Friday, March 29, 2024


When it comes to spring classics, Carrot cake is the first choice of many. Paired with a wonderfully bright and tangy combination of dried apricots and mandarin oranges, together with a wonderfully smooth white chocolate mousse filling, it is simply perfect for gatherings of all types.
One of my favourite ingredients for delightfully moist cakes is applesauce. Simple and straightforward, yet amazing in pretty much all layer cakes. However, just like the apples are puréed, other fruits and even vegetables can be. It is quite easy to make a carrot purée; simply boil or steam the carrots, let them cool down slightly, and add them to a blender.
The result is a lovely little cake, soft and moist, even slightly sticky, full of aromatic fruit, as well as that signature carrot cake undertones. If desired, you can add some roughly chopped walnuts to the cake batter, for an additional layer of texture.

For the carrot cake layers
150 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoons salt
180 grams granulated sugar
60 millilitres vegetable oil
250 grams carrots, peeled and chopped
30 grams dandelion or apple honey
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
75 millilitres boiling water
For the dried apricot and mandarin orange filling
100 grams dried apricots
300 grams mandarin oranges
50 grams granulated sugar
4 teaspoons cornflour
1 tablespoon cold water
For the white chocolate mousse filling
200 grams vegan white chocolate
200 grams plant-based double cream
120 grams vegan block butter, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
small pinch of flaky salt

Start by making the fillings. Soak the dried apricots in boiling water for about 10-15 minutes, or until they become soft. This will make the blending much easier.
Melt together the white chocolate, plant double cream, and vegan block butter, either over low heat or in the microwave. Gently stir until blended, remove from the heat, and add in vanilla and a bit of salt, mix well, and cover with a piece of plastic wrap or baking parchment. Let it cool down to room temperature, and then place it into the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.
Drain the apricots well, and add them to a blender, along with the mandarin orange segments. Blend on high until a smooth purée forms, and tip it into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add in the sugar, place it over medium heat, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until thickened. While the mixture is simmering, whisk together the cold water and the cornflour and set it aside.
After boiling for 10 minutes, the orange and apricot puree should be thickened, so add the cornflour and water, and cook for 2-3 minutes more, stirring constantly, until a thick and glossy custard forms. Remove it from the heat, cover the top with plastic wrap or a piece of baking parchment, and let it cool down to room temperature.
To make the cake layers, start by boiling or steaming the carrots until fork tender, about 15-20 minutes. Set them aside to cool down, turn the oven to preheat to 180°C and line a rectangular cake pan (20x30 cm) with baking parchment, bottom and sides.
Strain the cooked carrots well and weigh 200 grams. Place them into a blender along with the dandelion honey, vanilla, oil, and water, and let it run until a completely smooth purée forms. Sift the flour with the baking powder into a large bowl, add in the flour, and whisk very well. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add in the carrot purée, and whisk until just combined, to make sure the cake is soft and tender. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake immediately, in a nicely preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 15-18 minutes. Check the cake for doneness after about 15 minutes in the oven, to make sure it does not dry out. Take it out of the oven, let it cool down in the pan for about 10 minutes, and then invert it onto a wire rack to cool down completely.
Once both fillings are ready and the cake is cool to the touch, proceed to assemble the cake.
Take the white chocolate filling out of the refrigerator and whip it with an electric mixer on the highest setting until very stiff peaks form. This may take a bit of time, so do have patience for it. Stir the cooked apricot and mandarin jam with a spoon or a spatula until it becomes smooth and easily spreadable, and transfer it to a piping bag with the tip snipped off. Level the cake, if needed, and slice it in half crosswise and lengthwise, to create four thin square layers. They will not be perfectly square, but that is fine.
Place the first cake layer onto the serving platter. Close a small cake form around it, and add a tall sheet of acetate. Add a heaping tablespoon of the white chocolate filling on top, spread it nicely, and pipe one-third of the jam. Add another heaping tablespoon of the mousse, covering the jam completely, and top it with another cake layer. Continue stacking in this fashion two more times, and then top with the final cake layer. Cover it with a piece of baking parchment to prevent drying out, and place the cake into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, along with the remaining white chocolate mousse.
Once the cake is firm and ready, remove it from the refrigerator, take off the cake form, and decorate with the remaining mousse. Keep it refrigerated until serving time, as it tastes the best when it's nicely chilled. Yields 12 servings.