Savory Spiced Carrot Cake
This carrot cake is not a dessert, though at first glance it looks like one. Whimsical and festive, it could even be a birthday cake for someone lacking a sweet tooth. Serve it as a first course, or pair it with a salad for a light meal.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 1cup/125 grams all-purpose flour
- ¾cup/90 grams white cornmeal
- 1teaspoon kosher salt
- 1tablespoon white sesame seeds
- 1teaspoon turmeric
- Small pinch of cayenne
- 1teaspoon baking powder
- 1teaspoon baking soda
- 1cup/250 milliliters buttermilk
- 2eggs, beaten
- 2ounces/60 grams feta cheese, crumbled
- 1cup/100 grams grated carrots
- ½cup/115 grams sliced scallions, both white and green parts, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
- 4tablespoons/60 grams unsalted butter, plus butter for greasing pan
- 1teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1cup/240 grams crème fraîche
- Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
- 1teaspoon black sesame or nigella seeds, for garnish (optional)
- Pinch of crushed red pepper, for garnish
Step 1Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425 degrees.
Step 2In a mixing bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, salt, white sesame seeds, turmeric, cayenne, baking powder and baking soda.
Step 3In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, feta, carrots and scallions. Lightly butter a 9-inch cake pan.
Step 4Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and beat well to make a thick batter.
Step 5Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. When butter is hot, add cumin seeds and mustard seeds and cook until fragrant (seeds will begin to pop a bit). Adjust heat so butter does not burn; it’s O.K. if butter browns a little.
Step 6Whisk hot butter mixture into batter and beat well to combine. Scrape batter into prepared cake pan and smooth top with a spatula.
Step 7Bake on the middle rack for 25 to 30 minutes or until a skewer or paring knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack, then invert onto a plate. (Cake may be baked several hours or up to a day in advance.)
Step 8To finish cake, beat crème fraîche with a fork to loosen, then spread with a metal spatula or knife to coat top and sides. Decorate with cilantro sprigs and reserved scallions. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds, if desired, and crushed red pepper. Cut into wedges and serve.