Sun, 5 October, 2014
Everybody’s favourite tearoom classic, carrot cake. I keep coming back to this recipe as it’s undeniably the best.
Some people think that vegetables in cakes are a huge misunderstanding. I can well sympathise with that view – I wouldn’t put onions into a cake myself. But fools are those who will extend that blanket of contempt over carrot cake, unless it’s the exception that proves the rule.
Carrot cake is a National Treasure rank classic. It’s always been a staple in every respectable old-fashioned English tearoom and in those quaint eateries that line up puddings on the counter under glass cloches. The standard choice you get is invariably a Victoria sponge, a lemon drizzle and a carrot cake. It’s hard to get it wrong; it’s always reliably moist with the cream cheese frosting swirled high and sometimes the random sugar carrot adorning the swirls.
I wonder who and how first conceived of putting grated carrots into a cake mix? Maybe serendipitously a clump of grated carrots accidentally fell into a pound cake batter and the pastry chef of a frugal disposition baked the lot intending to dry it out into biscotti – or put it out for the birds to eat. But since it looked all right once out of the oven, they tried a piece and went ‘you know what, this is not bad at all. This is really interesting. This is DAMN NICE!!!’ I hope it happened like that though I know the truth is probably far more boring: they used carrots because they were short of butter, or something along these lines.
Cream cheese frosting is the classic to a classic but I have a problem with that, even though I love cream cheese frosting: it means cake needs to be kept in the fridge unless it’s eaten all at once. And cake kept in a fridge is pure hassle: you need to remember to take it out and bring to room temperature as eaten chilled is somehow WRONG. Hence I figured, apricot jam will go famously with the spiced moist cake and the white chocolate ganache on top is something no one will object to. The base cake recipe comes from incomparable Dan Lepard’s ‘Short and Sweet’.
carrot cakeServings: 12-14Time: about 2 hours
- 175g (1½ cup) plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- 200g (1 cup) soft brown or muscovado sugar
- 150ml (2/3 cup) vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 200g (2 cups) grated carrots
- 70g (½ cup) raisins or sultanas
- For the filling:
- 4 tbsp. apricot jam, warmed up if very thick
- For the ganache:
- 60g (2oz.) white cooking chocolate (or any plain white)
- 30g (2 tbsp) double cream
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Butter and line with parchment a 20cm (8in.) round tin.
2. Mix the flour with baking powder and the spices and put aside. Beat the sugar with the oil in a bowl of a standing mixer (or use a hand mixer), then beat in the eggs. Add the grated carrots, the raisins, sieve in the flour and spice mix and fold it in with a spatula.
3. Pour into the tin and bake for about 50 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin.
4. When completely cold, slice it across in two layers with a large serrated knife. Spread the apricot jam over the bottom half in a generous layer. Cover with the top half.
5. Prepare the ganache: break up the chocolate into small pieces. Put the cream in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, until it starts bubbling. Immediately add the chocolate and leave to stand (in the microwave) for a minute or two. Whisk together into smooth ganache.
6. Using a spoon, drizzle over the top of the cake, letting the ganache dribble over the sides as well. Serve with cream! clotted cream! custard! whipped cream! warm vanilla sauce! caramel sauce! And it’s delish on its own, too.