“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie…”
— Jim Davis
When was the first ever time that you had your first taste of carrot cake?
Mine was inside a bus station Costa on one girly, Saturday afternoon with Joanna. Since it was getting so cold, dark and wet outside, we had decided that it was about time to cross last thing off of our shopping lists – two super sweet vanilla/cinnamon lattes were most certainly due.
A square cut Brownie? Pecan slice? Millionaires shortbread? All of the usual suspects in the counter plagued our decision as we eyed them up from our maroon seats by the right hand corner window…
“What’s a carrot cake taste like?” I inquired.
“Let’s split one” – was her answer.
Sooner or later, she knew well enough that her side of the cake definitely wasn’t going to be having as much icing as mine…
It was 100% love at first bite, and Joanna is still just as generous today as she was then.
I should also point out that Miss Joanna is the same angel who also cut me first ever slice of cheesecake – like, ever. We were 15, and her mum remains one of the greatest cooks/bakers of all time. It happened on yet another Saturday afternoon. It was pretty much from here onwards that my love for all things cream cheese in tandem with cake was born…
Joanna: I dedicate this carrot cake and the (magical) icing to you… <3
This is the best carrot cake ever…Ever. I am convinced because the moistness of every firm slice, in addition to the silky soft frosting simply cannot be argued with. The cross section is also undeniably beautiful:
I actually made it welcome my family back from their 10 day holiday (there was no more irresistible way to apologize for the state of the house). Carrot cake is one of my dad’s favorite cakes of all time. On the other hand, my mum usually hates sweets -but she loved this cake:
In fact, every single time I visited the fridge in the days following their return – yet another slice of this circular, cream cheese frosted beauty had disappeared…Visitors wanted more, and even my own family were cutting themselves ‘slices for later’ – only to set these bagged slices down again on a covered plate right next to the rapidly disappearing cake. Less than a week later, 2 thinly cut slices are the only remnants of the gigantic cake that once was….
My mum said that the cake itself was perfectly “moist”, and not overly sweet, although I don’t think that the same could ever be said for any kind of cream cheese icing (it’s in the name). This cake was so delicious that it didn’t even need the icing to be properly addictive. This cake captured more hearts than one.
This cake also makes a great breakfast. Dropped into a big bowl and heaped with a generous spoonful of Greek yogurt + extra cinnamon – you have a well balanced way to start the day. The chopped pecans add extra substance, and the cream cheese alone ensures that you stay full all morning. In this house, it is honestly a case of breakfast or never…
For the cake:
- 2 C white flour
- 1 C finely grated carrots (I blitzed pre-grated carrot in the food processor)
- 1 C tasteless vegetable oil (rapeseed, sunflower)
- 5 medium eggs + 2 yolks.
- 2 C white sugar.
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp vanilla essence.
- 3 tbsp three spice/pumpkin pie spice
- 1 C chopped pecans (food processor shout out)
- A plash of milk/evaporated milk/buttermilk.
For the frosting:
- 2.5 C icing sugar
- 1 C butter (I use a ratio of 1C butter to 2.5 C sugar for any butter-cream based frosting).
- 1 pack and a half of cream cheese (Any more was too much, any less was too little). (220g/7.5Oz or so)
- 1 tsp vanilla.
- Combine the wet ingredients: Cream the oiler and sugar, before adding the eggs and vanilla last. Do not over beat; just integrate them loosely.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar, carrots, powder, soda, and the salt.
- Mix the dry and wet ingredients thoroughly, add the pecans and a splash of milk to make the cake batter runny enough to pour into a tin. The milk will help to make the cake fluffy and even lighter than the vegetable oil will have made it.
- Fold the pecans into the batter.
- Split the mixture between 2/3 cake tins.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes (3 tins) at 180* (Fan). The cake will go considerably darker once it is ready – just poke a toothpick inside to double check near the 20 minute mark. Adjust the cooking times accordingly for 2 tins (30 mins approx)
- Cool in oven for 10 minutes before removing from the oven and cooling for at least an hour before frosting.
Cream cheese frosting (ridiculously easy):
- Empty the softened cup of butter into a large bowl, adding the icing sugar gradually. Use a fork/whisk to stir everything together. The icing should be spreadable and getting considerably smoother the more you whip it.
- Add the 1.5packs of cream cheese (if you add any more it may get too runny to spread).
- Spread between the cake layers + use to frost the top! (It might help to refrigerate the frosting for about 15 minutes before doing so. I didn’t, and I found *neat* frosting to be quite a challenge – but I got there in the end. The frosting looked see through initially, but after a couple of hours in the fridge it solidified and covered the entire cake in a more opaque manner).
I see such quantities of cream cheese as the mother of a cake which is half carrot, and half cheesecake…the best of both worlds in a single tin.
Lastly, this cake has given me some real baking confidence! In fact, the first ever carrot cake that I baked myself went completely wrong…the bottom had rapidly sunk to below sea level, the icing turned out to be runnier than bad custard, and the inside was way too moist and gooey. The cake batter hadn’t even split between the pans because at the time, we only had one single cake tin…
“Fail. Fail. Fail” screamed the oven.
My first (and final) attempt to cut the thing in half also didn’t end up well at all. Needless to say, this failure (and the entire morning I’d spent pressed up against the oven window) ended up in hurt.I remember trying to convince my family that it was ‘eat-able’, but the half baked batter quite simply refused to behave itself and ended up in the bin within no time. Nobody wanted to bag a spoon of cream cheese custard and burnt orange mush…ouch. So, we fast forward to about a year onward; I have a stronger desire to do carrots some real justice…and now, it seems like the patience and whipping of cream has paid off…BAKING IS EASY! That feels liberating to say – in capital letters too!
This cake must be seen to be believed. It is huge.. Nevertheless, don’t expect it to last very long. You had best bake hungry.
When was the first time that you ever have carrot cake?
What’s your favorite type of cake and why?! Share!