It was R’s birthday at work this week and I promised to bake her the cake of her choice and she asked for carrot cake. I was thrilled by this as by is probably my all time favourite cake. The recipe I use originally comes from an Australian Women’s Weekly magazine and I have tweaked it over the years to produce what I now think of as my perfect carrot cake. I love its moist spiced crumb, dotted with juicy raisins and the odd nugget of chopped pecan nut which are scattered throughout. Topped off with cream cheese icing it becomes a truly marvelous cake.
People often pair orange flavoured icing with carrot cake but, I much prefer lemon as I think it gives a sharper cleaner finish. However, the birthday girl requested a cinnamon icing, which is equally good as it helps enhance the spices within the cake. It’s not the most photogenic of cakes but the flavour more than makes up for it. I added a few pink royal icing flowers on top as pink is her favourite colour. The birthday girl was more than happy with her cake.
I have included the recipe for both lemon and cinnamon icing below, so you can use which one most appeals. And, if you must have orange icing, simply substitute orange in the lemon icing method.
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
250ml vegetable oil
250g light soft brown sugar
500g (3-4) grated carrots
120g walnuts or pecans
375g self raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp cinnamon
Grease and line the base of a 20cm 8inch springform cake tin. Preheat the oven 180C.
Place the oil, sugar and eggs into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until thick and creamy.
Peel and roughly grate the carrots and chop the nuts into large chunks. Fold the nuts, raisins and grated carrot into the cake batter.
Sift over the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda and fold into the mixture using a spatula, turning the bowl as you go until no flour streaks remain, but do not overwork. (The moisture from the carrots will help slacken the mixture).
Spread the batter evenly into the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes, then cover loosely with foil and bake for a further 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 15 minutes before un-moulding and cooling on a wire wrack before icing. Store in the fridge until required.
For the cinnamon icing
150g cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp extra cinnamon
140g icing sugar
Using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together in a bowl until smooth.
Beat in the vanilla and the 1½ tsp of cinnamon. Gradually sieve and beat in the icing sugar until it’s all combined.
Spread thickly over the cooled cake. Dust the remaining cinnamon over the top of the cake using a sieve and decorate with sugar flowers or extra whole or chopped nuts if desired.
For the lemon icing
100g cream cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
240g icing sugar
Using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese and lemon zest in a bowl until smooth.
Beat in the lemon juice and gradually sift and beat in the icing sugar until its all combined.
Spread thickly over the cooled cake. Decorate the top with sugar flowers or extra whole or chopped nuts if desired.
Eat and enjoy.
Two workshops in Paris, June 2017
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