Nov 22

‘C’ is for carrot cake and Christmas


November is almost over and soon it will the my favourite month of the year. There will be festivities and lights, good cheer and yes, food. I feel exceptionally fortunate to wind up in this part of the globe where I can indulge my foodie senses and explore beyond the boundaries of my limited food knowledge. So far it has been a real treat discovering the various foods and dishes of the Netherlands, many of which are steeped in history and tradition, and it is this tradition, this pratice that has been going on and on passed down from one generation to the next for centuries that I absolutely adore.

In the Netherlands many of the sugared festive treats are predominantly spiced with the likes of ginger, anise, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg, to name a few. Back in the day (we’re talking waaaaaaaay back, 1600’s) the Dutch was one of the dominant powers in trade; the other megapower player was Britain, who formed the British East-India Trading Company round about this time. Two years later, not to be outdone, the Dutch formed the Dutch East-India Company in direct competition for resources in Asia. Heh, we learned about this in history class back in 1998, but I never payed much attention… history was one of my worse subjects and I managed to scrape a passing mark in my final year. However, all this rings a bell for me now, a decade later, and somehow it all makes perfect sense. Fancy that!

 The Dutch set about dominating the spice trade based out of Batavia ~ which is present day Jakarta. Spice was a very valuable commodity then and the Portuguese who were already dealing in spice trading were unable to keep up with European demand. So an opportunity was spotted and the Dutch went for it ~ several battles ensured on the island of Java for a foothold on the trade and pretty soon the Dutch were victorious, and there they sat for almost 200 years until the company went bankrupt. Shame.

So yeah, it makes a lot of sense now why so many sweet treats here in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium contain a lot of spice in them. And to my surprise the names of these spices are somewhat familiar to me coz that’s what we call them back home too, in Bahasa.

  • Djinten = Jintan = Cumin
  • Koenjit = Kunyit = Tumeric
  • Ketoembarzaad = Biji Ketumbar = Coriander Seeds

I have also been learning more Dutch words and expanding my vocabulary. Still can’t speak a proper full sentence (I’d say my French is better) … but I sure can point and name things in shop windows. 🙂

  • Tjim = Thyme
  • Kaneel = Cinnamon
  • Gember = Ginger
  • Nootmuskaat = Nutmeg
  • Celery = Selderij
  • Garlic = Knoflook
  • Onions = Uien
  •  Lemongrass = Citroengras
  •  Flour = Tarwebloem


So that’s really coming along well. At least I can pick out the ingredients for my cooking and read the weekly specials catalogue.

Anyway, back to our topic at hand — Carrot Cake.

The first time I encountered this type of cake I thought it was the weirdest thing ever …. like, who makes cake out of a carrot, honestly?! Carrots to me were components of something savoury, and it had no business being in a cake along side walnuts and cinnamon. EWW! Make a stew, make a veggie stir-fry, make a pie, but not a cake!

I was 12 (turning 12) and my mother decided that 12 yr olds got carrot cake for their birthdays ~ nevermind that I objected most vehemently ~ it was so, as the Bible had written; she really did have a large-ish piece of stone and in it was carved “CARROT CAKE FOR 12 YEAR OLDS!” Lol. No, I jest and I am going off on a tangent coz suddenly Eddie Izzard is in my head. But what do 12 yr olds know what they want for their birthdays anyway (according to Mum). Incidentally, I do believe it was her first attempt at a carrot cake herself, and i must say she went to the effort of making it all puuuuurty with marzepan carrots on the top of the icing and what not. And what did I do?? I waited patiently for the birthday song to finish, blew out the candles, made a wish, cut the cake …..> and then refused to eat it! Ahahahhaa. Yupp, I refused to have anything to do with my birthday cake; but the party guests were shovelling it into their mouths like it was the best thing ever since sliced bread. Many compliments followed and my mother was pleased with herself. See, do as the Bible says and thou shalt be rewarded with compliments. Hahaha. Whateverrrrr. I consoled myself with what little presents I received, away from the cake, lamenting their lowered numbers this year compared to last year. Poo! Don’t you hate growning up?


Carrot Cake

  • 225 g finely grated carrot
  • 130 g light brown or golden sugar
  • 2 large whole eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest from a whole orange
  • juice from half an orange
  • 130 g raisins or sultanas
  • 100 g walnuts, chopped
  • 100 g cranberries
  • 120 mls vegetable oil
  • 130 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt



1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a loaf tin or a medium round tin.

2. In a clean bowl grate some carrots and squeeze out as much of the juice as possible. Then in the same bowl combine the walnuts, sultanas and cranberries.

3. In another bowl sift together all the dry ingredients : flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg.

4. In a mixer (I used a balloon whisk attachment) whisk the eggs and the sugar on high until fluffy and glossy.

5. Add the orange zest and vanilla extract. Keep the machine running on low. Then add the oil and the orange juice.

6. Stop the machine, scrape down the sides and sift in the dry indredients. Turn machine on low for just about a minute until all the ingredients are just incorporated.

7. Scrape down the sides again then add the fruit to the mix and fold everything in gently.

8. Transfer to the baking tin and bake for 50 minutes. Oven temps vary so at the 40 minute mark insert a skewer to see if the cake is done. If not, return to the oven and check every 10 minutes.


Orange Cream Cheese Frosting.

  • 125 g soft unsalted butter
  • 370 g cream cheese at room temp
  • 50 g whipped cream
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 250 g powdered icing sugar

Permanent link to this article: http://foodflurries.com/sweet/c-is-for-carrot-cake

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