Carrot Cake. What is more heavenly than the moist seductiveness of a creamy carrot cake?! Cinnamon, cream cheese and an unbeatable texture just make this cake the king of all baking creations for me. Yes, I love carrot cake. Badly.
I remember the first time I had carrot cake. I was pretty little, maybe around 10, and our American neighbour Rita handed us some home-baked cake over the fence that separated our gardens. I had a bite and was immediately transported into a totally new universe. I had never, ever tasted something like that before. Cinnamon, moist, juicy, creamy, and extremely sweet. Hell, I was instantly hooked.
But what followed were years and years of disappointment. When, every time I had found a slice of carrot cake, that sad feeling would overcome me… It would normally come after taking the first bite and realizing that this cake was either too dry, too stodgy or simply didn’t taste of cinnamon at all. My search for that perfect carrot cake took me from Starbucks to small bakeries in Switzerland (where they call it Rübli Kuchen) and street markets in London, all in vain. That is until I discovered this recipe.
In fact, it was my friend Gordon who introduced me to the world’s best ever carrot cake. If it weren’t for him, I’d still be desperately eating carrot cake in every London coffee shop, sighing every time another disappointment would come my way. But for my last birthday, Gordon brought along this beauty, which he had made especially for me. A perfect carrot cake. So perfect it put a tear in my eye and instantly transported me back to that moment Rita handed me her slice of carrot cake. Heaven…
Now the funny thing about this cake is that it is no secret over-the-generations-handed-down family recipe. No. It’s in fact adapted from the recipe of a British sandwich franchise called Pret A Manger, which is actually owned by McDonalds!!! Ridiculous, ey?! It sounds like making coffee with a Starbucks recipe – pretty insulting to any proper foodie. But… I have to say… damn, it really is the ultimate carrot cake recipe. Amazing. Fantastic. Mindblowing. Unbeatable. What? I hear you say no! Well, go on and try it and tell me if you have a better one. I dare you! And if you do say you can top this one, I’ll happily try out your recipe. Promised. ★
The Perfect Carrot Cake
Makes 1 cake for 10 people
For the Cake:
2 medium eggs
200g brown sugar
150ml of sunflower or vegetable oil
200g plain flour
40g desiccated coconut
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
200g grated carrot
75g tinned pineapple
For the Icing:
100g cream cheese
50g unsalted butter
400g icing sugar
Preheat oven to 150c. Line a square baking tin (about 20 cm on each side) with baking paper.
Chop the walnut and pineapple pieces so they end up quite small.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs at high speed, add the sugar and continue beating until pale and fluffy. Keep the whisk on at high speed, and add the oil in a steady stream. Keep beating until the mixture holds the shape of any trail across the surface.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, dessicated coconut, the cinnamon, baking powder, and salt, then fold into the egg mix. Once mixed, gently incorporate the grated carrot, the pineapple and the walnuts.
Transfer the mixture to your tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean. If it browns too much before the middle is done, then chuck some foil over it to stop it from burning.
Prepare the icing. Cut the butter into little blocks, and then using an electric whisk, cream the butter and cream cheese together. Add the icing sugar in 3 parts, but hand beat the mixture at first (otherwise you end up covered in icing sugar dust). Once that is all in and mixed, carry on using the electric whist until any lumps have gone from the icing. Put in the fridge to set.
Once your cake is done, leave to cool for 10-15 mins, before turning onto a wire rack. Then, when it’s cool, spread the icing generously over the top.
Voila, pure carrot pleasure!!