31 August 2012

Carrot Cake 2.0

I'm trying to knock this post out at lightning speed because my housemate (the first of six) is arriving any minute and I want to get to know her rather than greet her before hurriedly rushing back upstairs to finish this post. She's been really helpful with setting up bills and reading meters for me when I was in Plymouth, so to thank her I've made her a carrot cake, which I've been told is her favourite. Regular readers may recall that I made another carrot cake way back in April, but it had its flaws: the icing was too sweet and the cake was not dense enough.

Well, you'll be pleased to hear that this one has fixed those things. In the interests of changing things up, I also swapped the raisins for walnuts and reinvented the icing by adding cream cheese to Faux French Buttercream (pioneered by Bravetart) to create the best cream cheese icing I have ever made. I can't remember all the types I have tried as I've had my fair share of carrot cake over the years, but this one has to come close to the top. It is smooth and tangy, like a good cream cheese icing should be, and is not as intoxicatingly sweet as my previous icing. Needless to say, I'm pretty pleased.

Until I sliced the cakes in half I was convinced that something had gone wrong because the batter seemed more carrot than cake mix, and seemed to have browned a little too much (to be fair, this could be the oven's fault as I'm still getting used to its whims). However, when I cut them in half I saw that they were actually looking pretty fluffy and had retained a good density - hooray!

I wanted the cake to be four layer - I may have gained a penchant for the dramatic ever since making my sister's Eight Layer Kahlua Cake - but had to make do without my palette knife and turntable because they are still at home while I patiently wait for my parents to send the rest of my baking gear up to me, so the cutting was not as uniform as I would have liked. I managed to disguise the almost-mangled slices with buttercream, though, so it's all ok. Worry not!

I followed a tip that was tweeted by Melissa at The Baked Equation and added a tsp of grated ginger (though I just re-read the tip, and apparently I was meant to use 1-2 tablespoons) which was supposed to bring out the flavours of the other spices. There was definitely a subtle spiciness to the cake but I couldn't taste any ginger, however I may just need a second slice of cake to determine whether the tip worked or not. I would recommend this cake to those of you who are not keen on the overly sweet and those who love a good piece of carrot cake. There can never be too much carrot cake!

For the cake:

  • 275g Carrots
  • 200g Self Raising Flour
  • 250mL Sunflower Oil
  • 1 Tsp baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 Tsp Grated Ginger
  • 2 Eggs
  • 50g Walnuts
  • 200g Caster Sugar
For the icing:
  • 250g Butter
  • 5 Egg Yolks
  • 90g Caster Sugar
  • 200g Philadelphia Cheese
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan and line two sandwich tins with parchment paper.
  • Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, then fold in the baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
  • In a separate bowl (or the measuring jug with the sunflower oil in it), beat the eggs into the oil until smooth. Pour onto the flour mix and stir well until fully combined.
  • Peel the carrots and chop off the ends, then grate them into the bowl. 
  • Break half of the walnuts into small chunks and add to the carrots in the bowl, then stir well before dividing the batter between the sandwich tins.
  • Bake for 22 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean. 
  • Turn the cakes out onto a rack and leave to cool before putting into the fridge for 30 mins.
  • While the cakes are in the fridge, make the cream cheese icing: place the yolks and sugar in a bowl over a pan of hot water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. 
  • Put the pan over a medium heat and whisk the egg yolks until the sugar has dissolved (cautiously dip your fingers into the yolks and rub them together to find out - if you feel grains the sugar has not yet dissolved.)
  • As soon as the sugar has dissolved, remove the bowl from the heat and pour into a clean mixing bowl. Whisk until the yolks have doubled in height.
  • Make sure the butter is at room temperature and cut it into manageable chunks. Add the butter, a chunk at a time, to the yolks before whisking it in. You should end up with a soft (but will still hold its shape) and shiny buttercream.
  • Whisk in the (room temperature) cream cheese.
  • Take the cakes out of the fridge and carefully cut them in half (horizontally, so that you end up with two thin cakes). 
  • Place one slice on a plate and cover with some of the icing. Continue layering the icing until you run out of cake!
  • Break up the remaining walnuts and pile them up in the centre of the cake.
Check out my uniform cake-slicing-in-half skills.

For tips on how to make this cake a little better for you, take a look at Healthy(ish) Baking.

I am really excited for tomorrow as I'm going to be bringing a new blogging challenge to the table. What does it entail? Check back tomorrow to find out!

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