Sunday, April 26, 2009

Carrot & Almond Cream Cheese Cake

Spring and summer time always makes me want to bake and decorate cakes. Ironically, it is not the best time as the warm air around is not good for handling any type of icing and for an amateur like myself, decorating is always a very challenging task to undertake.

I never give carrot cake a miss at the cafe. Despite its humble ingredient compared to the more luxurious cheese and chocolate, carrot cake gives me a sense of homey and comforting taste which is slightly sweet and earthy and pairs so well with the cream cheese frosting. Although it is dense compared to any sponge or mousse cakes, there is just something very satisfying from eating a slice of this cake.

Initially I was planning to whip up a recipe with the combination of cheese and carrot mousse, moulded on a plain genoise cake and glazed with carrot sugar glaze. During the course, I changed my mind and ended up with the old fashioned carrot cake but more lighter in texture and content together with a whipped cream cheese filling and frosting that is light on the palate on this very hot weekend day. However said, with cream cheese presence, this is definitely not a skinny cake to indulge in and to make me feel less guilty, I made it smaller in size, measuring 4 inches in diameter, with 3 layers of cake and 2 layers of filling.

To reduce the density of the original carrot cake, I used a genoise base that required only a little amount of butter and I added almond flakes instead of the rich walnut. Genoise cakes are mostly dry and the addition of carrot made it more moist. Although the process of making genoise involved more steps than the usual cakes as the eggs are required to be beaten first in the bain marie style and continued to be beaten with the mixer to triple its volume, to be followed by folding of the flour and other ingredients in batches, the end result is usually very good with a steady structure cake that yields little crumbs and pairs with any filling and can absorb any soaking syrup well.

I first whipped the cream cheese with lemon juice and sugar to get it soft and creamy. Whipped cream was then added into the cream cheese mixture, which instantly lightened the mixture and I added some gelatin to the mixture so that the filling and frosting will hold up better on the cake. The cream cheese mixture was then chilled for 2 hours to firm up while I made the garnishing carrots from marzipan or almond paste that I got from my local grocery. I seldom see cake shops using this confectionery on cakes here, as the smell of almond is very pungent and it can be too sweet but it is very popular in England. The original form of almond paste has a softer texture than the commercial fondant and cold hands powdered with confectioner sugar will ensure that the paste doesn't get sticky and mushy when being moulded into the required shapes. I used flat leaf parsley for the leaves as it doesn't have a strong herb smell.

Although my piping and frosting skills still have a long way to perfection, the texture and appearance of carrot cake which is rustic and coarse did complemented my homemade look piping skills. The frosting texture was very smooth and I find it easier to work with than my previous buttercream attempts. As you may have noticed, I tried to frost as thin as possible so as not to overload on the fatty calories and bust my diet for the week! The presence of the almond slices gave an additional taste and crunch texture to the cake, which goes hand in hand with the carrot and not overpowering each other.


terri@adailyobsession said...

i love carrot cake too, n i prefer them w/o cinnamon powder. i lov the texture of ur cake, i can almost taste it, yum!

Lily Anette said...

Terri: I never tasted a carrot cake with cinnamon. Anyhow, I think it is a spice only suitable for certain recipes. I love your cakes too!

shoppingmum said...

Hi Lily Anette, thanks for dropping by my blog. :) You have lots of great recipes here, and I hope that I have more time for baking so that I can try them out. :)

Plain Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Plain Jane said...

looks yum, J!