This Carrot Sponge Cake was originally meant to be a roulade, however, it decided it didn’t like being rolled up and refused to pose nicely in our photo shoot. So, I caved and said okay, you can lay flat if that makes you more comfortable and it was happy and played nicely from there on in.
It’s an absolutely delicious cake with the recipe plucked from my pastry school folder. It’s more of a sponge than a cake as it has no chemical leavener (baking soda or baking powder) and just relies on the volume of the whipped egg whites to make it light and airy. Also, to help keep this sponge cake light, the carrots are cooked and then mashed rather than just grated.
I’ve filled and topped it with a soft, cream cheese icing that contains whipped cream, giving it an almost cheesecake/dessert-like status.
AND, as an added bonus, this cake contains almond meal and NO FLOUR, so is 100% gluten-free!
It tastes excellent…make it!
225 g carrots (2 medium-sized or 1 very large)
1 medium-sized orange (you will need 1 tablespoon of its zest and if you’re not using brandy, 2 tablespoons of its juice)
4 large eggs (I used size 7’s)
2 cups / 200 g ground almonds
2 tablespoons Brandy (optional)
½ cup + 2 tablespoons / 140 g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 x 250 g pottle cream cheese
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon / 50 g icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup / 160 ml full cream
3 tablespoons each of walnut pieces, finely chopped dark chocolate and thinly sliced dried apricots (5 or 6 whole)
- As I mentioned above, for a larger cake, simply make two separate sponges to sandwich together and double the icing and toppings.
- Because we are using the carrots in a somewhat temperamental sponge, it pays to weigh them out to the required amount (or pretty close to)…just to be on the safe side!
- You might like to replace the walnuts with pecans or sliced almonds.
STEP BY STEP
For this, you will need a 34 cm / 13″ x 24 cm / 9 ½” (or very close to) swiss roll tin.
Chop the ends off and peel the carrot(s). Then slice them into ½ cm / ¼” rounds.
Place them in a small saucepan, cover them with water and over a high heat, bring them to the boil.
Once boiling, turn the heat down to where the water is at a simmer (softly boiling) and cook them for 15 – 20 minutes or until they are easily pierced with a fork.
Then drain them really well and return them to the saucepan (making sure there is no water remaining in it first).
Mash them up really well with a potato masher and leave them aside to cool.
Whilst waiting for the carrots to cook, zest the orange and if you aren’t adding Brandy to the cake, squeeze 2 tablespoons of juice from it also.
Lightly spray the swiss roll tin and then line it with non-stick baking paper (use more spray to help hold any flappy bits to the sides).
Next, separate the eggs into two medium-sized bowls and set them aside (if one bowl is bigger than the other, use that one for the yolks).
- Make sure there are no sneaky bits of yolk in the whites as the whites will not whip up properly…And if you do get some yolk in the whites, scooping it out with an eggshell is the best way to remove it (same with bits of shell that may escape too).
By now the carrot will be cool enough to add to, so add the orange zest, almond meal and Brandy or if you are not using Brandy, the orange juice.
Mix it together, really well and set aside.
Now add ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon of the castor sugar to the egg yolks…
…and using electric beaters on a medium-speed, beat it together for around 2 minutes or until it has thickened and paled in colour.
Go on to add the carrot and almond mixture to the beaten yolks and use a large spoon to fold it all together. Leave it aside for now.
Time to turn the oven on…gettin’ down to the nitty gritty!
So, preheat the oven to 170°C / 325°F fan-bake oven or 190°C / 375°F conventional oven, on bake, with a rack situated in the centre.
Next, add the remaining caster sugar (¼ cup + 1 tablespoon) and the cream of tartar to the egg whites and…
…using the beaters again (still on a medium-speed), whip the two together for around 7 – 10 minutes or stop as soon as it is stiff-peaked (the peaks stand straight up and do not flop over when the beaters are lifted from the mixture).
- Best to make sure the beaters are well cleaned and dry after using them to beat the yolks as egg whites don’t like fat.
- Mine took 8 ½ minutes, but if your bowl happens to be larger than mine or the medium-speed on your beaters is faster or slower than mine, or you don’t move the bowl and beaters around as much as I do, yours might take longer! Just make sure you take them to the stiff peak stage.
Add the whipped egg whites to the carrot mix and using that large spoon again, gently fold the egg-whites though until just combined.
- Be super careful when folding whipped egg-whites through something. If you do it too fast you may knock the air out that you so carefully added in the first place!
Spray the lined tin with the non-stick cooking spray and then pour the sponge mix in, gently spreading it out.
Place it in the oven for 20 minutes or until it has started to shrink away from the sides, is quite brown all over and a skewer or small sharp knife inserted into the centre comes out clean and dry.
- If your tin is smaller than mine it will take a little longer and if it’s bigger than mine, the cake will be flatter so will be ready sooner.
Once done leave it in the tin, on top of the oven, or on a cooling rack to cool for at least 20 minutes.
Next, lay out another piece of non-stick baking paper on a large cutting board and carefully flip the tin over, so the cake ends up upside down on the paper.
- It helps if you angle one side of the board up to meet the tin.
Go on to remove the tin and…
…gently peel back the baking paper and leave it to cool further whilst you make the frosting. 🙂
Cream Cheese Frosting
Place the cream cheese, the icing sugar and the vanilla extract into a medium-sized bowl…
…and use the beaters again, on a medium speed, to beat it until it’s smooth.
Pour in the cream…
…and continue beating for 2 – 3 minutes or stop as soon as it’s stiff-peaked like the egg-whites (scrape the bowl down halfway through).
- It’s a lovely soft frosting but must be at stiff peak stage or will be too floppy.
Slice the cake in half and place half on a plate or serving board (topside down) and spread two-thirds of the frosting over it.
Place the other half of the cake on (top-side up), spread the remaining frosting all over.
Then place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Once set a little, use a sharp knife to slice the cake into pieces.
- Use a damp cloth to wipe the knife clean between cuts so as not to get crumbs on the top.
JUST ABOUT DONE!
Finely chop up the walnut pieces or the pecan nuts if using them (if using sliced almonds, no need to chop them up).
Also, finely chop up the chocolate and very thinly slice up the apricots.
Sprinkle it all over the top…like so…
Keepin’ it fresh – Because the frosting contains cream this is best kept, covered with cling wrap, in the fridge for up to 4 days.