Saturday, April 11, 2020

Carrot, Toasted Hazelnut and Cheesecake Layer Cake

In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.

                                 Bertolt Brecht

I hope that you have been enjoying your Easter weekend so far.  It may be difficult for many of us (including me!) being separated physically from our loved ones, but it is worth it to save health and lives.

Difficult times are a part of life.  I cannot complain as my life has been easy compared to the lives of my immediate forebears.

This is my great grandma:    

I love this photo because she is holding a cake.   Great Granny went through a lot in her life - she immigrated to Australia in the late 1800s on a ship at age 3 from what was then part of Germany, she lived on a farm in a slab house, had numerous children, and survived a snake bite and the loss of a child. Apparently she was famed for her recipes for homemade sausages and bruise ointment, which sadly no-one thought to write down, so they are lost to history.  I don't know much more about her life, but it seems that, like many pioneers, Great Granny was made of stern stuff.   I am inspired by the courage and determination of women like her.

To celebrate this Easter weekend, I wanted to make a carrot cake, as it fits in well with the Easter themes of spring (although we are going into autumn in the Southern hemisphere) and bunnies (new life).

I chose the recipe for Carrot, Toasted Hazelnut and Cheesecake Layer Cake from Beatrix Bakes by Natalie Paull (divided by 4, to minify it).   I love the fact that if you can't decide between cake and cheesecake, this recipe allows you to have both.

The cake component is a delicate, light sponge-like carrot cake containing ground toasted hazelnuts.  It is so delicate that my bottom layer fell apart when I tried to flip the cheesecake layer out onto it.  Luckily, the stickiness of the cheesecake allowed me to glue the base cake layer back together respectably.

The cheesecake is a part of recipe of the filling from "The cheesecake (that you will love the most)" recipe in Beatrix Bakes.     You can also find the recipe online here.  For my mini version, I made a quarter of the filling recipe.  I substituted natural Greek yoghurt for the sour cream, which worked fine.

The frosting required marscapone, but I did not have any, so I just increased the cream cheese component.  I think I would have liked the frosting better without the white chocolate, which made it a bit too claggy and sweet for me, so I think I'd just make normal cream cheese icing if making this cake again.  

To make this cake (mini version), you will need:

1/4 batch of cheesecake filling (recipe at the link above)


30g toasted hazelnuts, skins removed
55g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt
1 egg
50g sugar
35ml oil (I used grapeseed oil)
3/4 carrot, peeled and grated

Frosting (I made a half batch as 1/4 batch was not enough)

80g cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
15g butter, softened
25g melted white chocolate

For the cheesecake:

Preheat your oven to 120 degrees Celsius.  Grease and line a 6" round shallow cake pan.  Pour the cheesecake filling mixture into the pan, and place the pan in a roasting tray (I used a 9" cake tin).  Pour hot water into the roasting tin to come one third of the way up the sides of the cheesecake pan, being careful not to get water into the cheesecake itself.   Bake the cheesecake in the oven for ~20 minutes or until it has set firmly.

Remove the cheesecake from the oven and the roasting tin, and put it into the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.

For the cakes: 

Turn up the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.  

Put 20g of the toasted hazelnuts into food processor and blitz until they form fine crumbs (but do not overblitz or you will get a paste).  Chop the other 10g of toasted hazelnuts coarsely with a knife and set aside. 

Spray two x 6"inch cake tins with cooking oil spray and line the base and sides of the tins with baking paper.  

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl.

Put the egg and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for 10 minutes on high speed, then reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and beat for a further 2 minutes.   Increase the mixer speed slightly and stream in the oil.

Put the grated carrots and hazelnut crumbs into a large bowl.  Pour the egg mixture over the carrots and hazelnuts, then fold together gently with a rubber spatula.  Add the dry ingredients and fold in gently.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake tins, and smooth the tops with a metal spatula.  Bake the cakes in the oven for ~20 minutes or until cooked through.

Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the tins and turning the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool.

For the frosting:

Put all of the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted and beat on high speed  until light and fluffy.


Put one of the cakes onto a cake board which has a dab of frosting in the centre to secure the cake.  Put half a tablespoon of frosting on the top of each cake and spread out to the edges of the cakes.  As Natalie says, do this carefully, as the cakes are quite fragile - I tore my bottom layer a little at this stage. 

Invert the chilled cheesecake directly onto the bottom layer of cake.  Again, be careful - my cheesecake layer did not pop straight out of the tin, and when I tried to get it out, I ended up mangling the bottom layer of cake - thank goodness the sticky cheesecake allowed me to glue the cake layer onto the cheesecake layer itself to stabilise the cake.

Place the frosted side of the other cake on top of the cheesecake layer, and gently push all three layers into alignment.

Using a metal spatula, spread the remaining frosting over the top of the cake, and sprinkle with the coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts.


1 comment:

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Dear Gaye, I am a carrot cake lover and nothing really beats a good carrot cake at Easter or and time of the year for that matter. How nice that you manage to scale down the recipes your are baking to suit your needs - your mini version looks fabulous on that pretty plate.
And I love the story about your Great Grandma - wonderful memories!
All the very best!