The truth is and I am just saying it: I was busy but in a positive way. My family had been visiting me, I had been trying hard to soak up every moment of this rare days where we are all together and enjoying ourselves. My last three weeks had been the best of this year, we celebrated my birthday, had been on vacation in Florida, had the best food Memphis has to offer and did some amazing baking, grilling and cooking. I had been marveled about seeing all the food disappearing faster than I can keep supplies coming.
Also the first time since three years, we had all been on the same continent for my little sisters birthday. I promised her a birthday cake and she chose a carrot cake. Call it karma but I already bookmarked a recipe for a carrot cake in the new baking book I got for my birthday two weeks earlier. It took me some minutes to talk her into this because she thought tahini belongs into hummus and not into her birthday cake. Point taken! I can’t deny I felt not just like a risk-taker but also like a thrill-seeker with an apron as I did not just add tahini but also olive oil to the batter. And you wouldn’t see this recipe here today if it wouldn’t turned out good. Not the right words: it was one of the best carrot cakes ever and I had
a few a lot…
I adapted this recipe from Dan Lepard’s “Short & Sweet“. Many of you might know him from his Guardian column. I have to admit, I didn’t, I learned about this baking book in an article and was even more eager to lay my hands on it, as I read somewhere (maybe a review?) that it would be the only thing to save if your house would burn down. And it has to be a good baking book if I make my sister order it in Britain and bring it over in her suitcase all the way from Germany. It started with one bookmark for the carrot cake and now has colorful post-its all over, next on my list: banana blondie from page 204 or here. How does brazil nut toffee sound to you? Yes I thought so.
carrot, hazelnut and tahini cake with lime cream cheese frosting
I only have extra virgin olive oil on hand, if you have a mild and inexpensive olive oil in you pantry you can use this instead and skip the vegetable oil, this would be 125 ml / 1/2 cup altogether. If you don’t want to use olive oil at all use the same amount of sunflower (like mentioned in Short & Sweet) or other neutral vegetable oil.
The original recipe calls for pomegranate syrup or black treacle, I used sugar-beet syrup (Zuckerrübensirup which is popular in the area in Germany where my hometown is, but it’s hard to get here (yes we smuggled it). Though I was able to find some from time to time in a well stocked supermarket. I mention black treacle in the recipe instead.
75 g / 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
75 ml / 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or vegetable oil)
50 ml / 1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp black treacle (dark syrup)
225 g / 1 heaping cup turbinado sugar or light brown sugar
1 + 1/4 Tbsp orange zest (from about 1 orange)
3 large eggs, divided
100 ml / 7 Tbsp fresh orange juice
100 g / 3/4 cup roasted chopped hazelnuts
200 g / 1 3/4 cups finely grated carrots
175 g all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
Preheat your oven to 175 C / 350 F and grease your 24 cm / 9.5 inch springform pan.
In a small bowl measure and mix dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and set aside.
In a large bowl mix tahini, oil, treacle or other dark syrup, sugar and orange zest. Add one whole egg and two egg yolks (save the two egg whites for later) mix until well incorporated.
Add orange juice, hazelnuts, carrots and stir well. Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Beat remaining egg whites until soft peaks form and fold into the batter. Place batter into springform pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center comes out without crumbs clinging to it.
Let cool completely on a wire rack before applying the lime cream cheese frosting.
lime cream cheese frosting
Also adapted from Dan Lepard’s Short & Sweet. Check out his book for more tips on frosting!
1 package cream cheese (226 g / 8 oz.)
110 g / 1 stick unsalted butter
finely grated zest of one lime
100 g / 3/4 + 1 Tbsp cup powdered sugar
Make sure all ingredients are very soft otherwise they won’t incorporate.
In a medium mixing bowl beat butter, sugar and about a third of the cream cheese. Add remaining cream cheese and continue mixing until smooth and fluffy.
Spread frosting evenly on top and wall of the carrot cake, keep refrigerated and the cake stays fresh for several days. Mine lasted 4 days without drying out or loosing flavor.