Who needs another carrot cake? I do, especially when it’s a carrot, ginger and almond cake studded with preserved stem ginger and topped with a layer of cream cheese frosting, extra ginger and almond flakes.
Cakes? I've baked them all
Is it a sign of my proficient skills and huge baking experience that very rarely these days I stumble upon a cake recipe that makes me run into the kitchen IMMEDIATELY and check my eggs and butter stocks?
I look through recipes regularly, obviously, in weekend supplements or cookery newsletters apart from trawling competition. But unlike in the past, when there was always something I pulled out or bookmarked, not so much draws my attention these days.
I’ve baked it all, I say to jaded myself. This looks rubbish; that is an old boring staple. I’d rather go and see if you can bake a cake out of parsnips (you can). There are only so many cakes in the world and I’ve tried my hand at most.
The universe of cakes
That’s completely not true.
There is probably an infinite number of cakes in the world provided of course you think of all the individual examples of the species: like raspberry cheesecake, chocolate cheesecake, no bake cheesecake for instance, not just ‘cheesecake’.
And that was what caught my eye recently: a subspecies of carrot cake.
It was carrot and ginger by Skye McAlpine. Carrot cake and ginger cake – can you marry these two perfections to create an even better thing? Offspring are not always a better product than parents, so I wasn’t too sure.
Cakes and vegetables don't mix
I know all about the ‘veg belongs on a dinner plate’ objections. Some people don’t like ginger unless in a stir fry.
I’m not a huge fan of chocolate sauce for venison and I’ve never tried the Turkish chicken dessert, Tavuk gögsü but one has to be open-minded, right?
Ingredients are versatile if you let them. And carrot cakes as well as ginger cakes are totally my favourites: squidgy, wet in a good sense and open to receive frostings, raisins, nuts or chocolate.
Plus, let’s be honest: I just wanted an excuse to make good cream cheese frosting.
How to make the carrot and ginger cake?
Take your best carrot cake recipe and add chopped stem ginger to the batter!
Joking aside, this is a very good standalone carrot cake recipe, easily made with a standing or handheld mixer but perfectly doable with a hand whisk too.
It’s an oil-based cake which makes for a tender, moist crumb. The wet ingredients, the oil and the eggs are beaten with brown sugar until smooth.
Stirred together dry ingredients, the flour, baking powder and soda plus spices, are beaten or whisked in in three additions.
The grated carrots are added, generously, with chopped stem ginger and that’s the mix ready for the oven.
Cream cheese frosting
I always feel deprived when it comes to cream cheese frosting since The Weather Man ‘is not keen’ (translation: he hates the stuff).
So whenever I get a chance, I make double the amount and eat any unused frosting with a spoon. I don’t really, but that’s the extent of my craving for it aptly described.
The frosting is spread over just the top of cooled cake, after the time-honoured English tearoom tradition: sandwiching cake with frosting is for Victoria sandwich, everybody knows that. Also, that would call for the frosting to be renamed to filling, and that’s just hassle.
Daintily decorated with almond flakes and some reserved, preserved ginger slices, it’s as delightful in taste as it is in looks.
More carrot cake recipes
I keep coming back to this recipe as it’s undeniably the best for everybody’s favourite tearoom classic, carrot cake.
Ultimate recipe for fancy carrot cake with lemon cream cheese frosting. Dan Lepard's recipe for moist, spiced carrot cake with orange and pistachios, a special carrot cake.
Venetian carrot cake, Nigella Lawson’s recipe for gluten free carrot cake with pine nuts. A simple tart-like carrot cake with no frosting but a handful of boozy raisins thrown into the batter.
More ginger cake recipes
Ginger cake with marmalade or jam filling and maple syrup glaze. My ginger cake with stem or crystallised ginger pieces and maple syrup icing is a perfect holiday or pre-holiday cake and it’s stupidly easy to bake.
Old fashioned Yorkshire parkin is a sticky, glorious cake full of ginger and spice, treacle and golden syrup, thoroughly traditional for the Bonfire Night.
Sticky pear and ginger cake: it is dark, moist and spicy like gingerbread cake, with juicy chunks of pears and crunchy pecans scattered over the sticky syrupy surface.