Sunday, 21 April 2013

Carrot & Orange Cake

I first made a carrot cake many years ago, I think it had just made an appearance in the UK and was
catching on as the latest trendy edible to arrive here from across the pond!  I wasn't too thrilled with the result to be honest, and nor am I greatly enamoured with the many versions of carrot cake on offer in cafes.  Maybe it is the idea of there being carrots in a cake, which puts me off slightly; but it certainly wouldn't have been my first choice of cake to have with tea or coffee.

However, my husband has a penchant for carrot cake; it must fulfill one criteria, and that is it must be moist !  If it isn't moist then back it goes to the counter whence it came...he is unable to eat anything less than a moist carrot cake! :)

So, I have set about seeking and perfecting a recipe that gives a moist carrot cake.  I also wanted it to be slightly different to the more commonly available carrot cakes.  I didn't really want it to taste of spices such as nutmeg and ginger, although I did want a note or two of cinnamon to permeate through.  I wanted to add a different texture to the structural element, and opted for chopped walnuts, and added wholemeal flour as well as ordinary flour.  I didn't want it to be too rough and firm in texture, so I think combining both flours allows a nice, softer, yet slight firmness to the crumb.

I also wanted to add orange, not just the zest, which appears in numerous carrot cake recipes, but I wanted to incorporate the juice.  However, adding the juice to what is almost an exceptionally moist cake (the carrots give a lot moisture) would be too much for the cake to withstand.  So, I added an orange glaze to the baked cake; and just to be absolutely sure of a serious orangey flavour, I added orange essence to the frosting.  Result: a delicious, very delicious! MOIST, extremely tasty, carrot and orange cake.  The frosting adds a new depth of flavour,and is a perfect foil to the cake, in that it enhances the carrot, orangey, nuttyness!

You will need:

  • 175 g light muscovado sugar
  • 150 ml sunflower oil
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 160 g (fine to medium) grated carrot (approx 3 medium carrots)
  • Grated zest of 1 large orange
  • 100 g wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 75 g self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon  (freshly ground cinnamon is best)
  • 40 g chopped walnuts
For the Orange Glaze:

  • Juice of 1 large orange
  • 2 tablespoons of caster sugar
For the Frosting:

  • 200 g cream cheese (low fat is better)
  • Icing sugar to taste (I have left the quantity for you to decide, some like it sweet, some prefer, like me, not so sweet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom essence
  • chopped walnuts to sprinkle over the top

1.  Heat oven to 160 C (Fan).  Put sugar, oil and eggs into a large bowl, and lightly mix with a wooden spoon
2.  Stir in carrots, orange zest, and nuts
3.  Mix flours, bicarbonate of soda, and cinnamon together, then sift into bowl and lightly mix.  Stop mixing when everything is combined
4.  Pour mixture into prepared tin (18 cm square loose bottomed, greased and lined with baking parchment)
5.  Bake for 45 mins, and a wooden skewer comes out clean
6.  Squeeze the juice of the orange into a pan (sieve to remove all that isn't juice), and add sugar, and heat slowly until sugar has dissolved.  As soon as cake is ready, brush the glaze all over the top of the cake and allow to soak in.  Leave cake to cool completely, then remove from tin.
7.  Mix together the cream cheese, icing sugar, and orange blossom essence.  Add more icing sugar if you prefer it sweeter.
8.  Spread the frosting all over the top of the cake, and swirl it a knife.  Add chopped walnuts to decorate.


P.S.  since publishing the recipe on the Blog, the BBC Good Food web site has published my recipe.  YOu can see it here

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