A Classic Carrot Cake & a twist
There are many recipes for the humble carrot cake, I know, but one can never have too much of a good thing, right? I believe there is enough room for them all, as we all have different tastes. Some like the addition of pecans, pineapple, walnuts, currants and even sultanas. While for others the simpler the better. If you are interested in a little read there is an article on the Good Food website about finding Australia's best carrot cake which is quite fascinating.
As I sit here at our kitchen table, scribbling away in my notebook (I always write my blog posts by hand before typing them up, old fashioned I know, but I love it) the time has almost ticked over to 10:30pm. I have just finished my cup of tea and enjoyed another of the little almond, rose, lime and dark chocolate "tea" biscuits. I made these for our mama's and bubba's morning tea catch up and I had a few leftover, yay! I still cant quite believe that in less than a month our little ones will be turning one. Time has certainly flown by!
Going completely off track for a moment, we have somehow managed to set up quite the mosquito haven in our home. Sitting here, every now and then one floats by my face, its "bzzz" of its wings clearly audible as the house is quiet apart from the soft little breaths of little Beau bear (I have now moved from the kitchen table to the couch) as he drinks his milk ever so sleepily. His little hand resting over his face and his small, warm body draped across my lap as I continue to write this, balancing my book on one knee.
This is how it is now, really the only time I can actually sit down in my creative space and put pen to paper, in the quiet hours of darkness towards the end of the day. When the dishes have been done, the stove top wiped clean and the cushions on the couch put back in their place. I wouldn't have it any other way though.
I have wanted to share this recipe from the beginning. It has been handed down from a family member and has been baked more times than I dare to count, always taking pride of place on the counter back in the days of the café. It was by far one of the most popular sweet treats, which saw it being made so frequently that I could just about create it with my eyes closed. I think I am safe to say that quite a few of us felt the same way too!
There is something beautiful about a cake baked in a bundt tin. Does anyone else get taken back to the film "My big fat Greek wedding" when they say bundt? If you have not seen this hilarious movie I highly recommend you do yourself a favour. The laugh lines will be present a good couple of hours later. Those patterns and curves of said tin just make for something special. However, I am still yet to purchase one of those grander designed ones that I see so frequently being used on Instagram. The sheer beauty of them really does take my breath away.
It's always slightly nerve-wracking when taking your chosen cake out of the tin though. A slight jiggle and a tap before inverting it onto a cooling rack always makes me hold my breath, hoping that it unmoulds cleanly and intact without any cracks, dents or crumbs that have been left behind. Its all in the greasing of the tin! And carrot cakes to have the tendency to be quite sticky.
As the tin is lifted, the steam escapes and the cake is left to cool before being smothered with the classic companion to a good carrot cake...cream cheese icing. Its one of life's simple pleasures and my hope is that this recipe will bring many happy moments with whomever you choose to share it with.
I should also note the slight twist I gave this a few weeks ago. It had been some time since I had last made it so I did have to refer back to my journal to refresh my memory, however I didn't have quite enough carrots so I ended up doing a combination of carrots, parsnip and sweet potato and the result, I am happy to report, was one full of a deliciously moist crumb. Dare I say that I think I actually enjoyed this version that little bit more. Can I still call it a carrot cake I wonder?
Makes one large, deep 25cm bundt cake
4 cups grated carrot
2 cups caster sugar
2 and 2/3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons bi-carb soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups light olive oil
6 free-range eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Optional extras - zest of an orange.
Or a combination of carrots, parsnip and sweet potato.
You can also halve this recipe if you don't have a large bundt tin. It also makes lovely cupcakes and smaller cakes too. Just be wary of the baking times as cupcakes will only need about 20 minutes.
Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees. Grease your tin really well with butter, making sure you get into all of the grooves and curves.
In a large bowl, sift your flour, salt, bi-carb, baking powder and cinnamon. Add in the sugar and using a whisk, combine all the ingredients together.
In a separate bowl, add the olive oil, eggs and vanilla paste and whisk these together until they have combined really well.
Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and fold it all together, just before the flour is completely folded through add in the carrots and continue to mix until its combined evenly.
(If you are using the zest of an orange, which is quite lovely too, you can add this in with the carrots)
Pour the mixture into the tin and pop it into the oven for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out just clean.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack. Don't forget to give it a bit of a jiggle and a tap to make sure that it has released around the edges. Leave to cool completely before icing.
Cream cheese icing
70g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g cream cheese, at room temperature
260g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth, then add in the cream cheese bit by bit until this is lovely and smooth also. With the mixer on the lowest setting, add in the icing sugar one spoonful at a time. Add the vanilla bean paste and turn the mixer up to a medium speed and beat for about 3 minutes. If you find that it needs a little more icing sugar just add it in bit by bit until you are happy with the consistency.
Now, all that is needed is to smother your beautiful cake in a generous amount of cream cheese, slice and enjoy! x