Most carrot cakes that I have made over the years have a considerable amount of vegetable oil in the batter. The carrots are grated coarsely and join sweetened coconut, crushed pineapple, and walnuts to make a thick batter that has a heavy moist crumb. This version of carrot cake is a bit different, though.
To begin with, it's a smaller cake that is baked in a loaf pan so that slices can be served as opposed to wedges. It has less vegetable oil and more carrots. There is candied ginger bits and pecans instead of coconut, pineapple and walnuts. The sugar that is set aside for the cream cheese frosting has three substantial scented geranium leaves torn and tossed in. The sugar and leaf mixture is covered and left to absorb the scent of the geranium, in this case, an orange-scented geranium.
It was served in slices with a dollop of ice cream on the side at a family picnic this past weekend ... totally tasty.
This was a spicy batter, full of cinnamon, cloves, and those chewy candied ginger bits. I buy high quality candied ginger at Granite State Candies in Concord, New Hampshire. It is thickly sliced and perfectly coated with coarse sugar crystals. I cut the ginger into quarter inch cubes for this cake.
The ginger makes for a sticky outer crust. I used parchment paper to line the loaf pan so that I could easily get the cake from the pan after it had its ten minute cool off. As you can see the loaf is not as slick with oil as other carrot cakes.
I couldn't resist decorating the top of the cake with a couple more geranium leaves and one of the pretty little purple pansies from my garden. The frosting was delicious with a hint of the geranium scent, lemon zest, and far less fat than conventional cream cheese frosting!
I loved this recipe and will be making it again - probably the next time I need to bake for a church event. It's a perfect tea cake.
Carrot Cake with Geranium-Scented Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 1- 5 x 9 inch loaf
1 c. self-rising flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cloves
1 c. light brown sugar
1 ½ c. coarsely grated carrot
½ c. golden sultanas
½ c. finely chopped candied ginger root
½ c. chopped pecans
⅔ c. canola oil ( scant )
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 c. confectioner’s sugar
3-4 large lemon or orange scented geranium leaves, torn into small pieces
A generous ¼ c. cream cheese ( Neufchatel works well here)
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. lemon zest
A squeeze of lemon juice
Making the Cake:
- Measure the frosting sugar into a small bowl. Add the torn geranium leaves and toss with a fork. Cover the bowl and set it aside for several hours in a warm place.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 5 x 9 inch oaf pan, line it with parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment paper. Set aside.
- Sift together the self-rising flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda. Add the brown sugar and toss with a fork to break up the brown sugar.
- Add the sultanas, carrots, pecans, and candied ginger and stir well.
- Add the canola oil and eggs. Using an electric mixer, beat the batter for five minutes – twice as long, if you are mixing by hand.
- Turn the batter into the prepared pan and bake for just about one hour … or until a cake tester comes clean when you poke the center of the cake.
- Let the baked cake cool in the pan for ten minutes and then turn it out onto a cooling rack and gently peel back the parchment paper.
- When the cake is completely cool, place it upright on a pretty platter and frost the top with geranium-scented cream cheese frosting.
- Decorate with fresh geranium leaves and an edible flower - nasturtium, pansy, rose bud, violets. Just make sure they are clean and organic.
Making the Frosting:
- Sift the sugar to make a fine powder, removing the leaves, as you go.
- Add the cream cheese, butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat to a smooth consistency.
- Chill to thicken up the frosting a bit before spreading atop the carrot cake.