Last week it was Carrot Cake Day and Twitter exploded with tantalising images and delicious recipes for carrot cake of of all sorts. I’ve been dying for a slice of cream cheese frosting covered carrot cake for while now, so decided that the time was perfect for a little indulgence.
I have an old recipe for a carrot and cashew nut cake from my bakery days that used to be quite popular, but decided to play around with it and I settled on the new variation below. A scrumptious, slightly sophisticated carrot and almond cake with enough spiciness to make you sit upright. If a spicy carrot cake is not your thing, then obviously just lighten up on the mixed spice and cinnamon, but I recommend you give it at least a try.
Carrot cake, of course, wouldn’t be the same without a luscious cream cheese frosting. I like to add lemon juice and lemon zest, but just the juice is fine if you don’t have a microplane – which in my opinion is essential for a really fine zest so that the frosting’s texture is not compromised.
Now, I know that traditionally pecan nuts and walnuts are used in carrot cake, but that’s why I thought whole almonds and a splash of almond extract would be a welcome change to this old time favourite. Another big debate around carrot cake is whether to add banana or crushed pineapple for additional moistness. I used to love adding banana and a a handful of desiccated coconut, but with this recipe I only added banana. I find pineapple lends the cake too much to Hummingbird cake. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s a cake for another day’s discussion.
Here’s my recipe:
CARROT & ALMOND CAKE
- 275 g flour
- 115 g self-raising flour
- 7.5 ml bicarbonate of soda
- 7.5 ml mixed spice
- 5 ml ground cinnamon
- 330 g brown sugar
- 100 g whole raw almonds, chopped
- 5 eggs
- 300 g carrots, grated
- 2 bananas, mashed
- 375 ml vegetable oil
- 5 ml vanilla extract
- 2.5 ml almond extract
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and prepare two 20cm round tins with non-stick spray.
- Sift the flours, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and mixed spice together in a large bowl.
- Whisk the eggs and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until pale and thick, then slowly add the oil in a thin, steady stream.
- Add the mashed bananas and mix through before adding the flour mixture and the chopped almonds.
- Add the grated carrots after the flour has been incorporated and then add the vanilla and almond extract.
- Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for about 20 minutes before lowering the oven temperature to 160 degrees Celsius to continue baking until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake – about another 35 – 45 minutes.
- Remove the baked cakes from the oven and allow to cool down before turning out onto a cooling rack. Prepare the cream cheese frosting in the meantime – see recipe below.
- Once the cakes are completely cooled, carefully sliced each layer in half so that you have four equally thick layers.
- Now place the first layer onto your serving platter and spread a generous amount of frosting all the way to the edges. Place the second layer of cake on top of the first and continue with the process until you finish the with last layer, topped with cream cheese frosting.
- Decorate the cake with additional whole almonds and some flower petals.
- Serve generous slices with a cup of tea.
VANILLA & LEMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
enough for a four layer 20cm round cake
- 240 g butter, at room temperature
- 480 g cream cheese, take out of the fridge for at least 15 minutes before using
- 850 g icing sugar, sifted
- 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
- juice of half a lemon
- zest of half a lemon
- Whisk the butter with an electric mixer until pale before adding the cream cheese.
- Continue whisking until well incorporated, then add the icing sugar in three batches and whisk well after each addition.
- Add the the lemon juice, zest and vanilla seeds. Mix through.
- Use the cream cheese frosting on carrot cake, hummingbird cake, apple and sultana cake or banana loaf. It can even be warmed gently in the microwave to pour over cinnamon buns.
- Store the cream cheese frosting in the fridge for up to a week.
The carrot cake keeps well at room temperature, if it’s not too hot, otherwise keep it in the fridge, covered, for up to a week.