01 May 2010

Upside down pineapple carrot cake. Who needs frosting?

This simply is a great cake. Or muffin. My mom has a friend called Debbie and she's from Texas, but has been living in Germany for a long time. She once made the cake when I was a teenager and I was blown away. It was cinnamony, had complex flavors and the concept of carrots in a cake was absolutely new to me, She was kind enough to give me the recipe and I have baked it since on uncounted occasions. It's great every time: fluffy on the inside, somewhat spicy, nuts and caramelized top for the crunch, pineapples for juiciness. I've never made a frosting for this cake (it would be a shame to cover up those beautiful pineapples) and personally, I don't think it needs one.

But if you really insist on putting something on this cake, some vanilla ice cream goes tremendously well with it. Especially if the cake is still warm.

12 muffins or 1 cake (26 cm / 10 inch diameter)

2 cups / 1/2 liter carrots, finely grated (4-6 carrots)
butter for the pie pan
brown sugar for the pie pan
1 can sliced or diced pineapples, drained well
1 1/2 cups / 180 g flour
1 1/2 cups / 300 g sugar
1/2 cup / 60 g chopped nuts, eg pecans or almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup /180 ml vegetable oil
3 eggs
(vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for serving, optional)

First of all, preheat your oven to 190°C / 375°.Then start peeling and grating the carrots until you have enough. You could do this by hand, but I recommend some kind of machinery (I use my Kitchen Aid). Carrots are kinda hard and will cost you a lot of time and elbow grease to get them all down to bits. Not to mention fingernails.

Time to prep the cake pans. I like the silicon pans from Téfal (called T-Fal in the US, I believe), because they have a metal support ring so they're not wobbly. Smear the insides thickly and thoroughly with butter, then fill about a tablespoon coarse brown sugar in each mold and tap and shake and turn until all buttery sides are coated with sugar (do this over the sink). Then put in a piece of well-drained pineapple.

Yeah, I know. They say you don't have to butter silicon pans for baking pans. I don't believe it. I've had a couple of cakes destroyed because the pan didn't release it. And besides, you do like a crunchy caramel crust on your cake, don't you?

This time, I made the double amount of cake, so I also prepped a regular cake pan.

Time to get out a big bowl. Measure in the flour and the sugar. By the way, if you don't like sifting your flour, just stir it a couple of times with your wire whisk until you see no more lumps.

Now add the baking powder and soda, the nuts (in this case slivered almonds), salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, then mix it all together.

In another bowl, mix together the oil and the eggs.

Don't be surprised about the 7 yolks - I made the double amount of dough and I added and extra egg because the eggs were so small.

Pour the egg-mixture gingerly on top of the flour-mixture. Kinda looks like a giant egg, doesn't it?

Now stir it all together until you see a dough forming. Don't overmix and don't worry about some flour lumps left - 10 to 15 strokes should be enough. I guess it's better to have some lumps in your cake than a tough cake - or muffins with big, tunnel-like holes.

Add the grated carrots and carefully mix them in, then equally distribute the dough on the muffin tins or in the cake pan. I recently found out that a disher (some call it ice cream scoop) is the perfect tool for that.

Feels good when a job is done!

Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes and the cake 40 minutes.

Get them out of the oven, let everything cool for at least 15 minutes (so that the caramel crust sets a bit), then turn the cake/muffin pan upside down and carefully pop them out.

Don't they look great? Shiny, golden brown, juicy, crunchy, soft. Would be a shame to cover it all with frosting... Serve them as they are (great for breakfast) or with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


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