How to make carrot cake without nuts or cinnamon? Currants and cardamom!
A couple of years ago, my nieces (aged 8 and 11 at the time) asked me to make a carrot cake—with no walnuts or cinnamon—for a birthday party. One of their friends was allergic to both ingredients, but they really wanted a carrot cake for this occasion.
So I got to work and decided to turn to one of my favorite spices, cardamom, to give this carrot cake some spunk. The exotic spice ended up pairing magnificently with the carrots! As for the walnuts, I replaced them with juicy, plump currants that contribute a bit of sweetness to the cake.
For a moist and flavorful cake, olive oil is the magic ingredient
But that’s not all! Instead of choosing a bland vegetable oil, I decided to use olive oil. The results were splendid! The olive oil not only makes the cake incredibly moist, but it adds a wonderful delicate flavor to it. As a last touch, the cake is decorated with a featherweight Chantilly spiked with fresh ginger juice and homemade crème fraîche. Need I say more?!
This carrot cake met the approval of all the children at the birthday party that day… I even heard that not a crumb was left.
Carrot cake with cardamom, currants & ginger-crème fraîche Chantilly
makes 1 large cake or serves 6 to 8
active time: 30 min
For the cake
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 4 extra large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (use a microplane grater)
- 1 lb (455 g) carrots – peeled and finely grated (4 cups)
- 2/3 cup currants (soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes and drained)
For the Chantilly
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger juice (finely grate fresh ginger root with a microplane grater and squeeze flesh between fingers to release the juice)
- 1/4 cup organic sugar
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- 1/4 cup pistachios – coarsely chopped, as garnish
- 1 – 9″ non-stick round cake pan or springform pan – buttered and floured
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180ºC).
- Step 1: In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom and nutmeg. Stir well and set aside.
- Step 2: Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at high speed until the mixture is pale and ribbony, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and slowly beat in the orange juice, oil and zest until smooth. Add the flour mixture and fold until almost incorporated. Add the carrots and currants and continue folding until just incorporated. Do not overmix, or the cake will be stiff. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Unmold and place on a cooling rack. Let cool to room temperature.
- Step 3: To make the Chantilly, place the heavy cream, ginger juice and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the crème fraîche and continue to beat until just incorporated. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to serve the cake.
- Step 4: Place the cake onto a large serving platter. Spread the Chantilly on top of the cake with a silicone or pastry spatula. Sprinkle with the pistachios and serve.
We just made this cake again last week–so good! It helps to get us over this dreary winter………
Thank you so much, Kay! Spring is on its way!
Oh my goodness Viviane…this cake looks absolutely scrumptious! And I absolutely LOVE the teaspoon of cardamom, one of my favorite spices. Crème fraîche in place of cream cheese sounds SO much better!
Thank you, Mj!
Another complex, subtle, and tasty recipe from Vivianne that was much loved by all who tasted it. Ginger grated on my little ginger grater resulted in a puree that was fine to use in the chantilly. I had to watch out for the long fibrous strings. Variations I have tried: parsnips-not as distinctive enough a flavor to stand up to the other flavors; golden raisins: delicious!
My audience was impressed by the lightness of this carrot cake compared with other recipes. Thank you for the addition to my dessert repertoire.
Hi Kay! I am delighted you enjoyed this carrot cake and loved all the different flavors. You’ve put me in the mood to make one soon! On a side note, you might want to invest in a microplane grater. It’ll make the job of grating ginger (or any other fibrous roots) a cinch. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I was so happy to read it… And happy baking!
Viviane dear, I made the cake last night and will serve it at a dinner for eight tonight. The was ready (maybe slightly too dark at the edges) but it smells wonderful. I had one problem: the ginger juice. Questions:
1. how much ginger will produce 2.5 teaspoons of ginger juice? I used a whole knob of ginger (is “knob” the right word?) and couldn’t get more than about 1.5 teaspoons of liquid.
Also, I had stored the ginger juice in the fridge overnight in order to make the Chantilly this morning (01/20/15.) At the bottom of the container was a hardened substance, residue from squeezed ginger? I’ll let you know tomorrow how it all turned out but I like the recipe so much that I want to perfect it and make it a staple.
Hi Carmen! I’m so sorry the fresh ginger gave you such trouble. In order to get a lot of juice out of it, you need to grate it very finely. A microplane grater does the job marvelously. A regular grater won’t grate it fine enough and you won’t get as much juice out of the roots. To get the amount needed for this recipe, you need a 1 1/2″ to 2″ piece of fresh ginger root. And it looks like so little ginger juice completely evaporated overnight (I’ve never tried to juice it and refrigerate it, but it sounds like that was the problem). If you don’t have a microplane grater, you can cut a 2″ piece of fresh ginger in 1/4″ cubes and use a mini food processor to chop it very, very finely. This technique should work well too. LMK know! I hope everyone loved the cake last night!
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The cake looks fantastic, Viviane. Moist and with lots of flavours!
Thank you, Angie!
I made this, and it was by far the BEST carrot cake that I and friends, family, have ever enjoyed.
Viviane. You are truly amazing!
Thank you and best regards….
Nira! Thank you so, so much for your comment. You simply made my day! I’m delighted you and your family enjoyed the carrot cake. You’ve put me in the mood to make one this weekend! Warmest wishes to you, my dear…
With such a charming array of spices I doubt the cinnamon or walnuts will be missed! A wondrous version of the nostalgic-Carrot Cake!
Thank you Deb!
Such a gorgeous cake, and I love all the ingredients, including the pistachios on top. So sweet your nieces and nephews wanted a special cake for their friend 🙂
This is my dream cake! Love all the flavors here, Viviane 🙂