Confession, my sister must have made this cake half a dozen times before I actually tried it. She’d tell me it was the best carrot cake ever, I’d nod and smile and make agreeable noises, but I never actually tried it. “I’ll have some later.” “Oh, I didn’t get a slice and now it’s all gone…”
You see, I have never been much of a carrot cake kind of person. In the past I would almost always go for something chocolatey, or a lemon drizzle given the choice. I never saw the appeal in what always seemed to be a stodgy, over-spiced, raisin-filled abomination. But eventually my hand was forced, and I had to try the cake. She was right. Damn it.
This carrot cake is moist, light, chock full of carrot and pecans (a sweeter alternative to bitter walnuts), lightly spiced and smothered in an orange-flecked cream cheese frosting. It’s sublime. It’s perfect. It’s the best carrot cake you will ever make.
- 225g Wholemeal flour
- 1 ½ tsp Baking powder
- 1½ tsp Bicarbonate of soda
- 3 tsp Ground cinnamon
- 1½ tsp Ground ginger
- ½ tsp Ground nutmeg
- 150ml Ground nut, vegetable or light olive oil
- 175g Soft brown sugar
- 4 Eggs
- 2 tbsp Maple syrup or honey
- 450g Carrots, peeled & grated
- 100g Pecans, chopped pecans
- 125g Butter, softened
- ½ tsp Vanilla bean paste
- Zest of one orange
- 360g Cream cheese (Philadelphia is best as it’s firmer and will set better)
- 100g Icing sugar
Set a shelf in the middle of your oven and preheat to 160°C. Line two 20cm (8 inch) springform or lose bottom cake tins with greaseproof paper.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs and maple syrup. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour and mix until combined. Add the grated carrot and chopped pecans to the bowl and stir until everything is well mixed.
Divide the mixture between the cake tins and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Turn out and leave to cool on wire rack.
To make the frosting, beat the butter with the vanilla and orange zest until softened and pale. Add the icing sugar and cream cheese and beat until light, fluffy. Sandwich the cooled cakes together with half of the frosting, and top with the remainder. Decorate with pecan halves.
Keep in the fridge until ready to serve so the frosting is cool and creamy.