Spring has finally sprung in Ireland.. Well kind of! But hey, the daffodils are out and the sun is shining (although it is still SUPER COLD). One cake that always takes me to a sunny day is carrot cake.. It has spring written all over it. Carrot Cake is definitely one of my favourite cakes of all time! It has to be home-made though. There’s something about the shop bought Carrot Cakes that I just don’t like. Maybe its the fake icing, or the serious lack of carrot; it just doesn’t come close to one lovingly made by somebody’s (or your own) fair hands.
Even though it still is quite cold outside, just looking out at then sun makes me smile! We just got a new puppy and he is loving lying in the sun. He has a little spot in our sitting room that has the perfect amount of light and heat for him. I brought him outside the other day for a wash, but I can assure you, when you are soaked and covered in suds, that shiny ball in the sky will not keep you warm! Spring is the perfect time for walking. The flowers are all beginning to bloom and the birds are all singing away. I live in a seaside town and the beach is always bustling with walkers, nothing can beat the fresh sea air, perfect for blowing away the cob webs.
A good Carrot Cake recipe is one that everyone should have stashed away. The best thing is that it is super moist and keeps for days (if it stays around for that long). The worst thing about Carrot Cake is grating the carrots.. I hate it! Unfortunately I haven’t found any top tips, so you just have to grin and bear it and hope that it is all worth it in the end! I love adding walnuts and sultanas to Carrot Cake. I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea so they can be easily left out, but I for one am a big fan! The recipe I use is adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook that I found here.
I think people are always alarmed when making carrot cake at the amount of oil and sugar that goes into it! Don’t be fooled by the name, it may have some veggies, but it certainly ain’t healthy. Carrot Cake is so simple to make, but grating those carrots does take a lot of patience and elbow grease. Traditionally Carrot Cake has a cream cheese frosting, but I don’t really like the taste. A simple vanilla buttercream is always my go to frosting, it’s tasty and so easy to make. It really does compliment a carrot cake full of flavour and spice. When making a vanilla buttercream, it all comes down to the vanilla you use. I love the Nielsen Massey Vanilla Bean Paste and although it is quite expensive, a little really does go a long way. It lasts for ages and it has the most amazing flavour from it. Use a good vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste and you’ll have a delicious frosting that will go well with any cake.
makes; 3 layered 9inch cake
300ml sunflower oil
300g soft light brown sugar
300g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp baking powder
1tbsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground ginger
1tsp vanilla extract/bean paste
350g grated carrots
75g walnuts, chopped small
75g sultanas (tossed in a pinch plain flour)
– Pre-heat the oven to 170c (150c fan, 340f). Line 3 x 9inch round deep cake tins with parchment paper.
– Pop the sugar, sunflower oil, eggs and vanilla in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer untill well combined.
– Sift the flour along with the bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
– Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat with an electric mixture until just combined.
– Add in the grated carrots and give it a good mix through with a spatula before adding the walnuts and raisins and doing the same.
– Split the mixture between the three tins (about 2cups each).
– Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
– Allow the cakes to cool completely on wire racks.
– Sandwich each layer with 2 scoops of buttercream before crumb coating the whole cake. The cover the cake in a generous layer of icing, sprinkle with chopped walnuts and enjoy with a nice cup of tea!
Crumb Coating: covering a the whole cake in a thin layer of icing to lock in any crumbs, even out any odd bits and give your cake the perfect finish when you ice it!
Vanilla Buttercream Icing
250g butter or margarine
3 cups of icing sugar (sifted!)
1tsp vanilla extract/bean paste
– Beat the butter in a bowl with an electric mixer.
– Add icing sugar 1 cup at a time, beating after each one.
– Beat in the vanilla until the icing is smooth and fluffy.