When it comes to ombre in cakes, the effect is attained by either coloring the cake layers or buttercream / fondant which have been tinted in tones of increasing intensity of a shade of color. The style may be applied as piped dots, swirled roses, frilly ruffles, petals, or a smooth smear. There is no right or wrong way to ombre as long as the final result is that of gradual shading. That is the beauty and flexibility of this artform – a perfectly imperfect artform.
It just so happened that Father’s Day was just around the corner, which presented the perfect opportunity to practice some prettiness. I had no qualms over the choice of cake – carrot cake – which is his favorite (a loyal fan of Cedele’s one). To match the carrot theme, I decided on an orange ombre based on the basic cashew cream frosting, which was to be dyed with increasing amounts of carrot juice. There was one major problem I faced with the frosting. The darker colored frosting came out really wet due to increasing amounts of carrot juice. I had underestimated the amount of juice/puree needed to effect a small change in color. As a result, it was slightly more challenging to pipe and required repeated rounds of returning to the freezer so that it would not drip. I was ambitious and intended to do swirled roses, but alas, gravity got the better of the battle and I settled for a smooth smear. It was so fun to make a three-tiered carrot cake for the insides. Now I understand the hype of cake making and decorating – the taller the better!
On a side note, I am really digging home interiors decked out in ombre too! It gives an ethereal feel, especially when in blue. You can find me on Pinterest too where I’m pinning actively all my lovely favorite finds.
- 2¼ cups carrot (about 2 carrots), finely grated and squeezed really dry, saving the carrot juice
- 2 cups pecans, ground in a food processor
- ¼ cup raisins, roughly chopped
- 1 cup dates, soaked and skins removed if preferred (I used rabee dates)
- ½ cup grapefruit juice
- ½ teaspoon grapefruit zest
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup dessicated coconut
- 1½ cup cashew nuts, soaked at least 4 hours or overnight
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- First make a date paste by grinding 1 cup soft dates and ½ cup grapefruit juice in a food processor until smooth.
- Thoroughly mix all ingredients for the cake together in a large bowl.
- Shape into individual mini cakes using a 4-inch springform, It should yield 3 mini cakes. Place the cakes into the freezer to set. If you are poor and only have one springform pan, unmold each cake and place it on a plate to freeze and reuse the pan to shape and next two cakes. You can also press into one large cake if not decorating an ombre.
- While the cakes are setting, make the cashew frosting. Blend all ingredients for the frosting in a food processor until very smooth and creamy, about 10 minutes. Remove one-quarter of the portion into a bowl and set aside. To the remaining portion in the food processor, add in about ½ cup carrot juice. Blend until well-mixed. There should be a noticeable difference in color between the natural frosting and the dyed one. If not, gradually add more carrot juice. Scrap out one-third into a second bowl. Repeat this process two more times so you have one natural cream-colored frosting and three orange-colored frosting in ombre.
- Freeze the frosting for about 45 minutes until stiff.
- Starting with the darkest shade of orange, pipe frosting onto the bottom third of the cake. Then, with the second darkest shade, pipe frosting onto the second bottom third of the cake. Finish the top third of the cake with the third darkest share and continue to the top of the cake with with the uncolored frosting.
- With an offset spatula or hemming ruler, smooth the frosting out into an even layer, trying not to mix the colors together. Smooth out the top of the cake until you have nice straight edges on the top. If you're out of resources like me, you can also use a palette knife.
- For the finishing touch, I attempted a carrot rose carving (which failed), and then resorted to an easier alternative of 2D carrot cut-outs. Feel free to decorate the tops as you wish, such as party flags.
- Place in the freezer. Remove about 10 minutes before serving.
The raw carrot cake is adapted from Russell James. The grapefruit juice and zest adds a desirable citrus counterpoint to the warm spices. You can also try lemon juice or orange juice.