I have tried many, many carrot cakes in my time, but this one is my favourite by far. So good is it that I'm planning to have a slice after I've written this post with a cup of coffee!! I was planning to bake two of these for my children's teachers for the end of the school year as a thank you, but I was over ruled and instead they opted for a chocolate cake, anyway I still think that this would be a beautiful gift for someone special and it's well worth the effort.
Recipe complements of Cake Decorating Magazine Issue 2
Serves 8 -10
225g Butter, softened
225g Light brown sugar
4 Eggs, medium
1 Orange, juice and grated zest
175g Wholemeal flour
2tsp Baking powder
1 Pinch of salt
2tsp Ground cinnamon
1tsp Mixed spice
50g Ground almonds
110g Walnuts, chopped (You can substitute the walnuts with dessicated coconut or raisins)
350g Carrots, finely grated
Cream Cheese Frosting
125g Unsalted butter, softened
50g Icing sugar
250g Cream cheese, at room temperature
Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 4/180C/350F and grease and line a 20cm (8in) round cake tin (I sometimes use two sandwich tins instead) . Beat the butter and sugar together in a (large) mixing bowl until light and creamy.
Separate the eggs and bead the egg yoke into the mixture, then stir in the orange juice and zest.
Sift in the dry ingredients- the flour, baking powder, salt and spices - and fold into the mixture. add the ground almonds and chopped walnuts, (or whatever you choose) and gently stir. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff and then fold into the mixture.
Stir in the grated carrots until everything is mixed together, then spoon into the cake tin.
Hollow the mixture in the centre a little and bake for 75 to 90 minutes (60 -70 minutes if you use the two sandwich tins) until the cake is golden and firm to the touch (skewer comes out clean). Cool in the tin for a few minutes, then place on a wire rack.
To make the cream cheese frosting, beat together the butter and the icing sugar until mixed well, then mix in the cream cheese. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes, then spread it generously on the cake. I split the cake so as to have frosting sandwiched between the layers, but that is optional.
To make the mini carrot toppers, colour some marzipan with a dab of red or orange food colouring. Knead it in well and separate into 10 balls. Roll each ball into a sausage shape and pinch at one end to make a carrot shape.
Score lines across each carrot with a cocktail stick. For the leaves, colour a small amount of marzipan with green food colouring and roll into 10 small balls. Flatten each with your thumb and then score lines using a cocktail stick. Press the leaves into the wide end of the carrot and arrange evenly around your carrot cake. I grated some fresh nutmeg over the cake for a final flourish!!