Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Extra Spicy Carrot and Walnut Birthday Cake

I am all birthday-d out. One sister. One brother in law (to be). Two days. Two birthdays. Too much cake.

For my sister, Monday marked the half-way line to 50. Least impressed was she on the age front that *hopefully* the present and cake front was a little more uplifting. To add to the Sunday-Monday celebrations, on Tuesday we met in London and rummaged through Soho to find the Tate & Lyle Edible Tasting House  followed by  a fat helping of Lobster in bread from the bustling Burger & Lobster - but more on that later…

For brother in law to be it had to be a homemade carrot cake - for two reasons. One; he expressed his love for such cake a week beforehand after enjoying a slice or two of M&S carrot cake and two; after tons of research and a whole blog post later I wanted to face my pathetic fear of cream cheese icing. We all came out of it with a pleasantly surprised BIL and icing successes.  2  peas in 1 delicious pod.

My recipe for cream cheese icing is a winner and I truly urge everyone to give it a go if they have ever come across this kind of gloop before.
This cake is overly nutty, spicy and indulgently rich and the walnuts go a bit soft on the outside when baked in cake, as if they’re fooling you into thinking: “That walnut might be a raisin, how shit would it be if it actually was.” Aaaaand then you are welcomed with the relief of a satisfying crunch.

The thing with CC is that it is such a simple recipe and a tea time favourite that as a baker/person you will find yourself baking it at some point. I’ve made it so many times now (here, and here) that I knew increasing the spice load would make a positively huge difference, an adaptation that I am going to stick to for the rest of my life - or at least until I hit the half-way line to 50.
The Recipe:

For the cake:
I dont know.
300ml sunflower oil or melted butter 
300g finely grated carrots 
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
300g plain/all purpose flour
180g dark brown, soft sugar
120g caster sugar, white
120g chopped walnuts
3 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk 
1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp nutmeg 
1/4 tsp vanilla extract 
1/2 tsp ground ginger 
3 1/2 tsp good quality ground cinnamon
For the icing:
850g icing sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
300g full fat cream cheese
1 tsp lemon juice
For the sides:
180g chopped walnuts

Special Equipment
Deep 23cm/8 inch round baking tin 

The Method:

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and grease baking tin.

Grate the carrots, chop the walnuts and set aside.

In a freestanding mixer, beat the oil/melted butter and both types of sugar on high speed until pale - about 3 minutes.

In the mean time add the dry ingredients, including the spices, into a medium bowl and stir with a spoon - set aside.

Add the eggs & egg yolk one at a time into the oil mixture and beat for a further 4 minutes until fluffy and pale/r.

On low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 parts until just incorporated.

Take a metal spoon and fold in vanilla extract, then the carrots and lastly the walnuts.

Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean - maximum baking time is an hour.

Rest the cake as it is for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

Whilst the cake is cooling, make the icing. 

In a freestanding mixer, throw in all of the ingredients except lemon juice and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Next, add the lemon juice and mixe on a higher speed until thick and smooth. Add more lemon juice to taste.

Once the cake is cooled, cut the cake straight through the middle and level the top. Add 4 heaped tbsp of icing in the middle and smooth with a spatula. Use the same spatula to cover the sides and top, do not worry about making the sides look neat if you are covering them in walnuts.
Walnut wall
Do you have a favourite carrot cake recipe?
Love Em xx


  1. Becs @ Lay the table20 March 2013 13:03

    It looks delicious! You can make that for my next birthday where I will nearly be halfway to 60 ;)

  2. I love carrot cake. It's one of my favourite cakes. I could easily polish off a few slices. I love the idea of it being extra spicy, some carrot cakes can be a little bland. Gorgeous photos as well :)

    1. becs - halfway to 60 is most definitely the year of carrot birthday cake!

      sophie - the extra spice adds such a well needed kick to the cake, carrot cake is without a doubt a british favourite too x

  3. Wow...this sounds and looks amazing!I will definitely try this version. I baked some carrot cupcakes recently that included crushed pineapple and pecans...they were delicious and so moist! I'll share the recipe soon.

    1. they sound great! although ive always been a bit sceptical of adding pineapple, could you taste the gooeyness of the pineapple? that would totally turn me off. ive yet to try with pecans, but can already imagine the sweetness they would bring, especially if using extra spice! yum.

      cant wait for the recipe!

  4. When I read "half way to 50" I thought to myself "25 then... I'll be 25 later this year... OH NO I'M HALF WAY TO 50!" haha.

    Freaking out aside, lovely looking cake. I like the walnuts pressed into the side. My mum has been not so subtly dropping hints about carrot cake recently so I may have to make one soon.

    1. I'm sorry for making you freak out ! haha. but seriously. make your mama this carrot cake - she willlove it !

  5. Annes Kitchen21 March 2013 10:08

    Wow, that cake looks loooooovely :) Just found you through Twitter and really like your site, I'll be stopping by regularly from now on! x

    1. Thank you Anne! I have been drooling over your photography literally all morning and have newly subscribed,

  6. Your photos are gorgeous! I love the idea of an extra spicy carrot cake!

    1. Hi Jenny, thank you !
      yes it really does make the carrot cake go the extra mile in terms of taste!

  7. Hi Em. Just found you through Rosa's blog and like your site. I'll surely be back.

    1. Hi Lail, thank you so much! I am equally in awe of your photos on the your site !

  8. The cake looks and sounds delicious! Love the addition of spice!

  9. WOW! This cake looks totally perfect and so moist. yum.

    1. it was so moist and oh so spicy,
      thanks for stopping by,
      im glad you did as it now means that i have also seen your blog and am amazed at what ive seen!

  10. Hi Em,
    Spicy carrot and Walnut.. Very different combination.
    But it looks very delicious.
    Plz give me only one piece of this cake.


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