Some lovely people have been getting in touch with the Apocalypse Bakery recently, asking for advice on baking for an occasion, or looking for the best recipe for a particular cake. So each Sunday the blog will feature the recipe for a reader’s request, with a slightly more observational/instructional take on the usual recipes. Today starts with A’s request for a carrot cake that she can make for a friend. The specifics are that the cake should not have any nuts or raisins in it, and that she could make it without the aid of a kitchen mixer.
The one word that springs to mind whenever anyone even mentions carrot cake is inevitably ‘moist’. But, without nuts and raisins to aid the texture, the cake would need to be very light otherwise this archetypal moisture simply becomes an undifferentiated mush in your mouth. Plus, it’s the spices that always make a good carrot cake for me; cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger are essential. But, if I’m being honest, I’ve not previously paid much attention to the state of the cake; it really has just been an excuse for that amazing cream cheese icing.
After some nosing around the blogs and recipe books, I came across this recipe, which was described as ‘light and forgiving whether or not you make it with nuts and raisins or a few extra spices.’ Perfect. Plus, I tend to trust anything from Smitten Kitchen.
I made 1 ½ times this recipe, for a 9 inch 2 layer cake, and 12 cupcakes. A seemed pretty pleased with the cupcake she tasted, and confident that she would be able to achieve the same at home. Also, S. was really enthusiastic about his icing-free cupcake, proving that cream cheese maketh not the carrot cake.
A’s Carrot Cake
250g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
300ml vegetable oil
4 large eggs
345g finely grated carrot – I used 4 and a bit large carrots for that. 4 would probably do, I think I was just looking for an excuse to eat the left over raw carrot. You could use a less fine grating if you want to save your fingernails and your sanity, but I think it is worth it to go for the fine grating. Then again, as you can clearly tell from this blog, I am willing to trade in my sanity for good cake.
Nuts and raisins do also work well in this recipe so if you like them, add about 120g of nuts (preferably walnuts or pecans) and 150g of raisins.
This recipe will make either 24 cupcakes (fill the wrappers ¾ full) or 2, 9 inch round cakes.
1) Preheat oven to 350 F or 177 C.
2) Place flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger into a bowl, and whisk to blend.
3) In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and oil until thoroughly mixed. The mix turned pale yellow.
4) Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking the mix after each egg is added. The mixture will become thicker and more yellow.
5) Add in the flour mixture, and stir in until just blended. The first time of making the recipe, I was a bit lazy and just ‘stirred’ with a whisk, which meant there was too much air in the mix. Learn from me people, it is worth washing up that extra wooden spoon.
6) Stir in the grated carrot, and the nuts and raisins if using.
7) Pour the mixture into the cake tins/ spoon into the cupcake liners. This stuff is runny, so if you are going for the cupcakes, be prepared to get batter everywhere.
8) Bake cupcake for 15-18 minutes, or cakes for about 35-40 minutes. With the cake, I would recommend checking anywhere after 30 minutes; you want the tester inserted in the centre of the cake to come out clean. I reckon these cakes will take more overbaking than underbaking, so if you aren’t sure, I would say leave it in for a minute or two longer.
9) Let cakes cool completely before icing.
Maple Cream Cheese Icing
200g cream cheese
56g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120g icing sugar
30ml maple syrup
This is best done in a stand mixer or with a handheld beater, where you can just chuck everything in one bowl (sifting in the icing sugar) and beat it until fluffy. The recommendation was to chill the icing for 10-20 minutes to make it firmer and easier for icing. I skipped this step, as I wanted to experiment with swirling on the fluffy icing. The result: be content with the homemade, billowing look.
I’m sure that it can also be done by hand if you are willing to put some elbow grease in; beat the cream cheese, butter and maple sugar together, and then sift in the icing sugar and beat until fluffy, or when your arms give up.
I have another recipe for cream cheese icing here, which is much easier to mix together without mechanical help.
Sundays your way – get in touch!
If you have a recipe request – whether it’s a specific cake you would like a recipe found for, a recipe in hand that you would like tried out, or an apocalyptic event that requires baking your way out of, then get in touch. Email apocalypsebakery [at] gmail [dot] com or leave a comment on the blog.
Tune in next week on ‘Sundays your way’ for the best baked goods to accompany hot chocolate!