Given my love of all cakes and all things vegetable it’s taken me nearly 28 years to accept that they can work really well together. I blame far too many dry, over sweet, mass-produced carrot cakes of the past. Hugh F-W inspired me to put beetroot in brownies and squash in cake.
About a month ago I had the sudden urge to bake carrot cake. After some recommendations on Twitter I landed on an adapted Rachel Allen recipe on TheMadHouse. I made the cake a few weeks back and it went down very well so for Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea wanted to adapt it to make mini fairy cake sized carrot cake. The mindset is that it has carrots in it so it must be good, ahem, we’ll just ignore all the other ingredients. Inspired by a flavour combination my mum suggested to me I’m going to try this cake in a couple of weeks time replacing the carrots and walnuts with courgette & pistachio. We’re planting some unusual varieties of carrots in the garden this year, Purple Haze & Red Samurai. I’m not sure if they will make it into cakes, but they could inject some interesting colour into baking.
What I’ve also learnt recently is although I’m not a big icing fan, to transform a good carrot cake into an amazing carrot cake is that it must have cream cheese icing. The slight tartness of the icing makes all the difference and brings the earthiness out of the carrots. Depending on how thick you want the icing will depend on the type of cream cheese you use. If you use the full fat variety it will make icing you can pipe, the lower fat version (which I used) is not as stiff and can sometimes collapse if piped so if using the lighter version spread it onto the cake rather than piping. These cakes have transformed me and even my cake-hating Father-in-Law to the wonders of a perfectly moist & delicious carrot cake. For an interesting twist on this recipe see my Courgette & Pistachio cake.
Mini Carrot Cakes – adapted from The Best Carrot Cake
Makes around 10 mini cakes
70ml vegetable oil or rapeseed oil, plus extra for greasing
100g muscovado sugar
150g grated carrots, (Don’t bother peeling them. I blitz them in the food processor)
35g pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
90g self-raising flour
1 tiny pinch of salt
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg or mace
¼ tsp Mixed spice
25g cream cheese, chilled
25g butter, at room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
125g icing sugar, sifted
½ orange, zest only