carrot cake

Carrot, Apple and Walnut Loaf with Maple Icing

Looking at the photographs of this cake, you could be fooled into thinking it’s mid Autumn and the trees are turning. They’re not, but given the weather here in the UK (it’s pretty miserable; grey skies and that fluffy rain which get’s you far more wet than you’d think) it might as well be. With this in mind I thought I’d bake something spiced, nutty, simple and comforting to combat the bad weather blues: enter this moist carrot and apple loaf cake laced with cinnamon, ginger and walnuts topped with maple cream cheese frosting…

Ingredients:

  • 225ml vegetable oil
  • 225g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 125g grated carrot
  • 125g grated apple
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp ginger
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 100g chopped walnuts
  • zest 1 lemon

For the icing;

  • 5tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 heaped tbsp icing sugar
  • 250g cream cheese (full fat)
  • 100ml double cream

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a large loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Place the oil, sugar and eggs in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and, using electric beaters, beat together until voluminous and well combined. Now add the grated carrot and apple and briefly beat again to evenly distribute.
  3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt over the wet ingredients and beat in until just combined. Lastly, fold in the walnuts and lemon zest. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Cool in the tin.
  4. While the cake is cooling, make the maple cream cheese icing. Simply whisk together all the ingredients until thick and spreadable.
  5. Once the cake is completely cool, top with the cream cheese icing and some walnuts, edible flowers or apple crisps, if you’re feeling fancy.

Enjoy!

Carrot Cake with Pecan Brittle

This cake is a straight forward throw-it-all-in, mix, bake and frost situation (but tastes uh-mazing). The pecan brittle is optional but I think the nutty crunch and slightly bitter caramel really adds to the spiced sponge and tangy cream cheese frosting- definitely a winner!

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Ingredients:

  • 225ml vegetable oil
  • 225g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g grated carrot
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp ginger
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2tsp mixed spice
  • 75g chopped pecans
  • For the brittle: 100g caster sugar, 100g pecans, pinch salt
  • For the frosting: 80g butter, 250g full fat cream cheese, 400g icing sugar, zest 1 lemon

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a square brownie tray (about 22x22cm).
  2. Place the oil, sugar, eggs and grated carrot in a large mixing bowl and briefly whisk to combine. Now sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt and mixed spice and beat together with a wooden spoon until smooth. Fold in the pecans.
  3. Tip this mixture into the square tin and bake for 25-35 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  4. While the cake is cooking, make the brittle. To do this simply place the pecans and sugar in a  heavy bottom pan and gently heat until the sugar melts (don’t stir but swirl the pan occasionally). Once the sugar has melted allow it to reach deep golden brown then pour onto a piece of greaseproof paper and allow to set hard and cool.
  5. Once your cake is cooked and cooling on a rack (in the tin), make the frosting. Beat the butter until smooth then add the cream cheese and whisk until combined. Gradually pour in the icing sugar and continue to whisk for a few minutes- you should achieve light smooth consistency. Stir in the lemon zest last.
  6. Turn the cake out of the tin once it’s cooled and level off if necessary. Spread a generous layer of the cream cheese frosting all over then break up the brittle and sprinkle on.
  7. Slice up and serve (and try to resist coming back for a second piece).

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Easter Layer Cake

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!

CARROT CAKE

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.

CARROT CAKE 2

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!

Enjoy!

Carrot and Ginger Loaf Cake

This loaf cake is really light and zingy; I developed the recipe as a bit of a change from all the heavy fruit cakes and chocolatey bakes we’ve been eating over Christmas (not that this is health food by any means!). Try it out- it’s really easy to make but still looks impressive!DSCN9200

To make the cake, you will need: 200g grated carrot, 4 pieces stem ginger (grated), 2 eggs, 200ml vegetable oil, 150g caster sugar, 50g light brown soft sugar, 250g plain flour, 2tsp baking powder, pinch salt, 1tsp cinnamon, 1tsp mixed spice, 1tsp ground ginger, zest 1 lemon, 2tbsp greek yogurt.

Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a loaf tin.

Whisk together the eggs, oil, light brown sugar, salt and lemon zest in a jug.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the caster sugar, plain flour, baking powder and spices. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg mixture. Using a wooden spoon, beat the wet into the dry until fully incorporated and smooth.

Add the greek yoghurt and stir thoroughly to loosen the consistency. Add the grated carrot and ginger and mix in.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 30-35 minutes.

When the cake is golden brown (or a skewer comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached) it is ready. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then remove from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting and decoration, you will need: juice 1 lemon, 250g cream cheese, 1tbsp icing sugar, zest 1 lemon, crystallised ginger, lime zest.

While the cake is cooling, pierce lots of holes in the surface. Pour the lemon juice over so it seeps through the holes. Set aside.

In a small bowl beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and lemon zest. Spread over the top of the cake (it must be cool to do this) and sprinkle chopped ginger and lime zest down the centre.

Slice up and serve (this cake is even better after a couple of days- if it lasts that long!).

Enjoy!

50th Birthday Cake

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When I embarked on making this cake I was skeptical about whether or not my ambitious idea of two different cakes baked with varied frostings, flavourings and colours adorned with hand made chocolate roses would materialise… I had images of wilting roses, mutant shapes and dry sponges on my (forever anxious) mind during baking, so I am relieved with the actual result.

The ‘5’ shaped cake is a rich chocolate sponge filled with milk chocolate ganache and iced with dark chocolate ganache. The ‘0’ is made up of a nutty carrot cake which is filled and covered with cream cheese frosting. Both cakes are decorated with hand made roses- on the ‘5’ with white chocolate roses and on the ‘0’ with milk chocolate. Having never used molding chocolate before I would certainly recommend it- I prefer it to sugar paste as I find the results a bit more modern and less ‘old-fashioned-wedding-cake’.

Now comes the challenge of transportation… my least favourite part of baking for parties! A heart-in-mouth journey awaits…