As those who know me on Facebook and Instagram will be aware, I am leaving my job after almost 14 years. I have worked in a number of different roles for the same company but it finally feels like it is time to move on and try something new. So in a month from now I will be starting over. Yikes! When I announced to my team a few weeks ago that I was leaving, their biggest concern seemed to be who was going to feed them. I bake a lot for work. To make them feel better I agreed to bring something in weekly… and to take requests. I have been delving into my old faithful recipes but someone requested a carrot cake recently. I do have a carrot cake recipe but it’s a layer cake and transporting a layer cake across multiple train journeys at rush hour is not easy. Instead I decided to go for a tray bake. It was very popular and I will definitely be making it again.
I used to have this amazing carrot cake recipe a few years ago. It was everything a carrot cake should be – moist, spicy, light… except that somewhere in one of my many moves, I lost it. Bereft and somewhat annoyed with myself for not writing it down, I haven’t made a carrot cake in ages. But after we accidentally ended up with a surplus of carrots, I decided to take the plunge and find a new recipe. This is the result. I think it is every bit as good as the original but why not try it out and see for yourself.
Carrot cake with maple cream cheese icing
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia
2 Cups flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 Cup golden caster sugar
1 Cup soft light-brown sugar
1 Cup grape seed oil
1 240g can pineapple slices in juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
3 Cups peeled, grated carrots (5 -10 carrots depending on size)
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Large handful of pumpkin seeds
½ Cup raisins or sultanas
500g full fat cream cheese
2 Cups of icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ Maple syrup
Turn your oven on to 100 C. Put your pumpkin seeds on a baking tray and pop them onto the top shelf of the oven while you grate your carrots. I use pumpkin seeds because I am allergic to nuts and I think they made a great substitute but feel free to use roughly chopped pecans or walnuts if you prefer.
Now grate your carrots. I suggest using the finer side of a box grater and doing it by hand. This will ensure that you get a light and fine textured cake. If you use the thicker side of a box grater or a food processor it can get a bit chunky.
Take the pumpkin seeds out of the oven. Return the shelf to the middle of the oven and turn the temperature up to 180 C (or 170 for a fan oven).
In a medium sized bowl stir together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger.
Put the pineapple slices in your blender with a couple of tablespoons of their liquid and blend until pureed.
In a separate large bowl whisk together pineapple pure, sugars and oil until well blended. Add in the eggs one at a time. Now stir in the flour mixture until just blended. Add in the vanilla, carrots, fresh ginger, pumpkin seeds and raisins.
Lightly grease and line three 20cm layer cake tins. Divide your batter evenly between them. Bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 25 – 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for five minutes before removing from the tin and allowing to cool completely on a cooling tray.
Making cream cheese icing can be very tricky and it easily turns to gloop so be careful. First cream together the butter and cream cheese together until mixed together. Always use full fat cream cheese or it will destabilise. Add the maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Now add the icing sugar half a cup at a time. As soon as it starts to get a little runny stop and do not add any more sugar. You want something runnier than a buttercream but not so runny it slides off the cake. Put your icing in the fridge for at least an hour before icing the cake to help it keep its shape.
Once your cakes are completely cold, spread each layer with icing and sandwich them together before covering the entire cake with the remaining icing.
Store the cake in the fridge in order to keep the icing stable. This cake refrigerates and keeps well for 3 – 4 days.