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Carrot Cake – a Fanny Farmer Recipe

Updated on January 22, 2013

Carrot Torte-A Delicious Dessert

The author's efforts at Carrot Torte.
The author's efforts at Carrot Torte. | Source

Or a Heavenly Carrot Chiffon Cake

I was looking for a recipe for carrot cake that was (a) non-traditional and (b) didn't contain pineapple. After searching the internet and not finding anything that peaked my taste buds, I turned to my 1979 edition of The Fanny Farmer Cookbook. And there it was: Carrot Torte.

The Fannie Farmer Cookbook is one of those quintessential tomes that belong in every kitchen and has since it first appeared in 1896 as "The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer." My copy was given to my husband by his mom when he left home to go out on his own. I can attest to the fact that he never used it. I love it.

Recipe for Carrot Torte

A torte is a cake made with mostly eggs and just a little flour. I'd never made a torte; this recipe looked fairly simple so I thought I'd give it a go. The ingredients, as listed in my book are:

  • 4 eggs, separated - I use brown, free-range organic eggs and am not always the best egg separate-r around, so I actually went through 5 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar - I use the fine Baker's Sugar
  • 1 cup raw, grated carrot - I discovered that one very large carrot gives you slightly more than a level cup...I always figure a little more is good
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon - my family doesn't care for the rind of anything in their baked goods so I treated this as optional and did not include it
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice - no problem here, I always keep a bottle in the ‘fridge
  • 1/2 cup flour - this surprised me...a cake with only this amount of flour?
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder - again, my cupboard always has this on hand
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt - I only use sea salt in my cooking

Making my Carrot Torte

This took me a little while to do as I wanted to do a good job. I preheated the oven as directed to 325 degrees F. and found that I was getting to use for the very first time ever my new springform pan. It's non-stick, but I buttered and floured it anyway.

Beating egg yolks until they are "pale and thick" takes practice. The reason is, how do you know when you've gotten to the right pale color and how thick? What I discovered is that by using my handmixer on speed #4 for several minutes, there was a definite change in color and degree of wateriness. The directions then called for slowly adding the sugar. Once done you have this marvelous, very thick, very pale yellow pre-batter. Stir in the carrots next and it all turns a beautiful light orange in color. Then in goes the lemon ingredients and dry ingredients. I included the salt in this step which was in contradiction to the book's directions - you're supposed to add the salt in with the egg whites. Oh well.

The last step is beating the egg whites until stiff but not dry and folding them in. Folding is a weird process - it takes practice. Once done I poured it into my prepped cake pan. I added my own touch: I scattered about ¼ cup of raisins over the top of the batter and then popped it in the oven and baked it for 35 minutes. The directions said 30 to 40 minutes, but I know my oven and figured 35 would be the right time and it was.

After taking it out of the oven and transferring to the cooling rack I took it out of the pan and let it cool the rest of the way before putting it on a plate.

Carrot Torte in close-up

My Carrot Torte effort looks like a short chiffon cake.
My Carrot Torte effort looks like a short chiffon cake. | Source

Sponge Chiffon Carrot

This looked very much like a sponge cake, or a short angel food chiffon cake. Instead of sprinkling confectioners' sugar over the top, as the book suggested, when I first took the cake out of the oven I sprinkled about 1 ½ teaspoons of fine regular sugar flavored with allspice and nutmeg. Sprinkling it on while the cake is hot lets the sugar melt. I keep a small container in my cupboard of this mix to flavor everything from caramelized onions to toast.

This was a delicious cake. It made a great dessert for that evening's dinner, and it was good the following day for lunch.


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    • LindaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda C Smith 

      5 years ago from United States

      Little cupcake size sounds like a good idea!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I used to make this torte back in the 80's from the paperback version of the Fanny Farmer Cookbook. The book is long gone--paperbacks don't last as long as hardcover cookbooks, especially well-loved ones--and I've often wished for this recipe.

      I've never seen it anywhere else, so thanks for posting! I am going to try making this in little cupcake-sizes and see what happens.


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