Fermented Carrot and Cacao Cake

By Michelle Chang 張怡

Carrots are often used as a baby food after four months of age because they are a highly nutritious, but hypoallergenic ingredient. Li Shizhen (李時珍), a famous medical practitioner (acupuncturist, herbalist, naturalist, physician) of the Ming dynasty (明朝July 3, 1518 – 1593) in China, even called carrots the “king of vegetables”. They have many nutrients, can be eaten daily, are cheap, and are known as the “little ginseng”.

The carrot is a biennial herb of the Apiaceae family and can be found almost anywhere in the world, year-round, in a variety of colors, including yellow, white, orange, red and purple.

The edible parts are the fleshy root and leaves. Carrot leaves can be prepared by washing and draining the leaves, then pickling them with salt or shio koji for a few hours to remove the pungent taste of the leaves, then stir-frying them with other ingredients, steaming them, or cooking them in soup.

The roots can be cooked in various ways: raw, stir-fried, baked, stewed. Carotenoids are fat-soluble, so cooking them together with fats can improve their absorption rate.

Because carrots are rich in carbohydrates, it is very suitable for making desserts.
In this recipe for fermented carrot cacao cake, the lactic acid bacteria in the fermented carrots and fermented juice will further help break down the flour during the fermenting process. This not only makes the cake easier to digest, but also reduces the amount of honey (sugar) used and increases the flavor of the Maillard reaction.

Recipe for Fermented Carrots
Preparation: 20 minutes
Fermentation: 1 month

500g of peeled carrots + 10g of salt
4g of juniper berries
4g of black pepper
400g water + 4g of salt

1. Heat water with juniper berries & black pepper together.
2. When the water is boiling, add salt, and then remove from heat. Let the brine cool down.
3. Cut the carrots into sticks of 0,5 cm*0,5 cm*3 cm.
4. Marinate the carrots with salt for 10 minutes, then squeeze out the water with your hands.
5. Put the carrots in the brine.
6. Press the carrots under the surface of the water. Place a baking paper to cover the surface of the liquid.
7. Put the lid on and seal. Put it in a cool place and ferment for 1 month. (Winter)

Recipe for Fermented Carrot and Cocoa Cake
Preparation: 20 minutes
Fermentation: 3 hours
Cooking: 40 minutes

200 g of all-purpose flour
110 ml of Hazelnut oil (Olive oil)
70 g of Honey
20 g of cocoa powder
4 eggs
70 g of fermented carrots.
30g of fermented juice od carrots
11g of baking powder

1. Cut the fermented carrot sticks into small pieces.
2. Add eggs and honey in a bowl and whisk them well with a hand mixer.
3. Add the flour, baking powder and Hazelnut oil with the cocoa powder and mix well.
4. Add carrots and mix well with the batter.
5. Dab some olive oil on a kitchen paper towel and wipe it on the inside of the cake pan.
6. Pour the batter into the pan and refrigerate for 3 hours.
7. Preheat oven to 160°C.
8. Place the 28cm*12cm*8cm pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the pan and make a 2cm cut in the center of the dough with a knife.
9. Put the pan back in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes.
10. After baking, insert a knife into the cake and if the knife is dry, the cake is done.
11. Remove the cake from the oven and let the temperature drop before removing from the pan.

Note: The cake in this recipe is not too sweet, if you want it to be sweeter, you can increase the amount of honey to your preferred sweetness.

Michelle Chang was born in Taiwan in 1967. In 2012, she moved to France, and in 2017, opened her restaurant, La 5ème Saveur. Her cuisine is a revisitation of French cuisine through fermentation. She is also a writer and columnist for a Taiwanese health magazine. www.cheffemichellechang.com