Do you have a favourite cake? The one you can't say no to, the one you would always pick from a menu, the one you would choose as your birthday cake.
For me it's a Carrot Cake. I love the combination of a moist and not overly sweet sponge with the sugary icing layers. It's a perfect afternoon treat, but works well as an after-meal dessert too. Hey, it's not fat-free, but the carrots are there to maintain a pretence of health, right? ;)
I have discovered the Carrot Cake when I moved to England and I have been ordering it at every possible occasion ever since. You could say I have gained some experience in judging them!!
My all time favourite is the Carrot and Roasted Walnut Cake by Laura Amos of The Dessert Deli, so imagine how excited I was when she announced the publishing of her cookbook last year! I hoped she would include this recipe (she did!) and, as soon as she launched her book, I got my hands on it!
Finally I could try her recipe and learn how to make the best Carrot Cake!
Of course, in order to prepare a special cake, you need to wait for a special occasion! And what better excuse than your own birthday?
I'm turning thirty-two on Sunday and this year I was really keen to making my own birthday cake. I am going away for the weekend (a trip to York with the husband!), so the baking took place last weekend.
It was not easy and quick, as I had to cook the two layers of sponge separataly (I only have one cake stamp!). Spreading the icing proved to be more complicated than I thought (despite attending a cupcake decoration workshop for my hen party, I am still slow and messy with this kind of things)! But after all the hours of work, the end result was so beautiful and perfect, that it made all the efforts worth it.
I cut a slice when the icing was still soft and the sponge still warm; I should have waited, but I could not resist. The first bite was a mix of disbelief and pride: did I really make this, woah, well done Giulia!
My husband declared it better than The Dessert Deli's cake, but he might not be entirely impartial there! ;)
I loved it and, despite usually being very critical about anything I make, this time I really could not find anything to change or improve about this recipe. It is perfect as it is.
Cream Cheese Icing
- 600g icing sugar
- 200g Philadelphia cream cheese
- 125g salted butter, softened
- zest of 1 orange
- 250g salted butter
- 300g caster sugar
- 4 medium free range eggs
- 350g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon*
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 500g grated carrots
- 50g roasted walnuts
Pre-heat the oven to 160ºC. Grease the bottom and sides of a cake tin.
Cream the salted butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs slowly one by one and mix until fully combined.
In a separate bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Sieve the dry mixture into the cake batter and continue mixing until combined. Add the grated carrot and mix further.
Divide the batter in half and pour each into a cake tin. Smooth the mixture with the back of a spoon until even. Place into the oven for approximately 45 minutes. When the cake is golden and springy to the touch, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
In the meantime, cream the butter and sieved icing sugar together, then add the cream cheese and orange zest. Mix until smooth.
Spread the icing over one cake, then place the other cake over it. Cover with icing on the top and sides and decorate as you like. I used small sugar carrots from Lakeland.