Sunday, 31 May 2015

A Classic Carrot and Walnut Cake

According to recent news headlines, we love lists. As we apparently can't resist them, here's a list of reasons you really ought to bake this carrot cake this weekend:

1. It tastes really good. Really, really good. Any semblance of modesty has clearly been thrown out of the window as I type this but, after tasting this cake, I received this text from the birthday girl: 'OMG!! That cake was OUT OF THIS WORLD'

2. It's got carrots in it. And carrots are a vegetable. Which everyone knows are really healthy. Sure, it may not exactly be a large, crunchy bowl of salad but it sounds a bit more healthy than, say,  a 'Double Chocolate Devil's Food Cake'

3. Its got a super thick layer of gloriously decadent cream cheese icing. The best icing a cake can be smothered in.

4. Carrot cake has rather a illustrious history. According to the World Carrot Museum (surely up there with the Lawnmower and Pencil Museums as front-runners for the title of the quirkiest museum in Great Britain) the Carrot Cake is likely to have descended from Medieval carrot puddings, when carrots were used instead of sugar to add sweetness. During the first and second world wars, rationing of sugar again led to carrots being used as sweeteners in cakes. 

5. It tastes really good. But I may have already mentioned that. 

Classic Carrot Cake 

For the cake:

125g sultanas 
juice of 1 orange
75g walnuts

3 large eggs
150ml oil
150g light brown soft sugar
200g self-raising flour (wholemeal or white)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
220g peeled and grated carrots
50g dessiccated coconut
grated zest of 1 orange

For the icing:

200g full fat cream cheese
75g butter
100g icing sugar

1. If possible, the night before baking the cake, place the sultanas and orange juice in a bowl and set aside. This will plump up the sultanas ensuring they are nice and juicy for the cake. If you haven't the time, simply pop the sultanas and juice in a microwave-proof dish and microwave for around a minute or so
2. Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 3/180C/160C fan/325F. Grease and line two 8inch/20cm sandwich tins with baking paper
2. Spread 50g of the walnuts on an ungreased baking tray and toast for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove, cool and roughly chop into small pieces
4. Whisk the sugar, egg and oil together for a few minutes until all the sugar is nicely dissolved
5. Sift the flour, spices and bicarb into the bowl and fold in
6. Add the sultanas, carrots, coconut, orange zest and 50g of the toasted nuts and fold until combined
7. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake the cakes for approximately 25-30 minutes or until risen, firm and springy to touch. Allow to cool in the tins for five minutes before turning out the cake to cool completely on a couple of wire racks
8. To make the icing: beat the butter, cream cheese and icing sugar. Spread to sandwich the two cakes together and use the remainder on top of the cake. Decorate with the remaining walnuts

Baker's Notes...

  • Apparently Carrot Cake is one of the Nation's Favourite Cakes (ohh, another reason to add to the list to get baking this over the weekend!). I enjoyed a particularly fine example in Peyton and Byrne in Greenwich just yesterday


  1. You absolutely cannot say enough times how good a cake is, especially one like this. It looks perfect, just what I would like to have for my pudding today. Alas, I am in the middle of packing so today won't be the day for carrot cake.

  2. I love carrot cake especially when served with a generous layer of cream cheese frosting. Please send me a slice as yours looks irresistible!

  3. Oh this looks gooooood. I haven't tried a carrot cake with sultanas before so I'll need to try this recipe. Also love that there's a World Carrot Museum!!

  4. Sometimes the classic cakes are the best, I can definitely see why this is one of the nations favourite, yum!

  5. I really want to eat this cake. I'm trying to persuade myself that it's vegetables. By the way, I've been to both the lawnmower and the pencil museum. I'm not sure what that says about me.

  6. Carrot cake with cream cheese topping is one of my all time favourites, but I love this one with its variation of sultanas and walnuts.

  7. Wow, that carrot cake really looks delicious. I definitely have to try your recipe. Hopefully, my carrot cake will look that beautiful too. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

    Warm wishes, Sylvie

  8. You had me at carrot cake! When I saw it included coconut...even better!


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