Carrot Cake

Good old carrot cake isn’t exactly a stranger to our taste buds, in fact recipes for carrot cake date back to 1827. Unlike the recipes back then that instructed you to ‘boil the carrots over an open fire’, my recipe is a modern combination of Harry Eastwood’s and Delia’s carrot cakes.

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I decided to combine the two recipes because Harry Eastwood’s carrot cake from her book ‘Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache’ is a gluten-free cake, so all can enjoy! Whereas Delia’s ‘Ultimate Carrot Cake’ recipe has a fantastic syrup glaze to pour over the cakes when they are fresh out of the oven. I also prefer Delia’s cinnamon mascarpone icing, after all if you’re going to make a carrot cake, you may as well do it properly! But I will give the recipe for the Harry Eastwood’s alternative icing as an interesting alternative.

Carrot Nutritional Info

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We all know carrots are good for you, but what are the benefits?

As kids we were always told to ‘eat our carrots as they’ll help us see in the dark’. From doing a little research this preconception came about during World War II when the British Royal Air Force claimed that the secret to their fighter pilots clear, sharp vision was carrots. (It was actually because of a new radar system they had – but obviously had to keep that fact top secret!). However this sweet, crunchy vegetable has been found to restore the vision of those with Vitamin A deficiencies. This is because of the high beta-carotene content.

Carrots also have fantastic anti-cancer effects due to their antioxidant power in reducing free radicals in the body. They have been found to prevent lung cancer, colorectal cancer, leukaemia and prostate cancer.

Other benefits of this veggie include helping with blood sugar regulation, delaying the effects of ageing and improving the immune function. Check out the Vegetable page to learn more about the health benefits of carrots.

The Cake

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Serves 12

Ingredients

Zest and juice of 1/2 an orange

150 g sultanas

80 g pecans, roughly chopped

3 medium eggs

160 g light muscovado sugar

280 g carrot, peeled and finely grated

150 g white rice flour

80 g ground almonds

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

For the syrup glaze:

Juice of 1/2 an orange

30 g dark brown sugar

2 tsp lemon juice

For the icing:

250 g mascarpone

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp caster sugar

A few whole pecans to decorate

Method

Set the oven to 160ºC and line two 18 cm tins.

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Finely grate the zest of the orange and set aside. Then weigh the sultanas and place in to a bowl, squeeze the orange juice over the sultanas  so they can soak up the juice while you prepare everything else.

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Roughly chop the pecans and place on a baking tray. Pop them in to the oven for approx. 10 minutes, don’t forget about them!!

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Looking back I probably should have chopped them up a little more, it depends how big you want the bits of pecan to be in the cake!

Now weigh/ measure the flour, ground almonds, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Place it all in to a bowl and give it a good stir to make sure it is all incorporated well, especially the baking powder.

In a separate, large bowl, whisk the eggs gradually adding the sugar for approx. 5 minutes. The mixture should turn a pale coffee colour.

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Quickly grate the carrot finely and throw that in to the egg mixture – I re-weighed the carrot after grating to make sure I still had the correct quantity. Also add the orange zest and vanilla essence at this time and gently fold in so you don’t loose the air out of the mixture.

Don’t forget to check on those pecans in the oven!

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Now you need to add the flour mixture, I would suggest at this point that you gradually sieve and fold in the flour. I did not do this as the recipe did not instruct me to, but I think it will help to keep the cake a little lighter.

Add the chopped pecans and sultanas, you can add the orange juice the sultanas have been soaking in as well. Personally, I found the cake a little too ‘orangey’ with all the orange it recommends you include. If I make it again I will probably only include half of this orange juice, but it is up to personally preference!

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Once the sultanas and pecans are incorporated in to the mixture evenly divide it between the two cake tins. I was a bit pedantic and decided to weigh each tin to the mixture was evenly spread between them, but you could throw caution to the wind and take a guess at it!

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Put the tins in to the oven and bake for 35 minutes, check after this time to see if they need any longer.

Now it’s time to move over to Delia’s side of the recipe! To make the syrup glaze you simply need to whisk together the sugar, orange and lemon juice in a small bowl. Make sure that the sugar has completely dissolved in the juice. It produces a dark brown, rather ugly mixture, don’t let this put you off!

You can also prepare the icing at this time. I decided to make half the quantity that Delia’s recipe recommends, this is simply because I didn’t want to drown the cake in icing and the quantities I used made just enough. This is another simple one – just mix the mascarpone, cinnamon, orange juice and sugar together in a bowl. Cover and store in the fridge until you need it.

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When baked, take the cakes out of the oven and stab them all over with a skewer. Then immediately pour syrup glaze evenly over the cakes. The little holes made by the skewer allows the glaze to soak in to the cake, delicious!

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When the cakes are completely cool remove them from their tins. Put one cake on a serving plate, and cover with a third of the icing. Then place the other cake on top and spread icing over the top of this. I decided not to ice the sides as I like to see a bit of the actual cake and because there wouldn’t be enough icing to do so!

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Decorate the cake with a couple of pecans (or more depending on how creative you feel!) and voilà, you have a scrumptious carrot cake ready for eating!

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Do let me know how this turns out for you if you give it a go!

Happy Baking x

If you want to use Harry Eastwood’s alternative icing the recipe is as follows:

Ingredients:

35 g unsalted butter (cold and cubed)

200 g icing sugar

2 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice

35 g cream cheese

finely grated zest of 1/2 a lime

Method:

Whisk the butter until light and softened. Add 100 g of the icing sugar to the butter and whisk to a fine bread crumb consistency. Add the lime juice and whisk again to a paste.

Then add the cream cheese and the lime zest as well as the remaining icing sugar. Beat by hand with a wooden spoon to combine. Refrigerate for 15 minutes before icing the cold cake.

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