Lightly spiced carrot cake with cream cheese topping
I don’t care for the term ‘comfort’ food it seems appropriate at the moment when the covid situation that we find ourselves in is bearing down upon us & it’s easy to become despondent. I heartily dislike the idea of cake eating as ‘being naughty’ or, even worse ‘a sin’, homemade cakes are a joy, a special treat & far healthier than commercially bought cakes and to make a cake for someone else is a really lovely gesture. You can get around the problem of eating too much of it, in case you can’t share it, by cutting it up and freezing portions. You can then take out pieces as you need them -over the top?, maybe, but I will leave you to decide what is best for you this works for me!
On your behalf I have tried lots of different ways to make this cake and, hopefully, you will agree that it is more than quite nice. The idea of the carrot is to keep it moist which it does as does & the idea of using oil rather than butter is to help with the lightness of the sponge. It is lightly spiced and topped with a thick, cream cheese topping. Carrot cake didn’t feature in my childhood but, apparently, carrots have been used as a substitute sweetener for many years when it was difficult to get hold of. I suspect that the cream cheese topping is a later addition from ‘across the pond’. Take care when you make this as you can easily end up with a very runny result that refuses to sit on the cake as it should do.
CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE TOPPING
Use a brownie tin, 23cm square, 5cm deep. (9-inch square, 2 inches deep. Line the base and grease the sides.
400g caster sugar
3 large eggs
275g plain flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder & 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300ml light vegetable oil i.e. sunflower oil
375g grated carrot
200g sultanas ( I like to add a handful of chopped walnuts but this is optional)
- Whisk the eggs with the caster sugar.
- Mix the dry ingredients, flour, cinnamon, baking powder & bicarbonate of soda together and then stir them in.
- Stir in the oil.
- Fold in the carrot, sultanas (and walnut if you are using) and mix together gently without beating.
- Bake at 180C/Gas 4 for approx. 50 minutes. Don’t overbake, it should be quite moist. Leave in the tin for ½ hr and then remove it & put the cake on a wire tray to cool completely. Cover the top of the cake with a generous amount of cream cheese topping.
THICK CREAM CHEESE TOPPING
(It is tempting to overbeat a cream cheese topping and then find that it has gone too runny, with this thicker version & method you can avoid this)
250g cream cheese, drained, at room temperature
400 -600g icing sugar, sieved
A little vanilla paste
Zest of one lemon, finely grated & 1 tbsp. juice.
(You can sprinkle the top with the zest of an orange if you wish)
- Microwave (or melt in a pan) the butter, until just melted but not changing colour. Leave it to cool (but not solidify) and then whisk well.
- Add a tbsp. cream cheese, whisk & then add the rest.
- Start adding the icing sugar, roughly 150g at a time & fold it in using a metal spoon. DON’T overbeat, just fold it in. Keep adding the icing sugar until it is very thick & it doesn’t fall off the spoon. You probably won’t need to use all the icing sugar.
- Stir in the vanilla paste, lemon rind & juice. Leave in the fridge for at least 45 mins before using. Use zested orange peel to decorate if you wish.
- It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or you can freeze it.