Carrot Cake with Pistachio & Poppy Seeds Cream Cheese Buttercream

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Celebrations of Love

Mariana turned 15! I can’t even tell you all the emotions flying over here! We have been having a great couple of days, full of joy and love.

As you know, my daughter’s favorite cake is carrot. Since we made this discovery I’ve been playing with different ways to make this cake, but always mashing the carrots into the batter so she can have the nutritional properties of the carrots. This has been a great change since you know she can’t chew small pieces of carrots, as you will find in traditional carrot cakes.

This is a short one guys. It has been a hectic week of having fun, that's why there's no ingredients or procedure shots as I usually do. I literally had two hour to shoot it, and couldn't take a piece out because this was literally the cake of the big party. But Easter is in front of us and I wanted you to have the recipe, because this cake is absolutely delicious.

I promise it is really easy to make, mainly because the food processor is going to do the hard work. I like it spiced so I add a good amount of cinnamon and ginger but this time I added a pinch of ground cloves for an extra kick. And let me tell you, the addition of poppy seeds on the frosting is so on point. They add a nice crunch but also an interesting texture visually, making it very pretty!

I’m pretty sure you will have these ingredients on hand because they are all mostly pantry ingredients. If not, all of them are easy to find.

We’ll talk a bit more on the next post. In the meantime, enjoy this cake and have a great Easter, full of peace, love and beautiful things!

PD – I wrote this recipe kind of fast. Please don’t hesitate to shot me a message if you have any questions. I don't want you having a hard time!

Recipe notes:

1.     For making a layered cake, cut the top of the cakes with a serrated knife to make them even and more stable.

2.     If you have the time, soak the cake with the simple syrup and let them rest overnight in the fridge. This way it’s going to be easier to frost them without them crumbling.

3.     It’s better if the butter for the frosting is at room temperature but still a bit cold and hard. This way it's going to retain a good texture during the beating process.

4.     The coconut milk is just to fine tune the texture of the frosting. If the frosting becomes dry while you are decorating (it happens!) just add a bit of milk to the remaining frosting on the mixer and beat for just a minute to incorporate everything.

5.     I used just 2 6” cakes and cut them in half lengthwise to end up with 4 layers. I did the same with the third one for a 2 layer cake.

6.     The ideal order to prepare a cake (for the best handling and also for the best texture and flavor) will be to bake the cake, cut the tops and soak them with the simple syrup, chill them in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, cut the cakes in half after chilled, make the frosting and frost them, chill in the fridge once more for a couple of hours and them letting it go down to room temperature before serving. Of course you manage the process at you convenience.

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Carrot Cake with Pistachio & Poppy Seeds Cream Cheese Buttercream

Carrot Cake

Baby carrots, steamed – 1 cup
Unbleached all purpose wheat flour - 2 ½ cup
Baking powder – 2 Tsp
Ground cinnamon – 1 ¼ Tsp
Ground ginger – 1 Tsp
Cardamon - a pinch (optional)
Fine sea salt - 1 Tsp + a pinch for cooking the carrots
Vanilla extract – 2 Tsp
Natural or raw sugar – 1 ½ cup
Dark brown sugar, pressed - ½ cup
Large eggs at room temperature – 3
Vegetable oil – 6 oz
Cooking water from the carrots – 3 TBSP
Butter and/or cooking spray for pans

Simple Syrup

Sugar – ½ cup
Water – ¼ cup
Fine sea salt - pinch


Confectioners sugar – 6 cups
Unsalted butter, room temperature (see notes) – 2 sticks, 1 cup
Cornstarch – 1 TBSP
Fine sea salt – ¼ Tsp
Pistachio extract – 1 Tsp
Coconut milk – 1/2 cup
Cream cheese at room temperature (regular or 1/3 less fat) – 4 oz
Poppy seeds – 4 Tsp

To make the cake:  Total time – 50 minutes (including cooking time of the carrots)  Active time – 20 minutes
Equipment – 3 6”cake pan or 2 9”cake pan, medium or large food processor

Preheat oven to 350°.

Steam the carrots with a pinch of salt until tender. Let them cool down a bit before transferring to the food processor bowl.

In the meantime, place the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves in the bowl of the food processor that’s already attached to its base. Pulse a few times to incorporate everything and transfer to a medium bowl.

Put the steamed carrots in the food processor and add 3 tablespoons of the cooking water. Pulse until the carrots are pureed. Add the salt, vanilla, sugars and eggs and pulse once more until combined. With the food processor running pour slowly the vegetable oil.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.  Add about 1/3 of the carrot mixture and gently mix with a wooden spoon. Repeat two more times, until all the liquid has been integrated. Try to break big lumps of flour. Do not over mix.

Transfer the batter to the pans, equally divided. Place in oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cakes are golden orange and a toothpick comes out clean after you pinch them.

Let them cool before leveling with a serrated knife (see notes) and soaking with the simple syrup (recipe follows). If desired, you can cut the cakes in half lengthwise to have more layers. Is best to do this with a chilled cake.

Frost them (see notes), let them set and serve!

To make the syrup: Combine all the ingredients in a small casserole. Simmer until it starts making bubbles. Retire form heat. Using a pastry brush, brush the surface and sides of the cake.  Let them soak for 10 minutes or overnight before frosting.

To make the frosting: Total time - 20 minutes  Equipment - Stand up mixer with the paddle attachment or electric hand mixer

Dilute the cornstarch with a bit of the coconut milk. In a small saucepan simmer the coconut milk. Retire from heat and add the coconut milk and cornstarch mixture while whisking with a hand whisk. Return to heat and stir with a wooden spoon for a minute, probably less, until the mixture thickens forming paste, basically a pudding texture. If the mixture look more like a thick sauce or gravy let it cook a few seconds more or dilute an extra teaspoon of cornstarch with some coconut milk, incorporate it to the saucepan and stir until it thickens. Remove from heat and let it cool completely.

In the meantime sift the sugar in two medium to large bowls.

Place the butter in the bowl of a standup mixer with the paddle attachment and beat in medium speed for about 2 to 3 minutes, until creamy and pale.  Add the cream cheese and mix until incorporated. Add the salt and pistachio extract. Slow down the mixer and start incorporating the sugar in intervals, using a 1/3 or ½ measuring cup. Wait until some of the sugar is incorporated to add more. The mixture is going to become crumbly but that’s fine. If at some point the mixture gets too hard, add 1 (or even two) tablespoon of the milk. After incorporating all the sugar beat for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the cornstarch mixture and mix for about 3 more minutes, adding the poppy seeds in the last minute of beating. Depending on the actual texture and the texture you desire, add a bit more of the milk and mix a bit more. Fill a frosting bag and open a medium hole at the end. Twist it on top and pressure to let the frosting out. Frost the top of one of the cakes and using a spatula press the frosting down and spread it evenly if necessary. Place another cake on and repeat the process with all the layers that you have created. Frost the top and the sides as well and spread it with a spatula. Decorate the top before serving.

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