Many food historians believe carrot cake originated from such carrot puddings eaten by Europeans in the Middle Ages, when sugar was expensive and carrots were used as a substitute for sugar. Antoine Beauvilliers, former chef to Louis XVI, included a recipe for a "Gâteau de Carottes" in L'art du cuisinier cookbook in 1814. Carrot cake recipes have evolved since. In the batter, walnuts or pecans are often added as well as spices (ginger/cinnamon). Fruit including pineapple, and raisins can also be used. The cake is then topped with a sweet cream cheese frosting.
For a 13''x18''/33x45cm baking tray lined with a greased parchment paper or silicone mat.
In the food processor, turn walnuts into meal. Add four, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix to combine; set aside. Peel, wash and shred carrots. Break them down further using the blade of the food processor. Grate shredded carrots along with the ginger (just grate, do not not puree). In a large saucepan, cook down carrot and orange juice for about 15 minutes, or until moisture is gone. (Pre-cooked carrots instead of raw produces a really moist cake that is better the day after it is made). Add pineapple*. Meanwhile, in the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat eggs and sugars on high speed for 10 minutes, or until pale and fluffy. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. With a rubber spatula, add oil slowly – followed by the dry ingredients, and carrot mixture. Spread batter evenly onto the prepared baking tray.
*For better redistribution, pineapple can be added once the carrot sponge batter is spread. Also, pineapple can be flambéed with dark rum prior to add to the mixture. To do so, in a hot pan sear pineapple dices along with a tablespoon of brown sugar on high heat. Flambé with 2 tablespoons (30g) black spiced rum.
Preheat oven to 375ºF/180ºC. Bake carrot sponge for about 15 minutes. Let cool and freeze. Remove from sheet tray and cut into 4 rectangles. Keep refrigerated.
Combine sugar and agar agar. Reduce orange and carrot juice by half (100g). Add sugar-agar mixture. Mix well and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to a small container lined with plastic wrap. chill and cut into small cubes. Jelly can be kept frozen for later use.
This Italian meringue based cream cheese filling offers a luxurious, light and less sweet frosting. For the Italian meringue, beat egg whites with cream of tartar on medium speed – keep egg whites to foamy stage. By the time it runs, egg whites comes to room temperature meanwhile incorporating air. Cook sugar, water and honey to 245ºF/118ºC. Pour in thin stream into the running mixer. Increase mixer speed to high, and beat until it cools down. When meringue reaches 77ºF/25ºC, add vanilla and butter. Beat until homogenized. Add cream cheese*, and continue beating until fluffy and light. If butter cream comes out too soft, freeze for 10 minutes or so, and beat again. If it ends up too firm, gently warm up mixing bowl with a kitchen blowtorch.
*For best results, room temperature cream cheese can be beaten separately, and then added to the buttercream.
Chablon is when you coat the bottom sponge cake or biscuit with melted chocolate. Just like the Opera cake for instance. It strengthen its base. Chop chocolate into small piece and microwave 20 seconds. Stir up and repeat until just melted. Do not over heat. Mix in oil. Spread evenly and into thin layer some of the melted chocolate over the first sponge cake. Refrigerate to set. Flip and build the cake.
Spread frosting on cooled sponge, repeat until done. Finish cake in a fashion way using a medium size open star pipping tip. Freeze carrot cake for a couple of hours or until firm enough to trim off edges and cut. Decorate with orange-carrot jelly cubes. Top with real mini carrots if desired. To prepare them: peel and wash. Cook mini carrots in some orange juice and a couple of tablespoons sugar for about 20 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and chill. Reduce remaining juice and serve with the cake. Cake tastes best a day after. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days or freeze well wrapped for a couple of months. Enjoy!