September 4, 2012
Pretty Purple Carrot Cake
Happy Spring Everybody!
The sun already feels warmer, birds are singing, blossoms are blooming and tendrils of scented air waft enticingly up sinuses rapidly stuffing them with seasonally induced hayfever
Have you ever noticed how so much of taste is linked to smell?
Apparently only about 20% of your taste experience comes from the tongue, and the other 80% comes from the scent.
This was discovered by Linda Buck and Richard Axel, the winners of the Novel Prize in Medicine 2004, for their “discoveries of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system”.
They put forward a hypothesis based on the fact that if the aroma of foods is so important for the way we perceive them, then if the major volatile molecules of two foods are the same, they might taste (and smell) nice when eaten together.
This idea has been enthusiastically embraced by many of the gastronomic magicians of our time, including Heston Blumenthal, who love to perplex and amaze our tastebuds while screwing with our minds!
I love to put together fun and interesting flavour combinations, and even have this great resource book The Flavour Thesaurus- Pairings, recipes and ideas for the creative cook, by Niki Segit, to help me come up with some awesome ideas and combinations indeed.
Some odd sounding pairings from the book include: Olive and white chocolate, Goat cheese and coffee, Oyster and nutmeg and Caviar and banana. These are ones I haven't tried yet, but they do sound bizarre, don't they?
Anyway one of the taste combinations that I found intriguing was Carrot and Violet (apparently Ionone is the main pairing molecule here), and I figured it would be in keeping with my recent floral theme, and a fitting celebration of the first week of Spring here in the Southern Hemisphere.
Now of course, if you are going to play around tricking two senses, you really might as well add a third, so I decided to use Purple carrots as they are both carrots and a violent violet hue. Taste, Smell and Sight- cool, huh?
Now please don't worry if you don't have either purple carrots or violet flavouring. This recipe is just as nice with orange ones and some vanilla extract or perhaps some lemon zest instead. I don't want you to miss out just because you aren't as weirdly wired as I am.
I have a lovely lot of violets, violas and pansies blooming at the moment, and have them scattered around the house in float bowls to bring a bit of the garden in. The cat however, thinks I have left out lovely little puddles for her quaffing pleasure. How nice to have floral flavoured punch on tap!
Pretty Purple Carrot Cake
1 1/2 cups Castor Sugar
2 cups grated Carrots
1 cup Almond Meal
1 cup Pistachio Meal (or you could just use more almond meal)
1/2 cup gluten free Flour
2 Tb Violet Syrup (or 2 tsp vanilla extract, or 1 lemon zest)
1 tsp gf Baking Powder
pinch of Salt
Peel your carrots, I needed 3 nice big ones for the 2 cups
Aren't these pretty? The colour is nice and solid the whole way through. Last year I grew purple climbing beans, but as soon as I cooked them they sadly turned bright green. These carrots stay a gorgeous purple even after cooking
Grate the carrots next. I chose to grate them very finely to let as much colour leach out into the cake batter as possible
I ground the pistachios just in my food processor, it was very easy and only took about a minute. The smell of the freshly ground nuts was amazing!
Separate the eggs
Whip the egg whites until nice stiff peaks form, then set aside
Beat all the ingredients together except the eggwhites, until nice lightened and a bit fluffy
My mixer is very strong so it had no problem with that, otherwise leave out the carrots until the batter is well beaten then mix through
Stir in about a third of the egg whites to lighten the batter
Then carefully fold in the rest of the whites. Don't knock the air out of them, they make the mix light and fluffy and help it rise
Pour the batter into a well greased cake pan, then bake for about an hour at 180*C
Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then move to a rack to cool totally before icing
My lovely violets: syrup, candied flowers and fresh from the garden
Roughly crush up the candied violets by bashing them in a mortar and pestle, or in a bag with a rolling pin
To ice the cake I made a glaze with a cup of pure icing sugar mixed with enough syrup to make a runny mix to pour over the top, then sprinkled it with crushed candied violets while it was still wet.
Do this while the cake is still on the rack so it dribbles over the edge and looks pretty. Catch any excess drips on a plate underneath. Don't forget the plate though, or it will be a sticky mess!
See the gorgeous purple flecks through the cake?
Such a lovely cake, the flavours worked together beautifully. The violet matched so very well and didn't over power the carrot-iness at all.
A perfect tribute to the taste and scent of Spring
So Dear Readers, what do you think of the purple carrots, and what is the weirdest flavour combination you've ever tried?