There’s a few conversations from my High School years that stick in my mind. There is one in particular though, which I always recall when someone mentions Carrot Cake!
Business Management was one of my most favourite classes at school. And it was by sheer luck that I actually ended up taking it at all. In S4 (Year 11 to those of you South of the Border) we choose what subjects we want to study as Highers (A-Levels in England) and my first choice subjects of Art and English left a remainder subject of either Business Management or Geography… I’m sure most of you sensible people would have made the same decision!
As fate would have it, I ended up in an amazing class, with my all-time favourite teacher and thoroughly enjoyed learning about the business world. In fact, I still use what I learned in that class in my everyday life now.
What’s this got to do with Carrot Cake though??
By S6 and my second year studying Business Management, we now had a lesson on a Friday morning. And in our local area, Fridays are only a half day of school. So because the lesson fell at the very end of the school week, we somehow got into the habit of having cake. Each week we’d take turns to bring in some cake and enjoy it whilst learning about Marketing and Operations.
Well, there was one week that Carrot Cake was mentioned and I can still recall, clear as day, when my close friend in our class piped up and said, “Why is it called Carrot Cake? Does it have carrots in it??”
Of course the entire class erupted into laughter. And since that day, whenever I hear mention of Carrot Cake, or see it on a menu anywhere, all I hear is, “Why is it called Carrot Cake? Does it have carrots in it??”
You’ll be pleased to know that this easy, authentic Carrot cake does indeed have carrots in it! Along with some other delicious additions that make it – in my opinion and the opinions of many others who have tried it – the best Carrot Cake in the world.
As we have established, a vital part of any carrot cake! The amount of carrot is listed in weight on the recipe but I tend to use a medium-large carrot, which will sometimes be a little more or less than 140g.
A lot of carrot cake recipes will use fancy brown sugars but I personally prefer to use a mixture of white and brown sugar. The light brown sugar gives the cake a more caramel flavour, with a slightly denser sponge. Where as the white caster sugar gives it a good kick of sweetness.
This recipes state half and half, but if you’ve got more/less of either you can experiment.
Carrot Cake will generally use an oil as opposed to butter or margarine and I’ve found sunflower oil to be my favourite. Coconut oil is also wonderful but will require melting before adding to the cake batter and is somewhat more pricey. However vegetable oil is also a good alternative if that’s what you have to hand.
Egg works as a binder in this recipe. I don’t tend to stress to much about the size of eggs in a cake, as long as they’re free-range.
I’ve tried carrot cakes without orange zest before and it is honestly a game changer that I wouldn’t skip. You can of course swap it out for another citrus fruits zest but I find the combo of orange and carrot hard to beat.
Raisins or Sultanas
Whichever you prefer really. I tend to go with what I have on hand, even if that means mixing the two to have enough.
My most favourite nuts (if our Walnut Biscuits recipe didn’t already give that away!). Of course if you have someone with a nut allergy you can bypass the Walnuts, however if you can, I recommend adding nuts as they give this Carrot Cake a beautiful bit of bite. Pecans are also an option if Walnuts aren’t your thing.
As with most cakes, self-raising flour is required. But if you only have plain to hand, fear not! You can use a plain flour with the addition of some baking powder.
Bicarbonate of Soda
Carrot Cake has quite a dense batter, so a little bit of Bicarbonate of Soda alongside the Self-raising Flour helps give the cake a little bit of boost.
Cinnamon and Nutmeg
Two spices that pack a bit of punch and give your Carrot Cake a bit more depth and flavour.
For the Buttercream
- 150 g Butter or Margarine (at room temperature)
- 300 g Icing Sugar
- Zest of an Orange or ½ tsp Cinnamon (optional)
- 1 handful Walnuts (roughly chopped – optional)
- Pre-heat your oven to 180°c (160°c for fan-assited ovens or Gas Mark 4). Grease and line two 7 inch sandwich cake tins with grease-proof paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix the oil, caster sugar and brown sugar, before adding in the eggs; one at a time ensuring they are mixed through well. Add the carrot, raisins/sultanas, walnuts & orange zest and mix to combine.
- Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda, add the cinnamon and nutmeg. before folding the mixture together to create a batter.
- Spoon the batter evenly into your prepared tins and bake in your pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for a little while, before transfering to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Buttercream:
- In a large bowl, mix the butter/margarine with the icing sugar (and orange zest/cinnamon, if using), until you have a light and fluffy buttercream.
- Once completely cool, spread half the buttercream on the top of one of your Carrot Cake layers, sandwich the other on top and spread the remaining buttercream on top. Finish with chopped walnuts to finish, if desired.
Free-from & Vegan
Gluten-free: Replace the self-raising flour for gluten-free self-raising flour.
Nut-free: Omit the nuts from the recipe and add some extra dried fruit instead.
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