I love Carrot Cake and as we are approaching Easter with really big steps, what is more fitting than a lovely and moist Carrot Cake? It has spices, oranges, nuts, burnt butter and, of course, carrots!
A moist Carrot cake with tarragon and orange.
- 300g brown sugar
- 300g unsalted butter
- 4 eggs
- 150g of finely chopped pistachios
- 130g of finely chopped walnuts or pecans
- 100g applesauce
- 300g flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking boda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons tarragon (freshly chopped or dried)
- 300g finely grated carrots
- Zest of one untreated orange
- Freshly squeezed juice of two oranges
- Powdered sugar
- For the browned butter: Start browning your butter by putting it into a little saucepan and heat it over medium heat for about 5 minutes. The butter starts melting and then changes its colour to a light hazelnut (in French it is Beurre Noisette because of that). Do not leave during that process, it can burn quickly. Skim of the little flakes that start to appear with a spoon as they also burn quickly and leave a bitter taste. Remove from heat and let it rest for now.
- For the applesauce: You can either make it yourself or just get some from the store – but make sure it has no added sugar!
- For the carrots: Peel them and use a fine grater.
- For the orange zest: It is important to use an untreated orange for that. Wash it properly and then remove the zest – try to avoid ripping of the white bits as it is very bitter. Use the same orange for the juice and then squeeze out a second one.
- For the nuts: Chop them finely or pulse them in your mixer for a couple of times. You can roast them in the pan over medium heat to your liking.
- For the Bundt pan: Butter it properly to prevent the cake from sticking.
- For the batter: Whisk your eggs with the brown sugar until the brown sugar starts to dissolve. The mixture fluffs up and roughly triples in its size. Now add the applesauce and your vanilla bean paste, mix it in and pour in your browned butter. Add in the fresh ginger and 2 tablespoons tarragon, the orange zest and 2 tablespoons of the orange juice, beat the mix for 3 minutes on low to medium speed. Combine your dry ingredients in a big bowl. Pour the wet mix over your dry ingredients and fold it with a spatula or wooden spoon into the dry ingredients until well combined. Don’t whisk, just fold. Add about 2/3 of your nuts and your grated carrots. Fold them in until all is mixed well.
- Baking the cake: Preheat your oven to 150°C. Add your batter into a Bundt pan (about 24cm) and bake it at 160°C. After 30 minutes, check with a wooden skewer if it is baked through, if it comes out clean, take it out of the oven. If not, continue to bake it until your pick comes out clean.
- Meanwhile (using my best Stephen Colbert voice): Pour the leftover orange juice into a little saucepan and add the 1 tablespoon of tarragon you have left and heat it over low to medium heat. That way you infuse the tarragon flavour into the juice. After 10 minutes remove the saucepan from the heat, place a fine mesh over a bowl and then pour your orange juice over the sieve. That way the tarragon gets filtered out. Add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar to the juice and mix it well. It will be your drizzle for the cake.
- After baking the cake: Let it cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, then remove the pan. Poke small holes into the top of the cake using the wooden skewer and pour 1/3 of the orange drizzle over the cake. This will make it really nice and moist.
- Decorate the cake: You now have about 2/3 of the juice left, add more powdered sugar until it is thick enough to act as a glaze. If it gets to thick, just add more orange juice. Check your cake, it should still be slightly warm. If so, spoon the glaze over the top of the cake, let it dry for a couple of minutes, then sprinkle the leftover roasted nuts over your cake.
You can add raisins (yuck!) to the cake as well. If you want to use pineapple instead, just exchange it with the applesauce.