Often to obtain outstanding results you need to make a considerable amount of effort. In cooking, especially at home, this is not necessarily true – there are so many corners you can cut shamelessly and without anyone noticing. However there are a few occasions where a lot of work is involved. A lot of concentration, organisation, preparation, and dishes to be washed. Some recipes are not worth it, some of them are. This cake is definitely one of them flavourwise. If you want to try it, be prepared for a lot of work – nothing difficult, but there is a lot of work, and it takes longer than most other cakes.
On the other hand a lot of home cooks will know that often you can get a very high ‘wow’ factor, leaving people to think you are a culinary genius, with relatively little effort, presentation wise. Of this particular recipe, maybe you can get something that looks ok – I did not succeed this time – but this will never look as good as it tastes. It looks like basically any cake does, not very fancy. I tried baking it in cupcakes, the lazy girl’s trick to a fancy dessert, but some of the moisture was gone, so I ‘d advise you against it. From a commitment point of view, this is a ‘special occasion’ cake, but it does not look like one. It may not look like much. But let your guests taste it – you’ll have all the wow factor you may want and even some more. By the way, for added chic factor, it is a recipe by Pierre Hermé.
I made some changes to the recipes, because I suspected that the basic idea was so good that you can adapt it to a variety of situations. They worked perfectly. Unfortunately I baked it in a silicone mold, and the unmolding was a total disaster. A quarter of the cake stayed on the mold. Well, I am not a girl to lose my spirit that easily (ok, I am – what actually happened is, after crying for a while and swearing I am done with my career on cooking, I faced the bitter reality that no other dessert would be there, and I know from experience that an ugly cake is better than no cake). I manually unmolded the missing part morsel by morsel, put it back on its place, as evenly as I could, and covered it all with some zesty icing. Did it work? Presentation wise, not really. Flavour wise, yes, yes, yes.
And when I actually came to serving it, cut in neat slices on a small dish with a fork, it almost looked pretty. Then we tasted it. And everybody was ready to swear it was the most attractive cake they have ever seen.
Who needs beauty, when you have personality?
Carrot, lemon and macadamia cake
2 egg yolks
30 gr caster sugar (for yolks)
3 egg whites
30 gr caster sugar (for whites)
45 gr carrot puree
70 gr grated carrots
70 gr macadamia nuts
50 gr peeled almonds
zest of one lemon
35 gr flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
For the icing:
125 gr icing sugar
zest of half lemon
juice of one lemon
- Steam the carrots, and when soft, puree them (you’ll need about half a carrot)
- In the meanwhile toast almonds and macadamia in the oven at 200 (if not already toasted)
- Grate 70 gr carrot (that is one carrot roughly)
- Set aside 20 grams macadamia; grind remaining macadamia and almonds very thinly, using guess what? yes, my old friend hand blender (will I eventually buy a proper food processor? Who knows! If you have one, though, feel free to use it).
- Roughly chop the 20 grams macadamia.
- Heat the oven to 180.
- Now let’s start with the real job. Whisk egg yolks with their sugar until foamy and quite light.
- Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form, then add sugar and whisk some more until well incorporated.
- Mix egg whites with egg yolks. Add grated carrots, carrot puree, grated lemon zest, almond and macadamia powder, mixing very delicately trying to loose as little volume as possible.
- Sift flour with baking powder and salt.
- Delicately incorporate the flour into the batter.
- Pour in a well buttered and floured rectangular cake tin, quite small, about a litre capacity (don’t do my mistake and skip this step..)
- Bake for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden and a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clear.
- Meanwhile, prepare the icing. Whizz -agian, with the faithful hand blender – the sugar with the lemon zest.
- Add juice of lemon, until you have a consistency runny enough to be poured, but not liquid.
- When the cake is cooked, let it cool and only then try to unmould it. At that point, whether you are successful or not, ice the cake allowing for artistic effects in the way icing falls on the cake’s sides. I used a spoon to this end.
- Serve completely cool, but it is better to serve it when it is very fresh – next day it is not so good.