02/09/2012 by Mark Leach
My cake craving struck me mid-week and I only had one thing on my mind: carrot cake. I made this Nigel Slater recipe for my Dad’s birthday back in May and while it tasted great it was a bit of a last-minute thing and the topping was a sloppy disaster. Not pretty.
So this time I was determined to do it properly. And I guess this is my main tip for this cake, which is actually really easy to make: take your time. I started it at 10:00 and we were devouring it by 13:30. Most of that time was fridge-time, so don’t think the preparation and baking will take ages.
Ingredients (for the cake)
250g self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
200ml sunflower oil
250g light muscovado sugar or brown cane sugar
3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
150g grated carrots
juice of half a lemon
Ingredients (for the topping)
200g cream cheese
150g icing sugar
zest of a medium orange
about 10-15 walnut halves
Heat the oven to 180°C. Butter and line the base of one 30cm cake tin, or two 22cm ones, if you’re making a two-layer cake. For this recipe I used a 30cm dish and just made a one-mayer cake. I’ve made the two-layer cake before and it looked impressive but the filling tended to squish out when you ate it. So I tried the one-layer this time.
Now make the cake mix. Sieve the flour and salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into a bowl. Separately beat the egg yolks, sugar and oil until well mixed and creamy. Add the grated carrots to the mixture, the lemon juice and walnuts. Fold the dried ingredients into the mix. Beat the egg whites until stiff and then fold these into the mixture with a metal spoon.
Pour the mix into the cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes. The cake is cooked when it has come away from the sides. Another way to check is to put a knife into the cake – if it comes out dry, without any mixture, it’s done.
Put the cake to one side to cool – ideally on a wire rack. It needs to be completely cool before you add the topping.
To make the topping just blend the mascarpone, cream cheese, icing sugar and orange zest. Spread this on top and along the sides of the cake and decorate with some of the walnut halves. Then put into the cake fridge to set – it should take about an hour.