Hey there heat eaters, it’s time for cake again.
Today, however, we’re going a little hotter and taking inspiration from my garden.
As I briefly mentioned in my post on heat and size, I’ve been growing and thoroughly enjoying some orange habaneros. They’re the least floral tasting habs I’ve come across and they seem, to me, just a little bit fruity. Not in the acidic, almost orangey way that some other habaneros do but in the way a particularly sweet and juicy bell pepper might.
Not that they really taste like bell peppers, either, mind. Those are simply the closest thing I can put my finger on right now. These chillies are honestly quite unique, even if they are still recognisably habs, and there’s something about them that just made me have to pair them with carrots in a nice hot cake.
Unfortunately, I had some pretty poor growing conditions and never got enough to do anything with but, after a lot of searching, I found a one man company called Chillies2U who would deliver exactly the colour I needed.
His habaneros were just a tiny bit hotter than mine but a good deal bigger and just as tasty. As you can see below, I’m using the five biggest for this recipe.
I also used:
175g Caster Sugar
2 tablespoons Honey
175ml Vegetable Oil
175g Self Raising Flour
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
I am not, however, using the nutmeg you see above. It’s a fairly deep flavoured spice and I don’t want to risk overpowering the flavour that we’re looking for. The flavour of the chillies themselves.
Likewise, the flour I’m using is white because, while wholemeal is the usual choice for a fruit cake, this isn’t one. Unlike with your average carrot cake, the idea here is to keep the cake itself as mild flavoured as possible, so that fruit loaf taste really isn’t desired.
I mean, why track down a special kind of habanero if I’m just going to cover it up?
So I preheat the oven to 180°c like usual and get to mixing.
First the sugar, honey and oil, then the eggs bit by bit.
Once those are whisked to the point of being pale and frothy, it’s time to fold in the flour and cinnamon, gently so as not to undo all your hard work aerating the batter a moment ago.
Then we prepare the carrots and chillies.
To get the absolute most flavour out of these habaneros, we want their body, not the seeds or pithy placenta, so go ahead and cut them out. I know it seems wrong to chuck away the hottest part but look at it this way: It means you can get away with using more of the tasty bit.
When you’re doing this, however, you might want to wear gloves to avoid spreading the juices to unwanted places later. These may not be the world’s hottest or anything but fresh chilli juice is a nightmare to wash off so it’s still best to take precautions.
After de-coring them all, it’s time to blend those chillies to a pulp. Any blender will do for this as they’re fairly soft fleshed. All that matters is that you get the pieces nice and fine to match the carrot you’ll be grating in a moment.
Unfortunately, that’s where the quality of your blender does matter. If you have a particularly good one, you can get away with just washing the carrots and blending them in with the chillies. Mine, though, is pretty average and simply cannot handle anything as hard as raw carrot.
If this is the case for you too, the only solution is using a fine cheese grater to grate them by hand.
Whichever way you do it, you need to make sure you mix the resulting pulps thoroughly before stirring them into your batter. An act that should also be done carefully to avoid clumps but that should also be done gently enough to retain any air in the mix. Those little bubbles go a long way towards making your cake rise.
Finally, it’s time to bake your cake for roughly 40 minutes, after which it should come out looking something like this:
A gorgeous light carrot cake that carries a now clearly baked but still distinctive orange habanero flavour. A delicious desert for those who appreciate not just the heat but also the taste of hot chillies.
Not that it doesn’t have that heat. Fresh out the oven it has a strong
that drops to the lower end of that number as the cake itself cools down. A piercing after burn that hits at the end of each bite, leaving an oddly comforting warmth in the back of your mouth and throat. Perfect for these long winter nights.
But when I made this cake, I wasn’t going to just leave it there. It was the birthday of a friend so it had to look good. I had to ice it.
In a rush, I grabbed my butter and icing sugar for the quickest and easiest blend I could muster, adding just a drop of water to ease the mixing. Then I recalled a little something I’d been saving for the right occasion:
The Sugar Tree’s habanero infused castor sugar.
They, of course, claim that it’s an absolutely insane heat but they’re not freaks or spice lovers. They’re not into their chilli. The Sugar Tree favour delicate flavours to be added to coffee, tea or baking.
To me, that’s what this is. The top end of a
with a gentle habanero flavour, somewhere between the red and orange varieties.
By the time I’ve added this to anything, I can barely feel it at all but that’s ok here. The cake itself has plenty of heat to be going on with but this sugar adds both flavour and just a little crunch to the icing. Icing that would be nothing but sweet creaminess without it.
In all honesty, I chose to add it more for decoration than out of any hope that it might bring something to the eating experience but, when it melted slightly into the icing that I had applied a little too early (I was in a rush), it created something wonderful.
If you and those around you like it hot and love the taste of either habaneros or carrot cake, this is well worth making!