First, a warning: this is an overly-enthusiastic blog post today because…IT IS MY BIRTHDAY! That’s right, I still get REALLY excited about my birthday. Even though I’m clinging to my mid-thirties, like a child I still get giddy whenever August 26th rolls around. I look forward to the phone calls with my family and friends. I wait for the e-mails, cards, and Facebook wishes. I love it all.
Now a second warning: I’m going to get a bit sentimental. The truth is, I still love my birthday so much because I look back on my life thus far, and forward to another wonderful year. I’m so fortunate to be married to my wonderful husband, and I have two beautiful children. I had the benefit of growing up in a loving family and then marry into another. Thanks for having me, Mom and Dad. Here’s to many more great years!
So what about the food? Rather than make a birthday cake, I decided to go with one of my all-time favorites. This carrot cake is easily one of the best I’ve ever eaten. After giving my neighbors a sample, they agreed that this is as good as carrot cake gets. It has the perfect amount of nuts– they provide just enough texture and flavor without overwhelming the dessert. It has no raisins, which, to be honest, I don’t really miss. The cake is dense, as you’d expect, but not heavy– in short, it’s perfect. The two secrets to this cake are oranges and limes. Freshly-squeezed orange juice and a little zest really add a fragrant punch, while the icing– laced with lime juice and zest– make it unforgettable.
The Recipe: Carrot Cake with Lime Mascarpone Icing
For the Cake:
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar
5 large free-range or organic eggs, separated
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 1/2 cups of self-rising flour, sifted
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 cup ground almonds
4 ounces / 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted, plus more for topping the cake
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
10 ounces/ 3 cups organic carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
pinch of kosher salt
For the Lime Mascarpone Icing:
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
8 ounces full-fat cream cheese
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
zest and juice of 1 lime
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line with parchment paper a 9 – inch square or round cake pan. (Note: I used mini-loaf pans and yielded 6). Beat the butter and sugar together by hand or using a stand mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time and add the orange zest and juice. Gently stir in the sifted flour and baking powder, and add the ground almonds, walnuts, spices and the grated carrots. Mix together well.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, then gently fold them into the cake mix. Scoop the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 50 minutes (less if using the mini-loaf pans) until golden and risen. To check cake using a toothpick, insert into cake for 5 seconds — it’s done when it comes out clean. If it feels sticky, bake a bit longer. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.
To make the icing: mix all of the ingredients except the lime juice together. Carefully add 1 teaspoon at a time. Making sure the icing doesn’t get too thin. Spread generously on the cake and top with walnuts. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Cook With Jamie Cookbook
Thanks again for stopping by Relishing It today. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend — I know I will.
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