How to make carrot cake – recipe | Food

Scrub the carrot

A medieval idea revived by wartime rationing, carrots in desserts disappeared once sugar became widely available again, to resurface in the 1980s as a glamorous American import. It’s fair to say that carrot cake is a little more decadent today than it was under the Ministry of Food, and all the more fun.

Preparation 45 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Serves 6-8

150 g butterplus extra for greasing
1 orange
200 g carrots
100 g pecan nuts
plus a handful extra to decorate
150 g soft light brown sugarplus 50 g extra for the glaze
3 eggs
200 grams self-raising flour
(see step 4)
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp grated nutmeg
100 g sultanas or raisins

For the cherry
150 g full cream cheese (see step 6)
1 lemon

1 Size isn’t everything

Part of the charm of this cake (for me anyway) is how thick it is with carrots, chopped nuts, and other good stuff, so a slice goes a long way, hence its relatively small size. If you’re looking for a showstopper, double the quantities and make four layers instead of two.

2 Melting, grating, roasting, roasting and chopping

Grated carrots.

Melt the butter and set aside. Wash the orange well under hot water (especially if it has been waxed, as most non-organic fruits usually are), then finely grate the peel (keep the fruit itself for another use, or eat it). Scrub and coarsely grate the carrot.

Toast the pecans and chop them finely.

Toast all pecans in a dry pan, then roughly chop 100 g and keep the rest aside for decoration.

3 Start with the batter

Beat up a nice batter.

Grease two 18cm loaf pans and line with a line and preheat oven to 200C (180C Fan)/390F/Gas 6.

Place the melted and slightly cooled butter in a large bowl, add the sugar and eggs (you could also use white sugar here, but the toffee-like taste of brown suits the cake’s healthy vibe better), and whisk until the volume has almost doubled.

4 Fold in the dry ingredients

Fold in the dry ingredients.

Sift the flour (or use 200g wholemeal flour and two teaspoons baking powder), bicarb, salt and spices into the bowl then, using a large metal spoon, very slowly fold in the egg mixture, making sure to expel as little air as possible, until you no longer see bags of flour.

5 Add the carrots, fruit and nuts and fry

Add the carrot and fruit and nuts.

Gently 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.

Felicity Cloake's Carrot Cake – Divide evenly between two baking pans and bake.

Smooth the top and bake for about 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

6 Drain the cheese

Meanwhile, make the glaze. Pour off excess liquid from the cream cheese (I find the stabilizers added to the UK’s leading brand give it a slightly less satisfying texture than regular cream cheese – own label or the fancy Breton stuff would be my preference – but anything but, possibly, Boursin would work) and put it in a bowl.

7 Make the icing

Making the glaze.

Break any lumps in the cheese, then whisk in the 50 g remaining sugar until the mixture has a light, airy consistency. Add the finely grated zest of half the lemon (wash it first, as for the orange) and a splash of juice to taste; if the cream cheese is unsalted, you can also add a pinch of salt. Refrigerate until use.

8 Cool the cakes, then ice

Cool the cakes on a wire rack.

When the cakes are done, place them on a wire rack to cool. Under no circumstances should you try to freeze them until they are at room temperature, otherwise the glaze will melt. Once cooled, place the less attractive-looking of the two halves on a plate or pie plate and top with just under half of the frosting, extending slightly upward around the edge.

9 Finishing touch

Ice the cooled cakes and add garnishes such as nuts and zest.

Place the other half on top, ice and garnish with the remaining toasted pecans in a pattern of your choice. Although the carrot itself wilts quickly once grated, a few strands of julienne orange peel will look nice, or go all out, as I once did for a friend’s wedding, and sprinkle the top with miniature fondant carrots and bunnies. Each their own…