From medieval warfare to a new medieval idea, the carrots in desserts disappeared as soon as sugar was again widely available, becoming an American import in the 1980s. Nowadays, it is fair to say that carrot cake is a little more decadent than it is under the Ministry of Food and all the better for it.
Preparation 45 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Will serve 6-8
150g butterPlus extra for ghee
200 g carrots
100 grams of pecansPlus a handful of garnish extra
150g soft light brown sugarPlus 50g extra for icing
200g of self-grown whole flour (See step 4)
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
. Teaspoon salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
100 g sultanas or raisins
150g full fat cream cheese (See step 6)
1 size is not everything
The charm of this cake (for me, anyway) is how dense it is with carrots, chopped nuts and other good things, so a slice goes a long way, so a relatively small size. If you are looking for a show-stopper, double the quantity and make four layers instead of two.
2 Melt, zest, grate, toast and chop
Melt the butter and set aside. Give orange fruit a good rinse under hot water (especially wax, most non-organic fruits), then finely grate the zest (save or eat the fruit for another use). Scrub the carrot and grate it roughly.
Toast all the pecans in a dry pan, then cut approximately 100 grams and set aside for decoration.
3 Start with the batter
Grease and line two 18cm sandwich tins and heat the oven to 200C (180C fan) / 390 F / gas 6.
Put the melted and slightly cooled butter in a large bowl, add the sugar and eggs (you can use white sugar here, but the brown tofish flavor works well with the healthy vibe of the cake), and whisk until nearly doubled in volume.
4 times in dry ingredients
Put the dough (or 200g of plain flour and two teaspoons of baking powder), bicarb, salt and spices into the bowl, then gently fold into the egg mixture using a large metal spoon, making sure the little air is knocked out. As much as possible, until you see the pockets of dough.
Add 5 carrots, fruit and nuts and bake
Slowly fold in the carrots, orange zest, chopped pecans and dried fruit until well distributed, then divide between the two tins – it may be helpful to weigh them to make sure they are the same size.
Lubricate the top and bake for about 30 minutes, until the pierced skier in the middle comes out dry.
6 Drain the cheese
Meanwhile, make the icing. I find that the stabilizers added to the UK’s leading brand offer a slightly less satisfying texture than the plain cream cheese – own-label or luxury Breton stuff is my preference – but anything else, presumably, boursin works, and put it in a bowl.
7 Make icing
Break up any lumps in the cheese, then beat in 50g of remaining sugar until the mixture has a slight airy consistency. Add half a lemon finely grated zest (rinse it first with orange) and squeeze the juice to taste; If the cream cheese is salty, you can also add a pinch of salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Cool 8 cakes, then ice
Once the cake is ready, turn them onto the rack to cool. In any case, do not try to ice them until they are at room temperature, or the icing will melt. Once cooled, place the two less attractive parts onto a plate or cake stand and place it slightly above the rim with less than half the icing on top.
9 final touches
Put the other half on top, ice it up and decorate with the remaining grilled pecans in whatever pattern you choose. Although the carrots dry quickly after grating, some strands of julienne orange zest look good, or as I once did at a friend’s wedding, and spread out the top with miniature fondant carrots and rabbits. Each has its own…