This is, in fact, a carrot cake—even though at first glance, it seems to have almost nothing in common with the chunky sort of spice cake with cream cheese frosting loved in many corners of the world.
The defining trait these cake sisters share is, of course, the carrots, which bring moisture and sweetness to both. Neither requires much effort or forethought, and both are deeply, sweetly comforting. But the delivery method in this one—which I found by way of pastry chef, blogger, and Youtube star Danielle Noce—is much, much different.
In this carrot cake style—traditional in homes across Brazil—whole chunks of raw carrot go straight into the blender with eggs, oil, and sugar and quickly dissolve into a colorful batter.
Carrots are much wimpier than you'd expect! There isn't a shred of solid matter left, even in low-tech blenders—just a smooth liquid that bakes into a downy, naturally orange-tinted pound cake without having to pre-grate (or even peel) a thing.
On Noce's baking blog, I Could Kill For Dessert—the biggest sweets site in Brazil—she's published a number of slightly different versions handed down from various family members. All of them are written in Portuguese, but with the help of Google Translate, I adapted and tested the one from her mother-in-law.
(That's how simple this recipe is: Even with a few direct translation hiccups—I did have to make the leap from "powder drink" to "baking powder"—there were few places to go astray.)
Although cream cheese frosting would taste just fine here (there are few places it wouldn’t), this sunny puff of a cake is instead hugged with a shiny dark chocolate ganache, offsetting the gentle sweetness with bitter and rich flavors instead of creamy tang.
It's a comforting, not-too-sweet any-day cake, but it's also accidentally perfect for Halloween. Boo, naturally.
Danielle Noce’s Brazilian Carrot Cake (Bolo de Cenoura)
For the carrot cake:
- 2 cups (270g) 1/2-inch (1.3cm) carrot slices (from about 3 medium carrots, scrubbed but not peeled)
- 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (200ml) neutral oil, like grapeseed
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups (360g) sugar
- 1 3/4 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
For the ganache glaze:
- 6 ounces (170g) bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 7 tablespoons (100g) unsalted butter, in 1/2-inch (1.3cm) slices
Photos by Julia Gartland