With Fathers Day on the weekend, it made me think about how lucky I am to have grown up with such a great Dad. I’ve written about him before – how there is almost nothing he can’t fix (except that one toaster, which in his words “failed spectacularly”) and no trade he can’t seem to master, from mechanic to architect, plumber to chef (but, er, not at the same time) and almost everything in between. He’s a pretty clever guy!
Carrot Cake is one of my Dad’s favourite desserts, second only to the Kumquat Pecan Pie I made a few years ago. I decided to try a different recipe this year, from the Bourke St Bakery cookbook, which came highly rated by a few friends who have tried it. This is one of my favourite books to just sit and flick through, the pictures are stunning and the recipes are inspirational. Plus it’s always nice to try making these awesome bakery treats at home.
The recipe may look a little bit long and complicated but as long as you follow the order of steps as it’s written, you won’t have any problems. I doubled the spices (and quadrupled the cinnamon) because I like a headily spiced carrot cake, but stayed true to the rest of the recipe and it turned out beautifully. The cake was quite light thanks to the meringue component that is folded in at the end, and I really like the rustic look.
While I like this version better than my usual go-to recipe, especially with the addition of walnuts, Dad ever-so-slightly preferred the other one, which produces a slightly denser cake. But the thing every great carrot cake should have, no exceptions, is a fantastic cream cheese icing, so I used my favourite recipe, which is possibly the easiest (and dare I say it, most delicious) icing in the entire world, and that is something that Dad and I definitely agree on.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy xox
• 70g walnuts
• 150g self-raising flour
• ¼ teaspoon baking powder
• ¼ teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
• ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 2 egg whites
• 60g caster sugar (for eggwhites)
• 1 egg
• 1 egg yolk
• 160g caster sugar (for egg yolks)
• 170ml extra light olive oil
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 125g carrots, peeled and grated
Cream Cheese Icing
• 250g cream cheese, room temperature
• 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F) and grease a 20cm round cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper. The paper should protrude about 2.5cm above the tin.Place the walnuts on a baking tray and cook for 4-5 minutes or until lightly roasted. Cool and cut into thirds.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt into a bowl. Repeat to ensure they are evenly mixed.Put the egg whites in a very clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks start to form. Slowly pout in the sugar for the egg whites while the motor is still running and whisk until soft peaks form. Quickly transfer the meringue to another bowl and set aside until needed.
Put the egg and egg yolk in the bowl of an electric mixer and add the sugar for egg yolks. Mix on high speed for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture doubles in volume and is quite airy. With the motor still running, slowly pour the oil in a thin stream being careful that it doesn’t split or deflate too much.Remove the bowl from the mixer and with a spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture until combined. Fold in the carrots and walnuts. Working quickly, lightly fold in the meringue, but do not fold in completely. You should still be able to see white streaks through the mixture.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. You may need to drop the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F) after the first 30 minutes if the top is browning too quickly.
To make cream cheese icing, combine ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes before turning it onto a wire rack to cool completely. Using a serrated knife, slice horizontally through the centre of the cake to form two even-sized layers and fill with cream cheese frosting. Dust the top of the cake with icing sugar and serve.