Thu 16 Nov 2017
Read other related stories: Gas Grill Techniques , indirect cooking , Vegetables
A FAVORITE ROOT VEGETABLE SMOKED MAKES FOR AN AWESOME CAKE!
Carrots are ready for picking and for cooking! We’ve got an easy smoking technique that can be done with whole, sliced, even grated carrot. Once smoked, we are taking all that flavor and making an oil-free, carrot-almond cake with ricotta cream.
Nutrition for your Bones
Carrots are known for their supply of antioxidant nutrients but they are also prized for their benefit to bone mass. Rich in Vitamin A, biotin, vitamin K, fiber and so much more, carrots offer a variety of color options: traditional orange, yellow, white, purple, and red. As they are considered a hardy root vegetable, they tend to keep longer than most other vegetables. On the grill or smoker, they work perfectly at absorbing the level of smoke vapor you want for recipes.
Carrot and Grill Preparation
As carrots are a root vegetable, they can get a lot of dirt on them. It’s important that you wash them well and then pat dry. If you want to smoke your carrots whole, simply trim the ends. My plan is to use these in our smoked carrot cake recipe so I’ll introduce my carrots to the food processor to produce even shredding. Once shredded, I place in a grill safe, flat pan. I’ll be using two SmokinLicious® single filet wood chunks in Wild Cherry to keep the flavor on the mild side. These chunks are placed on a lit burner set to medium-low. Only that burner will be on! Preheat the grill using all burners, then when the carrots go on the grill, turn off all the burners but the one with the wood chunks.
Just a Little Time
As I’ve elected to pre-shred my carrot for the eventual cake recipe, the actual smoking time will be quite short. I don’t want to remove all the water content naturally found in carrot as I want a moist cake. My total cooking time is roughly 15 minutes. If you do want additional smoke flavor without dehydrating your carrots, you can do a handheld food smoker application as well as this a cold smoking technique that will not affect the moisture of the food nor provide any cooking.
With our carrots wood grilled, it’s time to start with the cake ingredients. Preheat the oven to 375°F. First up, 1-1/2 cups of finely ground almonds, preferably blanched, finely grated lemon zest from 2 lemons, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. If you cannot locate pre-ground almonds, you may use blanched slivered almonds and process in the food processor. Add all three ingredients to the food processor and pulse until a fine, ground consistency is achieved. Time to prepare the 9-inch springform pan. First, butter the bottom and sides. Feel free to add a buttered parchment round to the bottom of the pan if you wish. Then take a small amount of the ground almond mixture and apply to the sides of the pan. Before we start on the cake batter, melt four tablespoons of butter and set aside.
Now it’s time for the basic dry ingredients for our smoked carrot cake batter. This is a recipe that is oil free. I’ll be using cake flour to bring more lightness to this cake. Here’s what you’ll need for the start of the cake batter
- Unbleached cake flour-1-1/4 cups
- baking powder-2 teaspoons
- salt-¼ teaspoon
All these ingredients will be sifted into a medium bowl to bring airiness to the cake. Next up, the wet ingredients. You will need:
- sugar-¾ cup
- 4 large eggs
- almond extract-¼ teaspoon
Crack the eggs in a large bowl and add the sugar. With an electric mixer set to medium-high speed, beat the egg mixture until pale, foamy, and thickened. Reduce the speed to low and add in the remaining almond mixture, almond extract, and the flour mixture. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated into the cake batter, take the 4 tablespoons of melted butter and pour over the batter, gently incorporating. In goes the smoked, grated carrot – about two cups. Just combine those items and then spread the batter into your prepared 9-inch springform pan. I’ve used the orange carrot for this recipe as they were available in the garden but I prefer yellow carrot for a golden color all the way through the cake.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F once the cake is placed on the middle rack (From the preheated oven of 375°F). It will take about 40 minutes to cook through. While it’s baking, I make the ricotta cream. Gather together:
- ricotta cheese-1 cup
- sour cream-1 cup
- honey-2 tablespoons
- confectioner’s sugar-2 tablespoons
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
Combine all these ingredients and refrigerator until the cake is ready to serve.
Our Smoked Carrot Cake- Spongy, Light Goodness!
With our cake lightly browned and springing back when touched in the center, it’s ready to come out of the oven and cool. Once the cooled cake can be plated to a cake stand, I take about ¼ cup of confectioner’s sugar and sift the sugar over the cake. Now it’s time to slice this succulent cake and serve our ricotta cream on the side. This is a very subtle smoked carrot so you will not get an overwhelming smoked flavor. In fact, if you don’t tell anyone you smoked the carrot, they likely will never know. Experiment with flavors you like – swap crushed pistachio for the almond, coconut extract for the almond extract. You can even dust with cocoa powder. Anything goes! Don’t forget, only dust the cake with the confectioner’s sugar before you’re ready to serve as this cake is very moist and will increase in moisture as it sits.
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