As Spring approaches, it brings with it some of the best treats. Easter is possibly my favourite time to get busy in the kitchen; hot cross buns, Easter biscuits, anything with mini eggs and for me, this carrot cake. I haven’t shared it before now, as, in the past, I’ve always shared my experiments in the kitchen and ignored the staples of baking. So, as time is a rarity nowadays, I have decided to go back to basics and revisit some forgotten old recipes, that are brilliant and in need of revival.
A few years ago a friend from work asked me to make him a carrot cake, as it was his absolute favourite. I’d never had carrot cake prior to him asking me for one, so I asked him what he liked from a carrot cake. Not too sweet, crunchy and with a fabulous cream cheese icing he said. I pulled out all my cookbooks and made an amalgamation from all the recipes, to suit what he wanted. So this carrot cake is a bit of a mix and match from some classic recipes, to suit my friend’s tastes.
As it turns out, his idea of a carrot cake is pretty damn delicious.
The biggest hardship of this cake is grating the carrots, a job that I despise. So I just stick on one of my favourite songs and get it over and done with. Once that’s prepped and ready to go, this cake is simple to put together, wet ingredients get mixed into dry. If you don’t have wholemeal flour you can use plain instead, it just gives the cake a bit more of an earthy flavour. Also, I must say do use full-fat cream cheese for the icing. Low fat is too watery and will not thicken up.
- 85g wholemeal flour
- 85g self-raising flour
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2tsp ground nutmeg
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2tsp salt
- 170g soft light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 125ml sunflower oil
- 170g grated carrot (about 2 medium-sized carrots)
- 55g walnuts, chopped into smaller pieces (plus extra to decorate)
For the Cream Cheese Icing :
- 200g full fat cream cheese
- 125g butter
- 250g icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180oc and grease and line two 20cm sandwich tins
- Sift the flours, spices, bicarbonate of soda and salt together and then stir in the sugar
- Combine the oil with the two eggs then whisk briefly
- Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk well until incorporated
- Fold in the grated carrots and the walnuts then pour into the tins and place in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean
- To make the cream cheese icing, add the butter to a freestanding electric mixer (or use a hand whisk) and beat for about 5 minutes
- Add the cream cheese and beat again for a further 3 minutes
- Add the icing sugar in two stages along and beat for a further 3-4 minutes. You should end up with a gloriously pale and thick icing
- Once the cakes are cool sandwich them together with the icing and also spread some icing on top. Decorate with crushed walnuts.
– To keep dairy free, swap the cream cheese for a dairy-free alternative (Holland & Barret do a great alternative) and also swap the butter for a dairy-free butter such as Flora Dairy-Free.