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Orange almond carrot cake with creme fraiche frosting

Recipe for Orange almond carrot cake with creme fraiche frosting - sliced cake on plate with flowers

Soft single-layer carrot cake with a creamy creme fraiche frosting that can be made ahead!

Ingredients

Scale

Cake

  • 2 large eggs, separated to yolks and whites
  • 1 stick + 2 1/2 tablespoons (150g) unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1/2 cup (100g) white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) light brown sugar (or Demerara)
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) fresh orange juice (from one large orange)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest (from one large orange)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
  • 11oz (320g) carrots, ends trimmed, finely grated (about 2 cups grated)
  • 1 3/4 cups (8 oz | 225g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (110g) almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

FROSTING

  • heaping 1/2 cup (150g) creme fraiche 
  • 6 tablespoons (90g) mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup (40g) powdered sugar, more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
  • decorations: candied orange peel, slivered almonds, sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C), grease a 9-inch (22-cm) cake pan and line bottom with baking paper (grease that too). 
  2. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks in a medium bowl, set aside. In another bowl, combine butter and sugars and beat on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, then orange juice, zest, salt, vanilla and orange blossom water. Whisk until incorporated. Next whisk in carrots, then flour, almond meal, baking powder and soda. The batter will be thick, but wet. Lastly, fold in the egg whites, in two additions. Because the batter is thick, this will be a bit hard to do, but just slowly work them in. 
  3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and pat it down so it’s even all over. Bake cake in the center of the oven for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean (crumbs are okay, raw batter isn’t). 
  4. Remove cake from oven and let it cool for about 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the sides of the pan, then remove cake from pan. Let it cool completely before adding the frosting. To store overnight, wrap the cake with plastic wrap (or an alternative) and keep it at room temperature. 
  5. To make the frosting, put all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until combined and smooth. Taste and add more sugar if needed. Using a spoon or spatula, spread frosting all over the cake. Add decorations, if desired, and serve. You can also keep a frosted cake in the refrigerator for a few hours or even overnight. The cold temperature sets the mascarpone really nicely and makes the cake easier to slice. 

Notes

I purposely made this a single layer cake. If you double the recipe, you can make a single sheet cake (9×13) or a two-layer cake (2 x 9-inch pans) or a smaller three-layer cake (3 x 7-inch pans). Adjust the baking time accordingly. I used a springform pan, but any cake pan with high-enough sides is great. 

Orange blossom water or orange flower water is a citrusy floral water (think rose water but with an orange scent). It gives the cake a special, light and pleasant aroma. The use of this is completely optional, but it does produce a unique cake that people remember. Look for it in your local stores or on Amazon.