Whenever people ask me if I can make carrot cake it’s never a passing question, I’ve found that people who like carrot cake love carrot cake. Believe it or not for many years I struggled to make carrot cake successfully (let me just say that doesn’t mean I practised for years, but the failure came a few years ago and I never attempted it again – until now). There are so many ways to put your own spin on a simple carrot cake recipe, adding extra spices, fruit or flavourings to suit your tastes.
for the cake
- 220g self-raising flour, sifted
- 1½ teaspoons mixed spice, sifted
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger, sifted
- 20g desiccated coconut
- 220g dark brown soft sugar
- 4 medium eggs
- 220ml (200g) sunflower oil
- 220g grated carrot
- grated zest of 1 orange
- 70g sultanas
for the frosting
- 80g full-fat cream cheese
- 30g butter, very soft
- 150g icing sugar, sifted
- strips of orange zest
Make the cake: preheat the oven to 180°C (170°C fan)/350°F/gas mark 4, grease a 20cm square tin and line with non-stick baking paper (you can also use a 900g loaf tin, the base should be about 20x10cm).
Combine the flour, spices and coconut in a bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat the sugar and eggs with a balloon whisk until smooth, then mix in the oil. Stir in the carrot, orange zest and sultanas (still using the whisk), then mix in the dry ingredients until they are evenly mixed in.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes (1 hour and 20 minutes in the loaf tin) until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the frosting: place the cheese and butter in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Carefully mix in the icing sugar until incorporated, then beat the mixture using an electric hand mixer, until the mixture increases in volume and holds its shape – be sure not to overbeat as the cheese will lose its consistency and the frosting will be runny. Spread evenly over the top of the cooled cake and decorate with the strips of orange zest.