Friday, 21 September 2012

Very Carroty Carrot Cake with Candied Carrot.

Everyone needs a good carrot cake in their repertoire...okokkkk not everyone. I’m guessing the Queen rarely gets a craving for cream cheese icing and I guess if, say, Duncan Banatyne fancied a slice he’d send out for one...probably a diamond encrusted one at that...but what I meaaaaan is that everyone that likes a spot of baking, or is the friend that is relied upon to supply treats, or is someone that just bloomin’ loves a big slice of cake...theeeey all need a good carrot cake recipe.

And this, fellow bakers and cake lovers, is that. Sorrysorrysorry but when it comes to carrot cake it’s all about MOIST. I knnoooow it’s one of the most hATEd words ever but it really is what you want from a good carrot cake. Moistmoistmoist....when you think of it in cake terms it really isn’t so bad.

The fact that this cake relies soley on carrots for this moistyness and for its bouncy structure means that it is just the right kind of moist. Not too oily and wet from the addition of oil like so many carrot cakes, and, hellllllloooo it means the cake it fat free, apart from the good healthy nut fats, so you can double up on the icing. Wooooooop.

It’s easypeasy too, especially if you don’t bother with the candied carrots on top, buuuut I must warn you...I was once told by a friend that this was the best carrot cake he had ever eaten and I that it was the candies carrots that swung it in my keep that in mind. With Love and Cake.

Carrot Cake with Candied Carrots.
From Harry Eastwood's marvelous book Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache.  

A few notes:
  • I'm afraid I really did double the quantity of icing from the original recipe, always do, and those are the measurements I shall give you. If however you are of the (craaaazy) breed of person who does not believe that basically the very point of cake if the icing and you leave it on your plate for me to polish off, not caring that you judge me, feel free to halve the quantities back down.
  • The type of nut is variable, same for the dried fruit...just keep the quantities the same.
  • I used polenta here though you could just as easily and yummily use ground almonds.
  • If you're not going in for candied carrots, a good sprinkling of lime zest wouldn't go amiss.

Makes one 18cm cake
You will need 

For the cake 
one orange
150g sultanas
80g mixed nuts, toasted under a grill until golden and roughly chopped
3 eggs
160g soft brown sugar
280g coarsely grated carrot
150g plain flour
80g polenta
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

For the icing
70g butter, at room temperature
400g icing sugar
4 tsp lime juice
70g cream cheese

For the candies carrot
1/2 medium sized carrot
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp water

  • Right first the boring jobs...preheat the oven to 160° and grease two 18cm, loose bottomed cake tines and line the bases.
  • Squeeze the juice of the orange over the sultanas and leave them to soak while you get on.
  • Whisk the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes (best with an electric hand whisk unless you want a proper work out) until light coffee coloured and increased in volume.
  • Beat in the carrot.
  • Stir in the flour, polenta, cinnamon, baking powder, vanilla and salt to gently mix.
  • Add the sultanas along with any orange juice left and the nuts.
  • Mix gently but thoroughly and divide the mixture between the 2 tins.
  • Pop in the oven and check after 45 minutes; you want the cakes to be golden and firm.
  • When they are done, leave them to cool in their tins for 5 minutes before turning them out and allowing to cool completely...and I mean completely, never attempt to ice a cake that is still a bit warm.
  • To make the icing, beat the butter so it gets really soft.
  • Add half the icing sugar and combine as much as possible; it should have the texture of breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the lime juice then add the cream cheese and remaining icing sugar
  • Beatbeatbeat until you have a lovely smooth and shiny paste.
  • Now for assembly. Pop one cake on your serving plate and spread half the icing on top.
  • Top that with the other cake and spread the rest of that lovely icing over the top.
  • If you're going in for the candied carrots, here's how it goes: shred the carrot into ribbons with a peeler.
  • Pop the sugar and water in a small frying pan and heat gently.
  • When the sugar has dissolved,add the carrots and turn up the heat a bit to get everything bubbling.
  • After a minute or 2 the liquid should be more viscous and caramel coloured and the carrots will have gone shiny and a bit translucent...there you are, you've got candies carrots.
  • Pour them daintily on top of your cake.
  • If there's much liquid left in the pan, return it, for a brief moment, to the heat and it will thicken even more.
  • Pour it over the carrots and let it drizzle over the cake (FYI clean the pan with boiling water).
  • And there you have it, a mighty fine classic that's loved by all.

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