Yet another food magazine hit the newsstands in France last year, this one being dedicated entirely to baking and sweets. Fou de Pâtisserie is different in that top pastry chefs as well as up-and-comers in France and from around the world generously share some of their recipes. This is a fantastic magazine for those who would like to know any and all things about the world of French pastries. Not only does it showcase the artistry of French pastries and their historical origins, but each issue also offers readers a glimpse into the careers of the masterminds behind the gorgeous creations through interviews that reveal how they got their start, what motivates them, their style, etc. The magazine also comes chock full of tutorials of basic techniques. Though recipes of the hautes pâtisseries featured can be daunting, simpler recipes for classics, such as eclairs and muffins, are also included for amateurs with limited skills like myself.
I’ve collected every single issue of Fou de Pâtisserie published, but I had yet to attempt any of their recipes until recently. I was craving carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, but having never made one before, I went on the search for a recipe. Though a very American treat, I skipped over the recipes from the states, because, as I had mentioned before, they are often based on an imprecise measuring system. I also don’t really like the French interpretation of certain American desserts, particularly those for cookies. The ratio of the ingredients are usually somehow off, so cookies end up being a bit dense and dry. And their version of cupcakes just don’t quite whet my appetite like those back home do. Being a bit finnicky, I was not left with many options to choose from. Luckily, the very first issue of Fou de Pâtisserie that I had picked up last year had a carrot cake recipe, which was actually neither French nor American. It was actually from the famous British-run Rose Bakery in the 9th arrondissement of Paris.
Though the recipe looked pretty good, I changed it up a bit to suit my own tastes and to give it more pep. I reduced the amount of sugar and added some grated ginger as well as raisins. I also changed some of the steps to ensure a more uniform batter. Rather than sifting the dry ingredients together, her instructions say to just dump the flour and dry ingredients into the wet batter and mix. As for the frosting, I increased the cream cheese to butter ratio from 2:1 to 3:1, added grated ginger, and topped it with some crushed walnuts. I really liked the ginger, because it gave it some spice. Otherwise, I think it would have been a little too bland.
Initially, I was somewhat skeptical about how the cake would taste, given it uses oil rather than butter. Having only made cakes with butter, I was afraid that it would taste as though it was missing something. However, with the cinnamon and ginger, the cake had a nice harmony of flavors. Being oil-based, it was also less prone to drying out. Though, that was not much of a worry, since it disappeared pretty quickly. My co-workers gobbld up one whole loaf, and I split the second one with the retired couple that lives across the hall from us. The lady of the house loved the cake, and gave us a jar of her homemade apricot jam, which I have yet to try.
Carrot Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting
makes 2 loaves or 2 dozen muffins
200 g sugar
350 ml vegetable oil
300 g flour
1 tspn ground cinnamon
125 g finely chopped walnuts
1/4 tspn salt
4-5 carrots, grated
3 tspns finely minced ginger
75 g raisins
300 g cream cheese
100 g butter
75 g powdered sugar (add more or less depending on taste)
0.5 tspn vanilla extract
1.5 tspn finely minced ginger
a couple tbspns of crushed walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 200°C
- In bowl, sift together the flour cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and chopped walnuts. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, beat the sugar with the eggs until it reaches a mousse-like consistency, but before it starts to form stiff peaks.
- Pour in the oil and continue to beat the mixture for a couple more minutes. Then add the flour/walnut mixture and stir until thoroughly incorporated.
- Fold in the carrots, ginger and raisins. Once thoroughly mixed, pour the mixture into two buttered loaf pans and bake for 40-45 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a knife into the center of the loaf. If it comes out clean, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan. Then carefully remove them from the pans and allow them to cool further on a rack.
Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer for about a minute, until it is uniform and kind of fluffy. Then, add the butter and beat into well incorporated. Add the sugar, vanilla extract and minced ginger and continue beating until smooth. Once the cakes are completely cool, cover the surface uniformly with the frosting and sprinkle with some crushed walnuts.
Best enjoyed in the morning with your morning beverage of choice or after a light meal.