Inspired by some pretty good carrot cakes found in local cafes, I recently set out to see if I could cook one up myself. After several attempts, I finally settled on the following recipe. It’s easy to make and produces a lovely dark, moist, delicious cake.
NOTE: The following quantities are for a 20.5 cm diameter cake tin. The base area of this tin is 330 square cm. If you are using a different size tin, work out the base area of your tin (3.1 times the radius squared) and divide it by 330, then multiply the recipe quantities by this factor.
- 250 mL (230 g) bland vegetable oil (I use rice bran oil)
- 3 free range eggs
- 100 g dark muscavado sugar or regular brown sugar
- 100 g molasses sugar (an unrefined dark, almost black, sugar)
- 340-360 g of grated carrot (the quantity of carrot is important as it determines how moist the cake will be)
- 300g plain white flour (I use stone-ground white flour. You could probably also use a mixture of plain and wholemeal)
- 2 tsp baking power
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3 tsp mixed spice
- A big handful of roughly chopped walnuts, and a similar quantity of chopped dried apricots
Lemon cream cheese icing:
- 30 g butter
- 80 g cream cheese
- 1 tsp grated lemon rind
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 240 g icing sugar
Preheat your oven to 190°C (I don’t use the fan). Prepare your cake tin by lining the bottom with baking paper. With my springform tin, I simply sit a square of paper on the base, then clamp the side over the base and trim the paper around the base.
Beat the oil, sugars and eggs in a mixing bowl until creamy. Don’t worry if there are little lumps of the sticky molasses sugar still present, it adds to the character of the cake. Throw in the grated carrot, nuts and apricots and mix. Add the flour and other dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. You will end up with quite a sloppy mixture.
Pour the mixture into you cake tin. Because my cake tin is black, I like to cover the bottom and sides of the tin with aluminium foil to prevent over cooking these areas. Place the tin into the oven and cook for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, place another piece of foil over the top of the cake to prevent the top from drying out. Continue cooking until a knife inserted into the middle of the cake has no uncooked mixture adhering to it when withdrawn. In my oven at 190°C without fan, this takes another 40 minutes, but begin checking after about 30 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then remove the cake from the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Make the icing by placing the butter and cream cheese into a metal bowl and heating over hot water until the butter melts. Beat this mixture into a fluffy paste. Mix in the rind and lemon juice and then add the icing sugar and mix to a thick paste. Spread over the top of the cake. If you want to get all fancy, sprinkle some pumpkin seeds and more chopped dried apricots over the icing. Enjoy.