Recipe 86: American spiced carrot traybake

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Happy weekend everyone! I hope many of you are thinking of doing some baking this weekend, even I am planning to make some of Mary’s hot cross buns (guilty treat). Since I’ve not eaten anything naughty for 2 weeks (and have lost 4lbs  – woo!) I think it’s about time don’t you?

Carrot cake is one of my all time favourites; it took me a long time to try it (only did 2 years ago) because I had never ever considered putting veg in a cake, didn’t seem right, felt wrong. But since that day, I fell in love with it! Too much and you start feeling a little sick, so this recipe is perfect really because you get 21 slices of pure heaven. Obviously, if one isn’t enough you could always have a sneaky second sliver (oo alliteration, good work English a level).

I’ve put a few pointers down below with this recipe because there’s a few things I experienced while making it. The best thing to do, is always toast the nuts (in any cake and so on) before using them, much much better flavour and more crunch, no one wants them to be soggy.

Go on, you know you want to!

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 275 g self-raising flour
  • 350 g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 75 g unsalted chopped nuts (I just used walnuts)
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 300 ml sunflower oil (I melted down Stork because I had forgot to buy sunflower oil!)
  • 275 g grated carrots
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 400 g full-fat soft cheese
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 tsp clear honey
  • Chopped unsalted nuts, to decorate (again, I used chopped walnuts)

Tips:

  1. Always toast your nuts before adding them to your cakes, it’ll bring out the wonderful flavours of the nuts, stop them going soggy and add a nice amount of crunch.
  2. You could always change the honey for maple syrup or agave nectar.
  3. This topping, for me, was a bit too cheesy. So, I added a couple of tbsp’s of icing sugar and the juice of a whole lemon instead of just 2 tsp. Completely up to you, but just something to bear in mind!
  4. You can store the cake in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas mark 4. Grease a 12 x 9″ traybake tin and line it with baking parchment. IMG_3886
  2. Add all of the dry cake ingredients to a bowl; then add the oil (or butter), grated carrots, eggs (one at a time) and the vanilla extract, beating between each addition. Pour into your prepared tray and level the surface.IMG_3888
  3. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until the cake is well risen, golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes (or leave to cool in the tin completely, there’s no real rush!) then turn out onto a wire rack. IMG_3896
  4. To make the cream cheese topping, mix together the cheese, honey and lemon juice, adding more lemon juice to achieve spreading consistency.
  5. Spread evenly over the cake with a palette knife, then sprinkle over your (toasted) chopped nuts to decorate. Cut into 21 pieces. Enjoy!
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