Adapted from Ina Garten’s classic carrot cake, this version gets a quick upgrade with leftover sourdough starter and fragrant chai spice. I grate the carrots in advance, skip the walnuts and raisins, and bake the cake one day before serving.
2 cups (400 g) sugar
1 1/3 cups (320 ml) olive oil
3 extra-large eggs (70 g each), at room temperature
1/2 cup (120 g) leftover sourdough starter (see note)
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 tsp chai spice
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
3 cups (300 g) grated carrots, about 3 large ones
1 level tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2– 1 cup (75 g– 150 g) raisins (optional)
1/2– 1 cup (60 g -120 g) chopped walnuts (optional)
For the Frosting
8 oz (226 g) mascarpone cheese, softened
8 oz (226 g) cream cheese, softened
2 cups (250 g) powdered sugar, sifted
fat pinch of fine sea salt
For the Toppings
Pastel chocolate eggs (optional)
For the Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (a hand held mixer works too), combine the sugar, oil, eggs, sourdough starter, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes until light yellow and slightly thickened. This will give the cake a little lift.
In a separate bowl, sift together the 2 cups of flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture; mix on low speed.
Wash, peel, and grate the carrots with a box grater (this can be done 1 day in advance, covered and chilled until ready to use). Combine the carrots with 1 tablespoon of flour; mix well. This will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake. Add the carrots to the batter and fold in with a rubber spatula. Pour into the prepared baking pan,
Bake the cake on the center rack for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting and decorating with the pastel chocolate eggs.
For the Frosting
In a stand mixer, add the softened mascarpone and cream cheese. Sifted the powdered sugar directly over the bowl. Add the salt. Mix on medium-low speed until wonderfully light and creamy. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
For best results, use a 100% hydration starter, fed with equal parts flour and water by weight. Its batter-like texture is the perfect match for this carrot cake. If you’re using a thicker, low hydration starter the texture of the cake will be too dry.
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