|A good looking carrot cake|
A particular favourite is Carrot Cake, I simply adore a whacking great chunk of the not so healthy as it sounds carrot cake, which disappointingly can't be counted as one of your 5 a-day fruit & veg intake either.
However, there can be so much variance between one carrot cake to the next it's always a gamble when ordering carrot cake in new Cafe. So to help you all, I very altruistically tasked myself to find the best carrot cakes of Dubai and report back.......please no medals.
Some carrot cake history
Carrot cake has interesting origins dating way back to the Middle Ages when refined sugar and imported dried fruit were rare and expensive, so poor folk used carrots as an alternative sweetener. It then became fashionable again during the second world war when war time rationing made sugar and fruits become rare again, however there was a surplus of carrots!
|War time poster|
All carrot cakes are not created equal and I have a very specific criteria about the correct combination of components that make up a perfect carrot cake, a great article exploring this further and comparing different recipes can be found in here.
My prefect carrot cake criteria:
- Must include large soft sultanas - not spiteful little raisins
- Must include walnuts - not pecans, pine nuts or any other type of nuts and not too many either
- A musky, soft spiced cinnamon crossed with mild ginger flavour
- A moist, firm texture with rich dark colour - I don't trust a pale carrot cake
- Fleck's of actual carrot you can see
- Must have cream cheese frosting - sounds obvious but I have heard tell of Carrot cakes with no frosting?!....the point of which I can not comprehend.
- Multiple layers of frosting not just on the top
- Extra points awarded for a little marzipan carrot decoration!
The measure used is my own stars system whereby the maximum is 5 stars *****, which equals a perfect carrot cake!
Rich - MOE *1 Star
The cakes were shown off in a beautiful glass fount counter and looked amazing.
However the size of the carrot cake is frankly scary and I'm not one to pass up a generous serving of cake but this slice was gargantuan, too big in fact.
The texture was dry and the flavour bland and often felt like chewing a mouthful of wood chip just to get through it. The frosting to cake ratio was uneven but again that was likely due to the enormousness of the cake.
Wouldn't recommend this carrot cake, which is a shame as really liked the place and everything else we ordered was yum! I have since tried their red velvet cup cakes and they are amaze-a-balls so don't let the disappointing carrot cake put you off.
Hey Sugar - 3.5 stars ***/*
I'm a bit of a traditionalist and wasn't convinced carrot cake could successfully make the transition to cupcake, but my reservations we offset by this little delight.
On balance this is a pretty, generously frosted cupcake underpinned by a lovely moist carrot cake, with lots of real carrot flecks.It also had a little frosting carrot topper, super cute!
The only downside for me was the light cake colour and the frosting was a little on the runny side not as firm as I would have liked, but a decent and enjoyable afternoon tea scooby snack nonetheless.
Costa Coffee - 2.5 Star***
A pretty average coffee chain carrot cake which is either improved or made worse depending on the day and the level of freshness.
On a good day the cake is fairly moist another day having sat on the cabinet a wee while to long it was dry and stiff around the edges. The frosting is decent enough and the size of slice was just right, the cake features walnuts and bits of carrot and a nice touch was the nut crust, but unfortunately not to my taste, made it over kill on the nut front for me.
There's just nothing particularly remarkable about this cake...it's just a bit Meh!
Lime Tree Cafe - **** 4 stars
I'd heard tell that Lime Tree offer the best carrot cake in Dubai and with a reputation like that this cake had a lot to live upto.
The slice is on the large side, it's a whole lunch on it's own! However, as it's moist and not not sweet so it's actually doable.
The cake has good combination of key ingredients apart from sultanas which were absent.
The colour is dark and the flavour is spicy and well balanced with little flecks of carrot throughout.
The frosting is dreamy - perfectly sweet, cream cheesy texture but could have done with another layer or the inner layer being a bit fatter to balance the cake to frosting ratio.
This cake is decorated with a little fruit which bares an unfortunate name that I always confuse with a rather nasty STD - the fruit being Physalis the other being Syphilis! I'd much prefer a marzipan carrot.
I do like the detail of a little sprinkle of icing sugar on the cake and plate though when served, class.
There is no denying this is a very good carrot cake, however is it worthy of the title 'The best carrot cake in Dubai' ...erm no, close but no cigar.
The American Hospital, post natal menu - * 1 Star
And you know what, aside from the awful cling film squashed presentation it wasn't that bad, better in fact than some I've had in restaurants and cafes see below!
Gloria Jean's - Mardif city mall, Minus - 1 * Star
What a strange tragic place Gloria's is, I can't see exactly what there UPS is but it ain't the carrot cake that's for sure!
Gloria's is like a really bad rip of Starbucks to the point of ridiculous, why do all coffee shops now all look like mahogany Starbucks clones??
I don't get why people start a coffee shop that's a bad version of the world's leading coffee shop. How are they differentiating themselves from the market leader?
At the very least they should've got some new interiors designers - if you look at Starbucks, Costa, Nero, Caribou and the likes of Gloria's they are all the same pretty much. Please note coffee chains: We consumers are so very board of that tried 90's Central Perk format.
|Note the sweaty marzipan carrot atop ack!|
The actual cake wasn't to bad it was fairly moist and tasty with a liberal spattering of walnuts, it was missing the vital sultanas ingredient however. The size was on the small side but it was the frosting that made this carrot cake just awful.
Firstly, it only had one layer on the top yet I could have forgiven that. But secondly and worst is that I don't know what the frosting was!
I'm not even sure it was frosting, it was like a cross between a tasteless synthetic cheese cake and congealed blancmange. It was vile. And had obvs been sitting in the counter far too long as the marzipan decoration was.....wait for it - SWEATY!!...vomsville.
Worst still is even though we were sitting inside we got our coffee served in paper cups and the cake was on a polystyrene plate with plastic fork?!! This infuriates me two fold as;
a) it's really bad for the environment and b) it soooooooo very uncuoth!!!
Won't be seeing you again Gloria Jean!
Caribou Coffee - Ibn Tutta Mall, ***/* 3.5 stars
It was a light, moist flavoursome cake with a scrummy cream cheese frosting that was ideally proportioned. The pièce de résistance was lots of lovely juicy sultanas and a precise scatter of walnuts, all in all a thoroughly good carrot cake!
The only down side was again like Gloria Jean that even though we were sitting in, the cake and coffee got served up in a paper cup and a polystyrene plate and plastic fork...it flattens the entire the experience for me I'm afraid so I've had to deduct half a star.
Coffee Bean MOE - * 1 Star
This cake was compact and moist, offering good nuttiness but had no sultanas.
The ratio of cake to frosting was good, three layers in total of the right thickness. However, it was let down by the frosting being rather flavourless and synthetic.
This was not an exactly an offensive cake, it was a moderate effort but terribly bland and just wasn't interesting enough to warrant the calories!
Starbucks - Big Spinney's, Al Wasal Rd *** 3 stars
Starbucks seem to have made a big improvement in their food selections over the last year or so. Likely responding to competition by trying to move more towards an artisan feel for food, rather than Mac-starbucks which is where they where heading previously.
Decent enough cake this, firm texture, a tad on the dry side though and not especially generous on the fruit, nut or carrot fleck front.
However, the frosting was yummy and I particularly like that you got 4 layers of frosting nicely distributed throughout the cake which resulted in even fork fulls of cake and frosting. Indeed this was the only cake that gave 4 layers of frosting and I likely!!
The Ritz Carlton, Abu Dhabi, 0* Zero stars
Neither the cake nor frosting tasted of anything at all and the cake was so dry it felt like I was chewing on a bath sponge! The carrot cake I had at the American hospital was much, much better, The Ritz should be ashamed!
Sophie's Cafe - Shoreline #8, The Palm ****/* 4.5 stars
Tucked away in the basement car park as part of the RIVA Beach club is Sophie's. It's a welcome addition for locals as it's convenient serving great healthy salads and fresh juices plus a selection of home-made artisan cakes and cookies.
It is a little on the expensive side though and it's an odd little location for such a nice café, but the food is really good quality and portions are generous.
The carrot is delicious, nearly everything I want from a carrot cake.
Luscious moist texture, lots of lovely walnuts and sultanas I'd even say they might add some other kind of dried fruit, I'm not sure but it works.
It has a delicate, yet confident mix of flavours with each mouthful offering something different from smoky cinnamon |& ginger to a gorgeous subtle whaft of citrus.
The frosting is just sweet enough, just cream cheesy enough and soft yet firm enough and the ratio balanced well to the cake proportions.
I also loved that it feels very home made with wonky edges. Plus it's presented in glass cloche arranged on a table amongst the other cakes on staggered wooden plinths so the customer can get right up to the cake before you choose it, as opposed to having it behind the counter - nice touch I love.
|Flecks of carrot|
Yes this is my favourite carrot cake in Dubai so far, it even bested the legendary Lime Tree one.
However, my search will continue or I supposed what I should do is make a carrot cake myself, maybe then I could award myself the crown of "Best carrot cake in Dubai!"....watch this space.