Friday, 28 August 2015

Carrot and Pineapple Cake

I decided to make this cake to finish off a tin of pineapple chunks, which had been opened to eke out the remains of a fresh fruit salad. I can't remember ever having made a carrot cake with added pineapple before, although I was aware of their existence, of course - I knew I hadn't invented something new! To be honest, until I started looking for recipes, I thought I would be making a Hummingbird Cake, but soon realised that was a banana cake with added pineapple!

I also quickly realised that many carrot cake recipes make huge cakes! Is this because they are traditionally used as celebration cakes in the USA? After a bit of searching I found this recipe from Anna Olson, the Canadian TV cook, which seemed to make a cake of a sensible size for two people. It caught my attention because it used maple syrup and fresh ginger in the cake - two flavours I like, but didn't expect to find in a carrot cake. It also used just the amount of pineapple that I had available!

It was a pretty straightforward cake, once I'd translated the ingredients to metric weights. After being drawn to the recipe for it's use of maple syrup, I found my tin was emptier than I thought - I could only get a couple of tablespoons out of it, so made up the volume with pomegranate molasses. Obviously, this had an effect on the final flavour, but as the recipe only needed 60mls of syrup in total, I don't think the maple syrup would have been the dominant flavour in the cake, anyway. The only other point to note was that the cake cooked in only 65 minutes, rather than the 75-90 minutes suggested in the recipe. I guess there's a lot of leeway with cakes containing ingredients which can be variable in moisture content, such as grated carrots and crushed pineapple.

For the sake of our waistlines, I left off the cream cheese frosting, and made a glacé icing using some of the juices from the canned pineapple. Which brings me to the current controversy about Tate and Lyle adding maize starch to icing sugar instead of the previous E-number anticaking agent. Like other users, I found it harder work than usual to get the icing sugar through a sieve, and initially it clumped badly when liquid was added although it did become smooth eventually. I can't understand why change was really needed - I've never had a pack of icing sugar 'clump' no matter how long it's been stored.

The cake sunk a little, as it cooled, leaving a lip around the edge, which contained the glacé icing, but could have been covered up if I'd used a cream cheese frosting.

This cake was more moist and denser than the carrot cake I usually make. This didn't make it better or worse, just different! What was a disappointment was how bland it was. Considering the ingredients, I expected it to have far more depth of flavour, but there wasn't enough of either the fresh ginger or the cinnamon, and the pineapple wasn't noticeable in the taste of the cake. I'm also used to carrot cakes with either sultanas or nuts in, to add to the texture, and this was an element sorely missing here - perhaps if I'd left the pineapple in larger pieces that might have been  an improvement in that respect. A touch of citrus to lift the flavour wouldn't have come amiss either - another ingredient often found in carrot cakes, obviously for good reason! It wasn't an unpleasant cake, just not memorable enough to add to the 'cook again' list!

Note: (added 31/08/15) Silver Spoon and Aldi own brand icing sugar don't have maize starch added, so  icing sugar that is easier to work with isn't going to be difficult to find. Tate and Lyle will be losing out bigtime, I suspect!


belleau kitchen said...

Oooh. Carrot and pineapple. What a beautiful combo. Love those tinned pineapples. So fruity and moist. Love these.

Snowy said...

Wouldn't have thought of putting carrot with pineapple, but it looks good.