As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, my carrot cake is often requested. Sometimes it feels to me as if it’s requested too often, given all the other recipes I want to try. But it’s requested so frequently for a good reason: it tastes good.
A friend recently celebrated his birthday and I offered to bring a cake. He requested carrot cake. I complied. And suddenly I was the star of his awesome party! Complete strangers came up to me praising the cake. There was almost a fight for the last piece. And just before the absolute last morsel was consumed, many eyes gazed longingly at the lucky man’s fork. (That’s actually not hyperbole. I was standing right next to him as he announced it was the very last bite and then proceeded to enjoy it.)
So of course I need to post this recipe that works every time and is such a show-stopper.
From The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
Another bestseller at the Hummingbird, this carrot cake is moist and full of flavour. You can vary how finely you chop the nuts for the sponge, and pecan nuts or walnuts can be substituted freely. For an extra-special touch, decorate the top with mini carrots – these can either be formed by hand using sugar paste or piped on using orange buttercream frosting.
Yield: one 3-layer, 8-inch/20 cm round cake
300 gram soft light brown sugar
300 ml sunflower oil
300 gram plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra to decorate
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
300 grams carrots, grated (I use 250 g because that’s what size the grated carrots come in at the grocery store and I’m far too lazy to grate my own)
100 grams shelled walnuts, chopped, plus extra, chopped and whole, to decorate (I make this with whatever nuts I have on hand. Walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, a mix…)
2 quantities cream cheese frosting (I find I generally need more like 1.5 quantities of frosting to frost the three layers of this cake)
Preheat the oven to 170C (325F).
Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round spring-form pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until all the ingredients are well incorporated (don’t worry if the mixture looks slightly split). Slowly add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed.
Stir in the grated carrots and walnuts by hand until they are all evenly dispersed.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
When the cakes are cold, put one on a cake stand and spread about one-quarter of the cream cheese frosting over it with a palette knife. Place a second cake on top and spread another quarter of the frosting over it. Top with the last cake and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides. Finish with walnuts and a light sprinkling of cinnamon.
Note: I’ve made a couple of different cream cheese frosting recipes. While this one doesn’t turn out every time, this one has a high success rate and tastes good.
Cream Cheese Frosting
From Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
Yield: makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes
300 grams confectioners’/powdered sugar, sifted
50 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
125 grams cream cheese, cold
Beat the powdered sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.