This carrot cake with a hint of zesty freshness is ideal for Easter events; it’s a real crowd pleaser and people always ask for the recipe, so here it is!
For the sponge you will need: 400g grated carrot, 3tbsp finely chopped stem ginger, zest 1 lemon, zest 1 orange, 4 eggs, 2tsp vanilla, pinch salt, 400ml vegetable oil, 150g light brown soft sugar, 100ml buttermilk, 300g caster sugar, 550g plain flour, 3tsp baking powder, 2tsp bicarbonate of soda, 2tsp cinnamon, 2tsp ginger
Preheat the oven to 180c (fan) and line three 18cm cake tins with baking paper.
Whisk the carrot, ginger, zests, eggs, vanilla, salt, vegetable oil, light brown sugar and buttermilk in a large jug, until smooth.
Sift the caster sugar, plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour the wet egg mixture in.
Gently stir until the dry and the wet ingredients are thoroughly combined. Be sure to scrape any run away ingredients down the sides of the bowl and fully incorporate them into the mixture too.
Divide the cake mix evenly into the prepared tins. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Do not open the oven until at least 30 minutes have passed.
Leave to sit in their tins for 10 minutes once baked then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
For the cream cheese frosting, you will need: 700g icing sugar, 250g cream cheese, 85g butter, a few drops milk
Mix the icing sugar together with the butter with a hand held electric whisk until a powdery breadcrumb-like consistency is achieved.
Now gradually add the cream cheese and mix like mad until it is thick but spreadable. If you like, add the zest of one lemon for a fresh twist.
Add a little milk to alter the consistency if it’s too stiff.
Spread some cream cheese frosting on the first sponge then pop the second on top. Repeat this process and you will be left with a three layer cake sandwiched with frosting. For a professional finish, cover the entire cake with the remaining cream cheese mixture. Use a wet palette knife to smooth the icing down. Now your cake is ready for the decoration.
For the additional decoration, you will need: 200g caster sugar, 100g chopped walnuts, few hazelnuts
To achieve the neat line of chopped walnuts, wrap some baking parchment neatly around your cake, leaving 2 inches spare at the bottom. With the palm of your hand, press the walnuts into the cream cheese frosting around the circumference of the base. Remove the baking paper and use a palette knife to create vertical lines all around the remaining cream cheese covered area.
For the spirals, place the caster sugar in a deep bottom pan over a medium heat. Do NOT be tempted to stir it, just wait for it to melt and turn a golden amber colour. Don’t leave it for any longer than this or it will quickly burn. Remove from the heat and leave for a few minutes until the consistency is sticky and slightly thick. Once this consistency is achieved, lightly oil a wooden spoon handle and, with a fork, gather up some of the caramel to mould around it- this should form a spiral shape. Leave for a few moments to harden then remove from the spoon carefully and place around the edges of the cake (as in the above photograph).
If the caramel hardens too much just return to the heat briefly to soften again.
Dip the hazelnuts in any left over caramel and pile in the centre of the cake.
If you don’t feel like attempting the sugar work, just scatter nuts over the top or buy some carrot shaped cake toppers!