OTTOLENGHI’S CARROT WALNUT CAKE … with mascarpone frosting

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”
Jim Davis
That Ottolenghi cookbook has me completely smitten! I think it follows me around, planting itself on a table near me, calling me softly. It will not rest till I pick it up! It’s not just a book, it’s a trend, a passion, is addictive and it’s making 2010 a wonderful foodie year for me. All thanks to Hilda who gave it to me when I met her at the FBC’09.
You see mentions of the book popping up in blog posts and twitter ever so often,. Joy!  It is tone of the most satisfying books that I own! So inspired by the book, I bought  some nice red juicy carrots and set off to bake my first ever carrot cake.
Happiness was eating this beautiful cake. It looks good, it smells good , and tastes even better. There’s something about it! Ever so satisfying! Something more… yes good as good can be, and yet no butter! I decreased the butter in the frosting, and used mascarpone instead of cream cheese . This was also probably my first cake with just a splattering of rosting on top, leaving the sides unfrosted! Charming! I even added home made marzipan carrots on top to complete the picture.
The son came by and asked ‘Why carrots Mama?‘ In panic I answered, “Because I mixed these colours and all I could think of was carrots!” He gave me a weird look, and said, “OK, but you could have made butterflies or something with the same colours!”  Didn’t want to risk telling him at the outset that it was carrot cake. Can’t trust their reactions to veggies in cake! Eventually, they loved it!

Carrot & Walnut Cake
Adapted minimally from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook
Cake:
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 egg whites
250g sunflower oil
350g vanilla sugar
60g chopped walnuts
175g roughly grated carrot (1 large approximately)
Pinch salt
Frosting:
50gms soft butter
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1-2 tbsp powdered sugar
1/3 cup mascarpone
1/3 cup roasted walnuts, chopped

Method:
Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease a 9″ loose bottomed ring baking tin. Grease it lightly, and line the base with baking parchment.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and spices.
Separate 2 of the eggs and lightly whisk together the two yolks with the 1 whole egg. Set the 2 egg whites to one side.
Using a mixer or electric hand whisk, beat together the oil and sugar for about 1 minute. Continue to beat on a low speed and slowly add the egg yolk/egg mixture. Add the walnuts, carrot and then the sifted dry ingredients. Be careful not to over mix.
Now transfer the mixture into another large bowl. Thoroughly wash and dry the original bowl before adding the egg whites along with a pinch of salt.
Then whisk the egg whites on a high speed until they form firm peaks.
Next, gently fold the egg whites into the carrot mixture in 3 additions. Again, be careful not to over mix; it is fine to have streaks of white remaining in the mixture.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1-1/4 hours, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre. If the cake starts going dark before the middle is cooked, cover the top of it with kitchen foil.
Let the cake cool completely, then remove from the tin. You can freeze the cake at this stage, if you like. Just wrap it in a double layer of parchment paper and put it in a polythene freezer bag.

Frosting:

Beat the mascarpone with a whisk until smooth. In a separate bowl,beat the butter, icing sugar and honey in the mixer until light and airy.
Fold together the mascarpone and butter mixture. Finally, spread the frosting on top of the cake and sprinkle with the chopped, toasted walnuts.
 ♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
I got a comment on my facebook from Sherry in CA who said… “Love this cake and it is so perfect since Easter is coming and that means bunnies! and bunnies mean carrots! and so this will find a nice place on the Brunch table.
…so am sending this off to Faith and Brandy @ All Through The Year Cheer for their event All Through the Year Cheer as a recipe that fits into the current holiday season for Easter!


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TOMATO-CARROT SOUP…DELICATELY FLAVOURED WITH STAR ANISE

“Men are like soup: you always want to have one on the back burner, just in case.”
Unattributed feminist quote
Tomato-Carrot Soup with Star Anise
Tried my hand at a tomato-carrot soup this morning, flavoured delicately with a spice that has intrigued me endlessly over the past few days. None other than the pretty star anise ! A nice & gentle vegetarian soup, beautifully flavoured & great for the winter chill that has descended upon us. This is an adaptation of a soup my mother makes almost everyday in the winter months.Star Anise…the pretty spice!
Star anise plays a key role in the slow cooked dishes that characterize Eastern Chinese cuisine. Its licorice flavor enhances red cooked dishes. It is also the secret ingredient in many Indian stews and curries. And yes…literally…’No croutons required’!!
Ingredients:
Tomatoes – 8-10 medium / quartered
Carrots – 2 / chopped roughly
Onion – 1 / quartered
Garlic – 2 cloves
Red Lentil (Masoor dal) – 1 tbsp (optional/I add it to increase food value)
Star anise – 2 flowers
Salt to taste
Butter – 1 tbsp
Freshly ground white pepper
Method:
  • Put all the vegetables + lentils + star anise in a cooker or pan with salt & about 2 cups of water.
  • Cook until soft.
  • Remove the star anise (reserve for garnishing if you like) & run the soup in a blender . Strain.
  • Take some butter in a pan & saute the white pepper for a minute. Turn the soup into the pan & simmer till it comes to a boil. Serve with a drizzle of cream & freshly ground pepper.

Warm soup for the soul…pipe a heart on top & you’re all set for V-day!!

No Croutons Required‘ a new monthly food blogging event alternately hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen and Tinned Tomatoes. Each month the host will invite bloggers around the world to submit a vegetarian soup or salad recipe, sometimes with a theme, sometimes not. The theme for February is simply vegetarian soups…which fits me in quite warmly! My entry’s on its way…

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