I spent last year in Paris and ever since I’ve been looking for that city at home. I know that people say Paris and New York are nothing alike. You might say that my pet project is a futile one, or that the two cities should never be made to sit side by side.
Maybe you would be right.
But I’m not ready to give up just yet… because there’s this carrot cake. It’s completely un-Parisian, but it’s irretrievably reminiscent of a walk along rue des Martyrs and into Rose Bakery where a treasure trove of healthful heaps of greens paired with devilishly decadent desserts can be eaten in happy harmony. Rose Bakery in Paris makes some of the best carrot cake I’ve ever had, and so when I revisited Rose’s recipe in my own home, in New York, I found I had baked a little bit of what I think of when I think of Paris. I know, carrot cake. Of all things.
The things we come to love in foreign cities are often the things that have made up some part of our past—or they consist of things that fulfill our expectations of that place. Whenever friends ask me for suggestions for places to eat or sit with a little coffee in Paris, I can hear them dreaming loudly of a lowlit bistro that is made audible guided almost entirely by the ambient light imagined within their own mind’s patient ability to decipher in the dark…
The carrot cake re-inspired in my own kitchen is one of these things: it’s rich (in the way that we expect all French things to be) and moistly packed with juicy shaved carrots and toasted earthy walnuts. But then it’s smothered with a frosting that feels so smoothly sophisticated but is simultaneously made from the least pretentious ingredients of your childhood: the Italian friend of cream cheese (mascarpone) and maple syrup. Rose’s original recipe doesn’t call for the maple or the mascarpone, but I love a touch of both!
I’ve added some nutmeg and dialed up the cinnamon, then I’ve reduced the measurements here and there to fit a standard loaf pan — mostly because it’s the perfect size to leave you groveling for more!
Adapted from Rose Carrarini’s Breakfast, Lunch, Tea.
For the cake:
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup caster (superfine) sugar*
- 1 cup sunflower oil (I used vegetable oil)
- 6 medium carrots, finely grated
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a loaf pan and line base with parchment paper.
In a large bowl beat together eggs and sugar until they are light and fluffy but not too stiff. Slowly add the oil, pouring in a stream, beating continuously for a few more minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour with the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Fold in the carrots and then the flour mixture. Fold in the walnuts.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out dry.
Remove from the oven and cool the cake in the pan about 10 minutes before removing it from its pan and transferring to the rack to cool completely. After cake has cooled, prepare frosting as directed below.
*If using standard granulated sugar as I did, pour a scant 3/4 cup of sugar into a food processor and pulse a bit achieve a fine texture.
For the frosting:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
- 3/4 cup mascarpone
- 1/2 cup Confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
In a medium bowl, beat all ingredients together until smooth. Smooth onto cake after it has completely cooled.