Carrot Cake

 

This volume of cake can make a large, tall classic carrot cake (9” or 23cm tin), or a mountain (24) of cupcakes.  Sometimes I bake it in a tray bake and cut it into squares if making it for a party and don’t want to do the ubiquitous cupcake style.

350g plain flour

380 caster sugar (use half golden if you have it)

2 1/2  tsp baking powder

3 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg (ideally fresh)

1 1/2 tsp allspice

300ml sunflower oil

6 eggs

400g grated peeled grated carrot

100g finely chopped pecans (plus 12 halves for decorating)

100g finely chopped walnut

250g plump raisins or combination of raisins and sultanas

frosting

20 perfect pecan halves for decoration

100g soft salted butter

600g icing sugar

250 cold full fat cream cheese

Method

You don’t need a mixer for this cake, in fact you should do it entirely by hand (except, that is, for the frosting).

Preheat the oven to 160C.

Grease and line a 9” or 23 cm round cake tin.  If using one that does not have a removable bottom, be sure to put two pieces of paper under the bottom circular disk that go down one side and up the other, enabling you to lift the cake out when cool.

Combine all the first six dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together to ensure they are perfectly combined and aerated.  Combine the eggs and oil in a separate bowl and whisk together until light and frothy.  Combine the grated carrot, raisins and nuts in a further separate bowl and mix well.  Add the egg and oil mixture to the powdered ingredients and stir together until a uniform batter is formed.  Make sure there are no pockets of dry mix stuck at the bottom of bowl. 

When totally combined (make sure not to over-mix) stir in the carrot, fruit and nuts.  Again, make sure that they are stirred in well and that the fruits are evenly distributed and well combined with the batter.  Pour into the cake tin (I always put a little of the mixture into a cupcake case to bake just for me, especially if giving the whole cake away – such a shame not to taste all the hard work).  Place in the middle of the oven and bake for about an hour and 15 minutes.  If your oven runs hot be sure to place an oven tray at the top to help prevent the cake from browning, and do not be tempted to open the oven door during baking – it will collapse in the middle.  It can take up to an hour and 45 minutes if your tin is very deep, so make sure you leave plenty of time for it to bake, cool and ice if you are needing to use it at a specific time!  Remove when firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean when inserted deep into the centre of the cake.

While the cake is baking, make the frosting.  Place the icing sugar and soft butter in a very large bowl if you are using a handheld mixer, or put into your stand mixer bowl.  At slow speed combine the two ingredients until they resemble sand.  Then tip in all the cream cheese and beat together until light and fluffy – for about three minutes.  Take care not to overbeat as it will turn runny and you will have to start again.

Make sure you hang onto a few perfect pecans for the top

When completely cool, turn the cake out and cut with a very large, very sharp knife, horizontally (you can do this twice as shown in the picture if you are brave).  Fill the centre with a large dollop of the frosting, taking care that you don’t spread it right to the edges (when you put the top half on the weight of the cake will push the filling to the edge).  Top with the rest of the frosting, using the back of the spoon to make rustic waves, and finish with pecan halves denoting the portions.

Serve with a cup of tea at four o’clock.

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