Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ginger Carrot Cake

Life has been a bit crazy lately, and it seems I haven't baked. Which is odd, because when the going gets tough, I get into the kitchen. But after I make it into the kitchen and bake, the next question becomes, "Who's going to eat this?" So finding an excuse to bake, especially after the December excesses, becomes a bit of a challenge.

But finally, after househunting and editing and running around town trying to get my paperwork in order, I decided that I would make a cake to serve as part of a little drinks party we had with our neighbor. I made a kind of grown-up pigs in blankets, and these and these, and there was cheese and nuts and this cake. And Champagne. And there were just 5 of us! But I think we all enjoyed it.

There are two main characteristics of this cake: the very intense ginger taste and its moisture and sweetness. The ginger--2 ounces is a lot of fresh ginger!--almost took the cake over to the savory side. And the amount of oil and milk and eggs really made the cake dense and moist. A bit too much for my taste...

Maybe I didn't bake it enough--though usually overbaking is my forte. But this cake is definitely in the like but not love camp. Claire, my Number One Ginger Fan, loved it, however--and she's not much of a dessert person. So there's definitely an audience for this.

So I'm going to recommend this for people who enjoy ginger a lot and who like a really moist, dense cake. Here's the recipe.

Ginger Carrot Cake

2/3 c. (2.25 oz.) walnuts
2 oz. preserved or candied ginger (who can find preserved ginger any more?)
2 oz. (a piece about 3 by 1.5 inches) fresh ginger
3/4 lb. carrots
2 c. (8 oz.) sifted flour
1 c. (4.5 oz.) sifted whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
5 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
scant 2 c. (11 oz.) sugar
1 c. (8 oz.) tasteless salad oil (I used grapeseed and a bit of hazelnut)
1 c. (8 oz.) milk

Heat the oven to 350. Get out a Bundt or other tube pan and grease it. Chop the walnuts fine in a food processor. Put them in the pan and tap them around to coat the pan. Tap the extra nuts out onto a piece of paper or something and save them for the top of the cake.
For the carrots and ginger, you can use a food processor or a box grater. If you use a food processor, I would use the metal blade to mince it (turn on the machine and drop small pieces through the feed tube) and then put in the grating disc for the carrots. I used a box grater and used the big holes for the carrots, the small holes for the fresh ginger, and the slicer for the candied ginger. In summary, you want the carrots and fresh ginger grated and the candied ginger sliced thin. OK, the hard work is done now. The rest is a piece of cake.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. In the large bowl of a mixer (or just a large bowl--you can do this by hand with a whisk), beat the eggs at high speed for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and sugar and beat until well mixed. Then add the oil and milk and beat that until well mixed. Add the dry ingredients and beat only until incorporated. If you're using a mixer, take the bowl out of the mixer and add the carrots and gingers. Mix that well, making sure there are no giant clumps of anything. This is a thin batter; pour it into the prepared pan and sprinkle on the remaining walnuts.
Bake for 1 hour and 5 to 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top springs back when gently pressed. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then unmold and let cool completely. Enjoy a slice for breakfast, as an afternoon snack, or as a bit of dessert. I bet it would be fabulous with cream cheese.

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