It was my turn to bring goodies for my team’s weekly Kabbalat Shabbat, which literally means “Receiving Sabbath”. Kabbalat Shabbat is usually celebrated by reciting Psalms and prayers before Shabbat begins on Friday evening, but in Israeli companies and offices it has also come to mean a break on Thursday for colleagues to get together informally over savory or sweet munchies and drinks. Weather permitting, we have our break on the rooftop of our building where there are nice niches with tables and chairs to sit and look over the Sharon plain. Since my birthday was the next day, I decided to bring a birthday cake. Usually we bring coffee cakes or cheese and nuts, but when someone has a birthday, they try to bring something more special.
When I was a child, I always asked for a German Chocolate cake for my birthday. Talk about sickeningly sweet! I am not sure when I stopped asking for cakes with tons of frosting, but now I really dislike buttercream, or even worse, frosting made with shortening like they put on cakes in the States with cups and cups of icing sugar.
But I don’t mind the sour icing that is put on a carrot cake. Usually, it is icing made with cream cheese, but I found an interesting frosting made with mascarpone and fromage frais, which is a low fat cheese from France. It is similar to German quark. I decided to use labane, a yogurt cheese, that is readily available in the Middle East and is 5% fat. This carrot cake is a moist spicy cake that goes well with the sharpness of the icing.
The team enjoyed the cake and took seconds and thirds, but fortunately there was enough left to bring back to Mr. BT, who would have been disappointed if hadn’t got any.
300g (2 3/4 cups) self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of salt
335ml (1 2/3 cup) sunflower oil or other light vegetable oil
450g (2 1/4 cup) caster sugar
2 cups grated carrots
1 1/4 chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons hot water
Butter and flour for the tins
500g (1lb) mascarpone
400g (3/4lb) Labane, 5% fat (or drained greek-style yogurt)
1/4 cup icing (confectioner's) sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Lightly grease two 23cm (9-inch) spring-form cake tins with melted butter. Line the bottom of each tin with parchment paper. Butter the paper and then dust the tin with flour.
Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Separate two of the eggs.
In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the oil and the sugar. Slowly add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, beating well. Add the carrots, and then add the walnuts. Then add the flour followed by the hot water. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and fold them into the cake batter.
Divide the cake mixture between the prepared tins. Place the baking tins on a baking tray in the middle of the oven and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes and then remove them from the tray and let cool on a baking rack.
Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Cover with clingfilm and chill for 1-2 hours, until you are ready to ice the cake.
With a palette knife, spread a layer of icing on one cake, then press the other on top. Spread the rest of the icing over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Keep refrigerated.