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carrot cake

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Carrot cake with chocolate ganache

Some people believe that vegetables in cakes are a huge misunderstanding. I can well sympathise with that view – you wouldn’t have thought to put onions into a cake? They are fools though to call carrot cake a misunderstanding – or maybe it’s an exception that proves the rule?*

What a classic it is! Staple in every respectable old-fashioned English tea room, and in those quaint eateries that line up puddings on the counter under glass cloches, and the choice you get is invariably victoria sponge, cheesecake and carrot cake. I wonder who and how first conceived of putting grated carrots into a cake mix? Maybe it was serendipitous, a clump of grated carrots accidently fell into pound cake batter, and the cook, willy-nilly, baked the lot thinking to sling it out for the birds to eat. But it looked all right once out of the oven, so 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 – otherwise they just used carrots because they were short of butter, which makes a boring story.

Cream cheese frosting is the classic to a classic – but I have a problem with that, even though I love cream cheese frosting, as it means cake needs to be kept in the fridge. And cake eaten out of a fridge is WRONG. Second worse to keeping tomatoes in the fridge. So I figured, apricot jam will go famously with the spiced moist cake, and the ganache on top is just pure indulgence.

Carrot cake with apricot filling

The recipe comes from incomparable Dan Lepard’s ‘Short and Sweet’ and my twist is the filling and topping.

*rubbish – courgette cake is actually very decent too.

carrot cake

Servings: 12-14Time: about 2 hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 175g (scant 1 1/2 cup) plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 200g (1 cup) soft brown or muscovado sugar
  • 150ml (scant 2/3 cup) vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g (2 cups) grated carrots
  • 70g (1/2 cup) raisins or sultanas
  • For the filling:
  • 4 generous tablespoons of apricot jam, warmed up if very thick
  • For the ganache:
  • 60g (2oz.) white cooking chocolate (or any plain white)
  • 30g (2 tbsp) double cream

Grated carrots


METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Butter and line with parchment a 20cm round tin.

2. Grate the carrots – to get 200g you need to grate about 3 medium sized ones.

3. Mix the flour with baking powder and the spices and put aside. Mix 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 all in with a spatula.

4. 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.

Carrot cake

5. When completely cold, slice it across in two layers with a large bread knife. Spread apricot jam over the bottom half in a generous layer. Cover with the top half.

Carrot cake layers

6. Prepare the ganache: break up the chocolate into pieces as small as possible. Put the cream in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Immediately add the chocolate and leave to stand (in the microwave) for a minute or two. Whisk together into smooth ganache.

7. 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 delishhh on its own, too.

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