I haven’t had many carrot cakes in my life. They just never look or sound quite so appetising. Do I really want to be eating a cake that’s loaded with some kind of root vegetable when I can have something else that’s full of bad things like gooey chocolate ganache and fatty cream instead? No, not really. The ones I have had were never quite right either, always too sweet or the icing too gritty. Seriously, nothing can be more gross than gritty icing.
After much pestering and convincing from The Boyfriend that carrot cakes really aren’t as bad as I think, I decided to try making my own. As I wearily grated half a kg of carrots, I thought, this better be worth it or I won’t be a happy bunny. Fast forward an hour and many weeks later, I can tell you, this is one seriously good carrot cake. Totally gorge-worthy. It’s so good, you won’t even know there are carrots in it. Yes, the irony. What a great way to trick children into eating a bag of carrots.
The long list of ingredients may appear tedious but this cake really is quite easy to make, especially if you are particularly good at delegating. I successfully tricked the unsuspecting Boyfriend into grating a whole load of carrots the last time – what a difference it makes! It’s really good on its own and out-of-the-world amazing with a fat dollop of cream cheese frosting.
SERIOUSLY GOOD CARROT CAKE
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Baking time: 40-45 minutes
Adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup raw caster sugar
1/2 cup coconut sugar, or another 1/2 cup raw caster sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
450g/3 cups coarsely grated carrots
1/2 cup buttermilk*
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
* Full-fat milk, sour cream, yoghurt seem to work just as well.
1. PREHEAT oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Grease and line two 20-22cm (8-9″) cake tins.
2. SIFT together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Lightly whisk the mixture by hand to ensure that the ingredients are well mixed.
3. MIX. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugars with the oil on low speed until the mixture resembles wet sand. As you make the batter, stop the mixer frequently and scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, adding the next one as soon as the previous one has disappeared into the batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and blend for 3 minutes. The thick batter will increase in volume and lighten in colour.
4. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour. After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl. Stop the mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand to ensure you do not over-beat the batter.
5. FOLD in the carrots, pecans and currants.
6. BAKE. Divide the batter evenly into the cake tins. Place the pans in the centre of the oven and bake until the cakes are golden and spring back when lightly touched in the middle, 40 to 45 minutes.
7. COOL & ICE. When cake is baked, promptly run a knife around the edge of the pan to help the cake retract evenly from the sides. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack until completely cool before gently remove the cakes from their pans.
Cream Cheese Icing
250g/9 oz cream cheese, cold.
1/3 cup butter, cut into small cubes.
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and blend on medium speed to soften. While mixing on medium speed, gradually add the butter pieces and continue beating until all the butter is incorporated.
2. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue mixing on medium speed until the frosting is well blended and has a smooth texture.
3. To assemble cake, slap a whole load of frosting onto one of the cakes before gently plonking the other cake above the cream. Garnish with a dust of icing sugar.