I'm all in favour of big flavours and have an aversion to anything that tastes a bit nothing-y, so I like the levels of fragrant spice and citrus in this cake, but if it's too much for you, you can always reduce the amounts by half. I prefer using pecans to walnuts, but if walnuts are more your thing, by all means substitute them or you can leave the nuts out altogether. Likewise with the sultanas. You can substitute them for raisins, soak them in apple juice, calvados or rum if the mood takes you, or leave out the dried fruit altogether. It's your cake, so don't put anything in it that you don't like.
I've been inspired to make carrot cake this week by Caroline's Cake Company, a cake maker based in Birmingham. She makes beautiful looking cakes and has been on a mission to find a special carrot cake for a client. So, here you go, Caroline. I hope this ends your search!
Preheat the oven to 150C (130C Fan) and grease and line a loaf tin or 7" round.
for the cake
2 eggs, beaten
5 fl. oz sunflower oil
8 oz/ 200 g light muscovado sugar
10 oz/ 250 g (about 3- 4 carrot's worth) grated carrot
3 oz/ 75 g sultanas
The zest and juice of one orange
3 oz/ 75 g pecans, roughly chopped
7 oz/ 175 g self raising flour
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp cinammon
1 tsp mixed spice
A pinch of salt
for the icing
10 oz/ 250 g cream cheese
4 oz/ 100 g soft, unsalted butter
12 oz/ 300 g icing sugar
The juice of a lemon and half an orange
for the cake
- Soak the sultanas in orange juice for about half an hour (or longer if you have it), so that the sultanas are plump and citrus-y.
- Beat the eggs, oil and sugar together until completely combined and slightly frothy.
- Add the carrot, chopped nuts and drained sultanas and mix together.
- Sift the dry ingredients over the wet and mix.
- Add the orange zest and stir through.
- Pour the cake batter into your prepared tin, level the top and bake on the centre shelf of your oven for 1 - 1 1/4 hours or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before turning the cake out of its tin on a wire rack until completely cool.
- Whisk together the butter and cheese and sift half the icing sugar over the top and whisk it in.
- Sift over the remaining sugar and whisk until smooth.
- Mix in the lemon and orange juice to taste.
- Smooth the icing over the top of your cooled carrot cake and its ready to serve.