This wondrous cake had quite innocuous beginnings. I found the recipe in a free magazine from Woolworths supermarket called Fresh. The magazine’s design is quite nice, it has some nice simple dinner ideas in each issue, and it has inspired a couple of new flavour combinations for me. It’s something that I pick up if I see it, but I haven’t really cooked a lot from it. I can’t help but think though, that it would be sort of fun to work on a small food-based magazine like this every month!
It was right around my dad’s birthday last year, and he asked me to make a carrot cake. This was the first recipe I found so I decided to run with it, even though on closer inspection I realised that the instruction to actually add the specified grated carrot to the carrot cake mixture was thoughtlessly omitted! I was certainly not expecting magic, but this little beauty took us all by surprise, and dad exclaimed that this is the best cake he’s ever had – quite the compliment! It was wonderfully moist with subtle but intriguing spices. It was also the first time I’d ever tried cream cheese icing which is now one of my absolute favourites.
In the months since then, I’ve made this cake a few times, steadily making improvements with each attempt. This time I was inspired by an abundance of carrots in the fridge, but really, who needs an excuse!
I think I’ve really nailed it this time, and now I’m glad I didn’t rush to share the recipe with you all last September when I made it for Fathers’ Day. I reduced the 1 cup of oil to ¾ cup then added an extra carrot and a teaspoon of vanilla. I also like to double the quantity of cream cheese icing and turn it into a layer cake. It would also be nice with some finely chopped walnuts or cashews, either in the cake or sprinkled with some cinnamon between the layers.
Adapted from Fresh Magazine, June 2007
• 3 medium sized carrots, peeled and grated
• ¾ cup olive oil
• 1 cup caster sugar
• 3 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 ½ cups self-raising flour
• ½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
• 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground cloves
Cream Cheese Icing
Note: It’s a good idea to double this mixture if making a layer cake. You’ll have a little leftover, which is nice on toast!
• 250g cream cheese
• 1 cup icing sugar
• 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a 20cm round springform baking tin with baking paper.
2. Beat oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla together in an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Sift flour, bicarb soda and spices over the mixture and mix slowly to combine.
3. Fold in grated carrot with a wooden spoon or spatula
4. Spoon into prepared tin. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Stand for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
5. To make cream cheese icing, combine ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth.
6. Using a serrated knife, cut the cake in half horizontally. Spread icing in the middle, over the top and sides of the cake. I also sprinkled a little bit of ground cinnamon between the layers of cake.