Carrot Cake is one of those cakes where for me the ingredients miraculously bind together, taste terrible in the bowl (who doesn’t lick the bowl!) and make a wonderful tasting cake after they’re baked. Obviously, this is the joy of baking, but for years, Carrot Cake was something other people baked and I did not. I have very fond memories of slabs of carrot cake, thick with cream cheese icing and juicy with lots of carrot and pineapple (apparently this is an Australian thing!), being sold up the street at a fantastic food place whose owners were actually German. They made the best dark rye bread I’ve ever had the pleasure to taste (thick with sesame seeds on the outside and almost black in colour), an amazing black forest ham, and this carrot cake. Since then, and I’m talking up to 20 years ago now I guess, ever carrot cake has just paled in comparison. I’ve eaten some good ones, but that delicious moist cake remains vivid in my memory as the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten.
I first made carrot cake for my birthday back in 2007 (around the time I started this blog), and it was a partial disaster! It was a sheet cake and unbeknown to me, the oven in our flat actually sloped forward, and I ended up with a cake that was thin at one end, thick and the other, with half of it burned on the floor of the oven. It tasted pretty good, but wow – disaster. Definitely a LizziebeeFail! I was a bit horrified at the amount of oil and eggs in the cake, and thought I’d give it another go later. Which didn’t happen.
In January, the lovely Afeitar posted a carrot cake that she made for her boyfriend’s birthday, taken from the Hummingbird Bakery recipe, and I thought the time has come: carrot cake is my partner’s favourite cake, and I decided to make it for his birthday this year.
And it’s a good cake!
I had to substitute a few things, just because I didn’t have them in my pantry when I started to put the cake together: like a blended vegetable oil (mostly canola with a little soyabean) instead of the Sunflower called for, and I had no cinnamon, so I upped the ginger and popped in some nutmeg.
The cake itself is also huge. *laugh* There is only two of us, and there is a LOT of cake to eat! I have a feeling that I’ll be taking cake to work to share with everyone @ the bakery.
Carrot Cake (as per Hummingbird Bakery, via Afeitar)
300gm soft light brown sugar
300ml sunflower oil
300gm plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarb
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g carrots, grated
100g shelled walnuts, chopped, plus extra whole to decorate
Preheat the oven to 170c
Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until all ingredients are well incorporated, slowly add the flour, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed. (If you don’t have either a freestanding mixer or a handheld, you can do what I did and just mix it by hand.) Stir in the grated carrots and walnuts by hand.
For goodness sake, split the mix into two tins. I didn’t, and my cake took about 75 minutes to bake, and it’s a BIG cake. If you split it into two sheet cake tins, you can freeze an entire cake for later, or feed a lot of people. If you pop it into two bigger circle tins (and I’m thinking 10″ or more), you can make a double layered tin. Split into two, your cake should take around 35-40 mins to bake. Check it at 35: if it’s still wobbly, you’re looking at another 10-15 minutes.
Take out when a skewer inserted comes out clean and cake is dark golden. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, and then turn out to cool.
500g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter at room temp.
1750g cream cheese, cold
Beat the butter and 100gms of the icing sugar together by hand, or in a mixer, to start to incorporate the mix. Add half of the cream cheese and beat mixture in the mixer, or start to use a handheld mixer. Slowly add half of the icing sugar left (to make sure it doesn’t redecorate your kitchen in white), then the rest of the cream cheese, and finally the final icing sugar that remains. Beat until pale in colour and fluffy. You don’t want a heavy cream cheese icing.
Spread over the cake thickly and evenly. If you’ve got two halves, you will have enough to cover the top, middle & sides. If you have one BIG cake, you will have frosting left over. (Like I do!) I would suggest halving the mix, or at least cutting it down.
Sprinkle some walnuts over the top for a special look.