One of my all time favourite tea time treats is a big slice of carrot cake, maybe with a pot of English breakfast from Map Cafe, or even (guilty secret alert) a mini loaf grab-and-go from Pret. Well, they are ridiculously moist.
The use of carrots in puddings dates back to medieval times when sweeteners were rare, growing in popularity here during WWII. Carrots have more sugar than any other vegetable, apart from the aptly named sugar beet.
I have tried many different recipes, and this one is by far my favourite. Not only do these cakes combine juicy fruit with tangy frosting, they look so cute. Plus they’re easier to store without having to cut and fiddle about.
This is a recipe adapted from different sources, including the BBC Good Food website (my online cooking bible) and many a cookbook strewn around my apartment. You can substitute half the self raising flour for wholemeal to give a slightly heavier cake, but I prefer a lighter mix, especially with all the textures involved.
FOR THE CAKE
zest and juice of 1 orange
150ml sunflower oil
2 free range eggs
140g soft light brown sugar
170g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
140g carrots , coarsely grated
50g chopped walnuts
FOR THE ICING
200g soft cheese
50g softened butter
85g sifted icing sugar
pinch ground cinnamon
This recipe is enough for either one (greased or lined) loaf tin or 12 mini loaf cases. Pre heat the oven to 180oc / 160oc fan / gas 4
1) Pop the sultanas, orange zest and juice into a microwave bowl and microwave on medium for 1-2 minutes (alternatively you can soak the ingredients together overnight)
2) Mix together the flour, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl.
3) Whisk together the oil and eggs, add the orange mix, grated carrot and walnuts. Add the this to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
4) Tip the mix into your loaf tin or decide between your mini loaf cases. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40/60 minutes (until a cake skewer comes out clean) allow the cakes to cool completely before icing.
5) To make the icing, simply beat together the butter, icing sugar, cream cheese and cinnamon (make sure the butter is soft enough to avoid unsightly lumps), spread evenly over the cakes and serve.
I make my cakes the day before to allow the flavour to develop. Ice them before to allow the icing to set.
I sprinkled a little cinnamon on the tops of mine, but you can leave them plain or decorate with chopped nuts, candied orange peel or even fondant icing carrots.
Words & Pics: Czaralee Anderson