Although carrot cake came to popularity in England during the second world war, its origins stretch back several hundred years to the carrot puddings eaten in the middle ages. Carrot cake is a bit of a marmite food with people either loving or hating it; I have never met anyone who was ambivalent about it.
The emergence of carrot cake in the second world war came about because of sugar rationing. This led to people looking for an easy alternative and carrots were perfect as people could grow them in their back gardens. Luckily, you can’t taste the carrot in carrot cake but it gives a lovely colour and along with the use of oil instead of butter, helps the cake remain moist for a long time. I actually made the mistake of leaving the cakes on top of an Aga for about two hours as I took them out of the oven in a hurry and when I got back the cakes had not dried out at all!
Of course, you can’t have carrot cake without cream cheese frosting. Here in England the only readily available cream cheese is the spreadable version in tubs not the block cream cheese that you really need to make a good frosting. Spreadable cream cheese has a far higher water content and this water can cause the icing to turn into a runny soup. The best way to avoid this is to use butter as a base for the icing. This gives a rich flavour and also causes the icing to firm up in the fridge leaving it nice and smooth. The frankly obscene amount of icing sugar also helps prevent the collapse of the frosting.
I hope you enjoy the recipe.
For the cake:
450ml vegetable oil
450g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
530g grated carrot
150g chopped walnuts
Cream Cheese Frosting:
150g unsalted butter
240g cream cheese
840g sifted icing sugar
To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (1800C).
Oil and line four eight inch baking tins and place a circle of parchment on the base of each one.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar.
Add the eggs one at a time and whisk together after each addition.
Mix in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon in three batches.
Gently whisk in the carrot – you don’t want it to get shredded in the mixer so use the lowest speed setting.
Divide the cake mix between the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Leave to cool for ten minutes and then remove the cakes from the tins and leave on a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the icing, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy.
Add the cream cheese and beat again.
Mix in the icing sugar in three batches and start your mixer on slow each time to avoid the icing sugar going everywhere!
The moment the icing has come together, stop mixing it.
Place the base of the cake onto a serving plate and spread a layer of cream cheese frosting over this.
Add another layer of cake and frosting and continue until all the layers have been used up.
Spread a thick layer of frosting on the top of the cake. You can decorate this with little sugar carrots (normally available in the supermarket baking aisle) or sprinkles. Just bear in mind that cream cheese frosting is very soft and won’t hold its shape well.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe and your cream cheese frosting doesn’t turn to liquid. If you fancy a Mexican treat, check out how to make some spicy Enchiladas or if you are looking a different dessert, why not treat yourself to the best apple crumble you will eat.
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a delicious risotto recipe.