Saturday, 28 September 2013

Carrot cake

Vic and Nyree have asked for this recipe and this is as good a way to share as any.  I'm going to tell you how I made it and also tell you about the bit I left out.  It's a Jo Wheatley recipe.

  • 300g soft brown sugar - I think I used a mixture of light muscovado and golden granulated.
  • 250ml sunflower oil - I used corn oil because that's what I use in muffin recipes so it's always in the cupboard
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • pinch of salt
  • 250g carrots coarsely grated
  • 150g pecans chopped (I put them in a bag and bashed them with a rolling pin)
  • zest of half an orange - I use a zester and then chop the zest because I think you get more zest this way than if you use a grater
Orange syrup (I didn't do this bit)
  • juice of half a large orange
  • 20g caster sugar (if I had done this I would have used granulated)
  • 400g cream cheese - recipe says full fat and that's what I used because if you've having cake I don't see the point in low calorie stuff but I guess you could use low fat version
  • 100g icing sugar - you can reduce this quantity if you want slightly less sweet frosting and I did use less
  • zest and juice of half an orange
  • pecan halves to decorate if you can be bothered - I couldn't
  • Grease a rectangular tin 20cm x 25cm or thereabouts.  Line with baking parchment and grease the baking parchment.  This is always a faff but better to do this than have a cake that cannot be removed from the tin.
  • Depending on how long your oven takes to heat up, and how long you take to mix things, preheat oven to 180˚C for a non fan oven or 160˚C for a fan oven.  If you have a gas oven it's gas mark 4 or for an Aga you're on your own.
  • Mix the sugar and the oil.  I used a mixer and wasn't quite sure what this should look like.  I stopped when it looked like it had combined.
  • Add the eggs and mix until smooth.  I mixed this for quite a while but it wasn't ever really smooth, more smooth-ish.
  • Fold in flour, mixed spice and salt.
  • Add grated carrot, pecans and orange zest and mix until combined.  The point here is not to mix the living daylights out of it, so use a spoon and be gentle.
  • Spoon into baking tin and cook for about 40 minutes.  Check it with the skewer test.  Jo uses a wooden skewer but I use a metal skewer.  I don't know which is best or even whether it matters.
  • If you are going to do the orange syrup (which I didn't) then while the cake is in the oven, heat the orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid has reduced by one third.
  • Brush the warm cake with the orange syrup and then leave the cake to cool.
  • While the cake is cooling you can make the frosting by beating cream cheese, orange juice, icing sugar and orange zest together.  Beat this for quite a while until smooth.  I think I might have beaten it for too long as the mixture was sliding around the metal bowl without leaving a trail on the bowl.  It was also struggling not to slide off the top of the cake.  The orange syrup, being sticky, might help with this.
  • Spread the frosting over the cooled cake and decorate with pecans if you want to.
  • I cut this into 12 slices but I was told the slices were quite big (I thought they were just fine).

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