Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Saffron Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Another cake I made for my dear K's mother's birthday party last weekend* was this saffron carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. A recipe is from the Swedish Arla site (Saffran- och morotskaka) and although I was a bit heavy-handed with saffron (we've got loads at home, and it's not easy to measure out half a gram when our scales only recognise 2 g increments!), the cake was a success. Moist and bright-coloured, with a wee bit tangy frosting.

* We only attended the Saturday party and were surprised to find out that the most famous Estonian composer - probably the only Estonian composer most of you have ever heard of (who also happens to be a classmate of K's mum) - made a surprise appearance at the party on Sunday. If we had only known that before, I would have turned up on Sunday as well :)
Anybody wants to guess who was eating my cakes? The hint I'm giving you is that K's mum turned 72.

Saffron Carrot Cake
(Safrani-porgandikook toorjuustuglasuuriga)

100 g butter, at room temperature
250 ml (a cup) of caster sugar
0.5 g saffron threads
3 large eggs
250 g carrots, finely grated
grated zest of half an orange
300 ml plain/all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder

Cream cheese frosting:
200 g cream cheese
0.5 tsp vanilla extract
sugar, to taste
1 tsp cinnamon

Make the cake batter. Mix butter, sugar and saffron threads (powder them between your fingertips) in a bowl and cream until pale and light. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Add grated carrots and orange zest.
Mix flour with baking powder and fold into the batter.
Pour the batter in a 24 cm cake tin (butter the tin first and sprinkle with fine breadcrumbs or line with a parchment paper).
Bake in the middle of a 175 C oven for about 40 minutes, until the cake is cooked (test for doneness with a toothpick). Cool in a tin.

To make the cream cheese frosting, mix the cheese with vanilla and a bit of sugar, spread on the cake.
Sprinkle with cinnamon.


Peabody said...

Oh, the use of saffron in dessert is always so tasty...I bet this cake is wonderful.

Pene said...

I'll guess Arvo Pärt as he was born in 1935 in Paide. I like carrot cakes very much, Pille.

lobstersquad said...

wow, you´re the dream come true for a mother in law, I bet.
WIsh her a very belated happy birthday from us!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Pille, it looks beautiful! I love the vibrant color.

Marika said...

Kas oli Arvo Pärt?

Alanna said...

I knew the Arvo Part name (and have two CDs, music I call 'winter music' that my family calls, Do we have to listen to that again?) but thought he was quite young! Given K's Mum, he is!

Suzana said...

Lovely cake! Love the combo of flavours and textures - saffron and carrots topped with cheese frosting. Yummy!

Elizabeth said...

Ah, Pille, you missed the expression of beatitude on Arvo Pärt's face when eating your cake :-) you miss it on the face of your readers, when they follow (at home, in different countries) your culinary suggestions and adventure in the fantastic world of tastes... But, believe me, this happens every time we try from your recipes!!!

Lydia said...

I'll have to chime in with Arvo Part, too. And that cake -- lovely!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I've long been a lover of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting Pille but saffron in the cake! Wow that sounds wonderful!

shannon said...

Hi Pille,

In the last few months, you may remember receiving an email invitation to become a part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher Program. With all the recipe-writing and food photography to be completed, we know emails can easily get lost in the shuffle, so Foodbuzz would like to re-extend our offer of inviting you to be a part of our food blogger network. We are very impressed with the quality of your posts, and I would love to send you more details about the program, so if you are interested, please email me at

And I've never used saffron in a dessert before. Maybe your recipe will be the first I try! =)


Shannon Eliot
Editorial Assistant,

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I love carrot cake, but I've never come across it with saffron in it before. Hmmm, methinks I'll have to give it a try - thanks for the recipe!

Spinning Girl said...


Head uut aastat!

DaviMack said...

But can you really taste the saffron?

Sounds wonderful!

Pille said...

Peabody – I’m still learning to like saffron, but since I’ve got loads at home, I can afford to experiment :)

Pene – that’s a bit unfair – you’re local :) But yes, she and Arvo Pärt were classmates.

Lobstersquad – I’ve passed your greetings on to her, thank you!

Patricia – the colour was pretty eye-catching indeed!

Marika – oli, oli :)

Alanna – did you know that Arvo Pärt was Estonian? I’m ashamed, actually, as I’ve only got one of his CDs. I did attend several of his concerts in Edinburgh, however, he was well known there. (A typical dialogue: me: ‘I’m Pille from Estonia’. He/She: ‘Oh, isn’t that where Arvo Paaart is from?’)

Suzana – thank you!

Elizabeth – you’re too kind. Seems that Arvo Pärt actually ate my chocolate cake and not my carrot cake on that day. I must blog about that chocolate cake now, I guess :)

Lydia – well, you’re absolutely right :)

Tanna – just remember not to overdo with saffron!

Shannon – yeasted saffron bread is quite common here (probably a Swedish influence), but I hadn’t used it in other desserts until now either..

Aforkfulofspaghetti – well, saffron makes the colour much nicer, so do try it!

Spinning Girl – Sulle ka!

DaviMack – yes, you can. A bit too much, actually, as I wasn’t sure how much is half a gram. I’ll go easier on saffron next time…

DaviMack said...

I suppose it also depends upon what kind of saffron used - whether you used Spanish or Egyptian, for example, might make a big difference. I've never chosen to afford the really expensive Spanish stuff, but the Egyptian stuff is fairly mild ... so maybe you used the "real" saffron?