I've been making carrot cake for a long time now. I never used to like it until I met Scott, and he told me it was his favourite cake. I think it was the thought of carrots in cake that just made me feel a bit funny. I've also become a huge fan of cinnamon and spiced cakes as I've got older, making carrot cake even more appealing. So I've made plenty of carrot cakes in the past 3 years and I've tried many different recipes. For a while, Rachel Allen's recipe was a strong favourite (using an orange buttercream instead of her cream cheese icing). Then, of course, I tried the Hummingbird Bakery recipe and have never turned back. It is so easy. It was Scott's birthday on Tuesday and when asked what cake he wanted, he replied 'carrot cake'. No surprises there! I used the hummingbird recipe, including their recipe for cream cheese frosting, but added a bit of orange zest upon Scott's request.
300gs soft light brown sugar
300ml sunflower oil
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarb
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra to decorate
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 gas mark 3, 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 (don't worry if the mixture looks slightly split) slowly add the flour, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed.
Stir in the grated carrots and walnuts by hand, until they are evenly dispersed.
Pour the mixture into 2 or 3 prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife. bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes (for 3 cake tins) or about 30-40 minutes for 2 cake tins (or until golden brown and sponge bounces back)
Leave to cool slightly in the tins before turning out.
600g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter at room temp.
250g cream cheese, cold
Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium high speed. continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.
Ice the cake with the frosting and decorate with the whole walnuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
^this is from when I did it using 2 cake tins
I actually recommend just using 2 cake tins after trying it both ways. The cooking times are slightly longer and you need to be careful the outside of the cake does not burn, but it is a lot easier for icing and layering. For Scott's birthday, the cake came out a bit wonky! It added character but for a more professional finish I would either get dowel rods to support the layers, or just do 2 layers.