple juice--this batter was perfect.

This icing and cake combination is perfect. This is a very understated, mild carrot cake, and the small dose of super-sweet icing complements it perfectly. I guess it turned out to be serendipitous that I didn't have enough eggs for the recipe I first wanted to use, which has more spice and sugar. Mike's always claimed he hates carrot cake, but he likes this one.

**Dairy-free if you omit the cream cheese icing.


Midnight Mummy said...

Thanx for this! I am in New Zealand and this is not the recipe in my Edmonds cookbook, the recipe I had didnt seem quite right though so have tried this one youve posted and its in the oven now! My first attempt at a carrot cake :) Thanx

Stephanie said...

You're welcome! I hope the cake comes out yummy!



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