Saturday 13 April 2013

Apple Carrot Cake with Honey & Lemon Ricotta Frosting

I am sure I can’t be alone in having a recipe folder on my computer of ‘must bake’ recipes that I have gathered over the years from food blogs, magazine articles and other random places. I was recently having a sort out and came across a recipe for Carrot and apple cake with a lime cream cheese frosting that I immediately remembered I’d longed to bake the first time I saw it on The Passionate Cook blog. Image my surprise (and horror) at discovering the recipe was from 2009 – 3 years ago and I still hadn’t baked it! I dread to think how many other recipes I’ve got saved, waiting patiently to be baked. Far too many I fear.

Anyway, I decided it had waited long enough and a few weeks ago I finally got round to baking it – with a few of my own twists naturally. The thing that first attracted me to the recipe was:
1)      it's carrot cake – my absolute favourite
2)      it also contained apple – another big bonus
3)      it looked so incredibly, unbelievably moist

Carrot cake is probably my favourite cake. I just love the combination of textures, flavours, spices, crunch…delicious! Looking at the ingredients list it seemed to be lacking some of my favourite carrot cake components and so I decided to tinker with the recipe and add some sultans, walnuts, extra spice and brown sugar in place of some of the white sugar.

I also changed the frosting from being a lime cream cheese to a honey & lemon ricotta. Why? Well the cake itself sounded relatively healthy with all the apple and carrot, so I wanted something a little lighter and fresher. Ricotta flavoured with lemon and only marginally sweetened with a little spoonful of honey seemed to fit the bill.

The baked cake was certainly very very moist. However, on day of baking I found it quite tricky to cut due to the strands of apple and carrot, which were not easy to slice through due to the sponge mix being so soft and tender. Instead it tended to snare onto the knife and drag the crumb structure apart as I tried to slice it. This didn’t affect the taste – which was spicy, fruity and flavoursome, but didn’t make for great presentation. However, after a night in the fridge the cake firmed up and was much easier to slice.

I actually preferred it better the second day, firmer yet still very moist. The flavours had mingled together giving a more well rounded general flavour. The frosting too had firmed up, the excess liquid in the ricotta being absorbed by the cake, making it become more like a cheesecake style top than the softer, wetter mix it had been originally. It tasted very fresh and I liked that it was barely sweet, giving a nice contrast to the sweeter cake beneath.

The cake was delicious and I loved the slight chew or crunch from the added walnuts and raisins. It’s not my ultimate carrot cake, a recipe for which I’ve have yet to find, but it’s certainly a tasty version of one. It’s cooked at a low temperature which adds to it being a very soft cake and making it more of a pudding cake than an afternoon tea cake. The apple adds a great freshness when paired with the carrot. Use a sharp cooking apple for a slightly tart flavour, or a dessert apple for a sweeter one.

Apple Carrot Cake with Honey & Lemon Ricotta Frosting
Apple Carrot Cake
300g peeled carrot
150g peeled and cored apple (cooking or dessert, your choice)
150g butter
175g light soft brown sugar
50g sultanas
50g chopped walnuts
180g gluten free plain flour
3 eggs
3 tsp gf baking powder
1½ tsp ground ginger
1½ tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Honey & Lemon Ricotta Frosting
250g ricotta cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp honey (or more to taste)

Apple Carrot Cake
Preheat the oven to 150C and line an 8inch spring form tin with greaseproof paper.
Grate the apple and carrot using a coarse grater and set aside.
Add the sugar to a large bowl. Melt the butter and pour it over the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each one.
Sift over the flour, baking powder and spices. Beat lightly until most of the flour has been incorporated. A few streaks are fine.
Add the grated apple and carrot and fold in using a spatula. Then fold in the sultanas and chopped walnuts.
Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 1 hour. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean and it should be slightly firm to the touch.
Allow to cool almost completely before removing from the tin and leaving to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the frosting

Honey & Lemon Ricotta Frosting
Place the ricotta into a bowl and beat lightly until quite smooth. Add the honey and grated lemon zest and fold together well. Taste and add more honey if you want it sweeter, 1 tbsp makes it only faintly sweet.
Chill until required, before spreading over the top of the cake. Finish with a final scattering of fresh lemon zest.
Store the finished cake in the fridge and eat within 3 days.

Note: I found the cake was even better after a night in the fridge, when it was easier to cut and the frosting had firmed up.


Elle said...

It sounds like a delightful carrot cake and the ricotta topping such a nice substitute. When I first read that lime was a flavor in the topping it sounded like an odd combination with the carrot and apple, and even more so when you added the nuts, raisins and spice, but lemon and honey just sounds right. Now I want a piece...guess I'll have to make some.

Gluten Free Alchemist said...

This looks absolutely delicious. Really moist. And I love the idea of the added apples. I have been looking for a good carrot cake recipe for ages. I will definitely be trying this one!

The Caked Crusader said...

Lovely looking cake. And no, you're not the only one. I currently have 15 folders of things torn from magazines!

Hello said...

Your cake looks lovely, I also love carrot cake and I think the honey and lemon ricotta frosting would make it taste super delicious. I also have many recipes on my "to bake" list, and this recipe will be another addition x

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Sophie said...

Hallo und guten Tag,
ich habe mich köstlich amüsiert beim lesen und mich genau wieder erkannt.
Auch ich speichere im PC Rezepte ab, und bestimmt für die nächsten 300 Jahre.
Und fast 70 Koch-und Backbücher. Sowie 1001 Zettel und Bilder :-)
Ich freue mich, dass ich nicht die einzige "Verrückte" bin :-)
Aber ich liebe es zu kochen, es ist für mich wie Meditation.
Und noch mehr freue ich mich, dass ich auf deinem Blog geraten bin, und nun auch auf ganz viele andere liebe Menschen getroffen bin, denen es auch so geht.
Du hast einen neuen Fan :-)
Herzliche Grüße von Sophie

Johanna GGG said...

I will never ever get through all the blog recipes I have bookmarked but it is nice to have them organised on delicious bookmarks so I can search them when I want something. This looks like an interesting cake to have got around to trying - these sort of cakes can be quite crumbly but I agree that carrot cakes are great