Every afternoon, between 4-5pm, I put my feet up for ten minutes to savour a slice of something sweet with my cuppa. This slot is pretty much etched in my schedule. It allows me to catch my breath and re-charge before I get on with what I call “evening mayhem”; the dinner-bath-bed routine for my two kids. On the really crazy busy days when I’m deprived of my afternoon snack, I turn into something rather scary.
For the past few months, it’s been all about the American carrot cake, complete with decadent cream cheese frosting. I can’t remember how I got started, but boy, am I hooked. I crave it every other day, and my next slice is quite often the very last thought before I go to sleep at night.
My perfect carrot cake needs to be prudently-sweetened, amply-spiced, studded with walnuts, raisins, desiccated coconut, and saturated with shredded carrot. I’d prefer it to be baked with wholemeal flour too, especially if my kids are going to have some. Because I’m such a fuss-pot, the only way I’m going to get exactly what I want, is to bake my own. After too many attempts, this final recipe is an amalgamation of at least five different recipes, including Dorie Greenspan’s and Rebecca Rather’s.
Apart from getting a healthy dose of beta-carotene, baking this cake gives your arms a workout (only applicable if you grate the carrots by hand), and it’s a great afternoon activity for your kids. My four-year old son A, comes bounding into the kitchen every time I call for his help with baking. He carefully mixes the dry ingredients together, and is a pro at stirring in the nuts and raisins at the end. He particularly enjoys nibbling on shards of carrot when he thinks I’m not watching.
Wholemeal Carrot Cake
250ml (1 cup) canola oil
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup plain flour (I use organic, unbleached. Or substitute with all-purpose gluten-free flour.)
1 cup wholemeal flour (I use Origins, organic)
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ cup raisins
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
¼ cup desiccated coconut
350g carrots, finely-grated
Preheat oven to 180Celsius (350°Fahrenheit).
Line two 3 x 9-inch loaf pans, or two 9-inch round cake tins (to make layered carrot cake with frosting in between) with parchment paper.
Whisk together eggs, oil, white sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl.
In separate bowl, sift flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon and ground ginger.
Tip dry ingredients into wet mixture. Mix just to combine.
Stir in raisins, walnuts, dessicated coconut, and grated carrot. Mix well.
Pour into prepared loaf pans, and bake for 25-30min total, turning pans around in oven midway through baking.
Cool completely before frosting.
If freezing, cool cakes completely, then wrap tightly in clingwrap. To serve, take out of freezer, and leave to thaw out at room temperature before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
100g cream cheese, room temperature
50g unsalted butter, room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
Mix cream cheese and butter together until well blended.
Stir in vanilla extract.
Pour in sifted icing sugar, mix well and beat for 1 min.
Frost cakes only after they have completely cooled down.