Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Carrot and cardamom cake

Curiously, I've become a convert to carrot cake. Not so curious perhaps, when I report that this recipe comes from a café I consider possibly the most perfect in all the world - that of the Rosendals Trägåd, a beautiful biodynamic orchard on an island in Stockholm. If you find yourself in that city, you really must go, though June rather than January would be advised. In Swedish summer, it recalls a scene from a Carl Larsson painting - nut-brown blondes of all ages grazing on cardamom-scented cakes in the dappled light of apple and pear trees. 

Made moist with oil and carrots, infused with Scandi staples cinnamon and cardamom, and lashed with creamy lemon icing, this is cake to convert anyone who believes (as was my firm opinion for most of my life) that vegetables have no place at all in baked goods. I have relaxed this stance once before, for the beloved Bourke St Bakery, whose carrot cake I've blogged already on this site. That recipe - though sublime - is somewhat fiddly. This one has the advantage of being made in one bowl, and once cooked, needs only to be cooled and icing slathered on top. Australian summers are a little harsher than Nordic ones, so keep it indoors unless you choose a mild day for a picnic. The icing is the issue and believe me, you don't want to skip that. One solution could be to keep it separately in an esky and pile it on just before serving. If it oozes a little, all the better.

Cardamom and carrot cake
Recipe adapted from The New Nordic by Simon Bajada, as published on SBS Food

I used vegetable oil instead of sunflower, as that's what I had to hand. Any neutral-flavoured oil would work fine. This is glorious with a cup of black coffee, fika-style.



225 ml sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
310 g caster sugar
170 g grated carrot
3 eggs
240 g flour
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp crushed cardamom seeds
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
40 g chopped walnuts
200 g unsalted butter
200 g cream cheese
180 g icing (confectioners') sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
Using a mixer on its highest setting (with the whisk attachment if you have one), beat the oil and sugar together for about 5 minutes, until white.

Keep beating while you add the carrot and the eggs, one at a time. Next add the flour, spices, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. Mix for a few minutes, then stir in the walnuts with a spatula.
Grease a 23 cm round cake tin and pour in the batter. 

Bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in its tin for 10 minutes then turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Make the icing by beating together all the ingredients until smooth.

Ensure the cake is completely cool before spreading over the icing.

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