I am SO excited about sharing this recipe with you! This post includes A CARROT CAKE GIF and a Donald Glover gif too, incidentally. It’s all just over the page.
I’m writing to you from my sick bed, aka the couch. The weather has taken a turn for the colder (it was 8 degrees this morning! and houses here don’t have heating!). Whilst I’m pleased about that, I think my poor body was like “nooooo, why didn’t you get your flu shot this year, Hannah?!” So, under a blanket, I finished watching season 2 of Gossip Girl, and I decided that was enough. It’s time to extract myself from that upper west side situation and focus on better TV shows and books. Disclaimer: I’m sorry if when you started reading my blog you were expecting more chat about food and less chat about TV shows, but I gotta live my life. I like what I like, which is Gossip Girl and Gillian Anderson in silk blouses and a big, glorious slice of carrot cake to wash it all down with.
I’ve been obsessed with making cakes recently. You know how you get an idea in your head, and it’s a cake, and you can’t get it out of your head until you make it? Like, my brain’s current obsession is chocolate blackberry mud cake, and I know exactly how I want it to taste and what kind of texture I’m after. I want it to be just so, and tomorrow, if I’m feeling well enough, I’m going to try it out. I had the same obsession with this carrot cake. It started when a colleague mentioned that she had recently made a carrot cake with mascarpone icing. I was like:
For the next few days, carrot cake haunted me. I’d be working, trying to focus, and all of a sudden… carrot cake would pop up in my brain, in front of all other tasks. Mascarpone icing would appeal to me at my hungriest and busiest. I’d be eating some tuna and salad, and my brain would scoff, “Stop pretending to enjoy those green leafy vegetables.” “SHUT UP, BRAIN, IT’S DELICIOUS,” I’d silently say back.
But carrot cake was still there. It wasn’t going away, so I made it. In the end I went with a more traditional cream cheese icing – I have to say I’ve never made anything with mascarpone in my life – but next time I’ll be trying it with mascarpone, now that I’ve done a bit more research about it. This is a really robust, thick icing, so if you like it a little bit lighter, simply add a tablespoon or two more of the citrus juice to loosen it up a bit.
This carrot cake with cream cheese icing is a classic combination, but I’m glad it’s on my blog now, because this is something I know I’ll make again and again.
- 1 packed cup / 175g dark brown sugar
- 2 extra large eggs
- ⅔ cup / 150ml rice bran oil or vegetable oil
- ⅔ cup / 100g plain flour
- ⅔ cup / 100g wholemeal flour
- pinch of salt
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1½ tsp cinnamon powder
- 200g carrots, grated
- zest of 1 mandarin
- 90g pecan nuts, chopped, plus 40g extra for decorating
- 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup / 150g icing sugar
- 500g cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ tsp cinnamon powder
- 2 tbsp mandarin juice
- Preheat the oven to 190C (170C fan forced) and grease a cake tin. I only have one, so I have to bake the layers separately. If you have two cake tins of the same size (yay!), grease them both. My cake tin is 15cm in diameter.
- Whisk the sugar, eggs and oil in a large bowl.
- Sift in the plain flour, wholemeal flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. I find this step especially important for the wholemeal flour, since it means you won't get any of the husky wheat bits in the cake. Fold until just combined.
- Fold in the carrots, mandarin zest and 90g pecan nuts.
- If using two tins, divide between the two tins. If using one tin, pour half of the mixture into the tin. (Nerd alert: I weighed the entire cake mixture, and it was 830g, therefore 415g per layer... if you're after layer perfection).
- Bake for 25 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. If using one tin, go ahead and re-grease the tin and bake the second layer now.
- Beat the butter and icing sugar using electric beaters until pale and fluffy, scraping down the sides occasionally with a spatula.
- Add the cream cheese, cinnamon and mandarin juice, and beat until combined. Add more mandarin juice if you want a looser icing.
- The cake layers should be completely cool before beginning this step.
- Place the bottom layer on your serving plate of choice.
- Spread roughly half of the icing all over the top of the layer, starting from the centre and spreading it outwards to the edges. I find a palette knife is extremely useful for doing this task, but failing that a butter knife is probably the next best thing.
- Place the second layer on top.
- Spread the remaining icing over the top of the cake.
- Decorate with 40g pecan nuts.
- Keep refrigerated until ready to eat!
PS what do you do with a whole lot of leftover, slightly stale carrot cake? Why, make carrot cake truffles, of course! Here’s what you do: place the cake in the food processor, and process until smooth. Melt dark chocolate in a small saucepan (or microwave, or double boiler) – the quantity will depend on how much carrot cake you have leftover. Roll the carrot cake filling into small balls with your hands, skewer each one with a toothpick, and dip in the melted chocolate, swirling around until coated. Place on a baking paper-lined plate, and sprinkle with flaky salt. Refrigerate.