Nutty carrot & cream cheese cake

Carrot cake is such an understated and unpretentious cake – but done right and it is a magnificent and heavenly treat. It should be light and fluffy, yet ‘solid’, filled with crunchy pecan nuts and layers of cream cheese frrrrosting…

It’s also a cake that I’ve never made before – yes I love to eat it, it’s one of my all-time faves, I’ve just never made it.
So, I decided to make it a few weeks ago for our dinner guests – we had so many carrots from the garden and it seemed the perfect time to give it a go! I used a recipe from my all-time Domestic-Goddess-Hero – the one and only, Martha Stewart. {Ha – you thought I was going to say Nigella..! Nope, I love her too, but Martha will always be the best!}

The cake was to-die-for, BUT I somehow tried to remove one layer from the baking tin too soon and ended up with a bit of a lopsided cake…

So… I made another batch! This time round, I made a small cake and 10 cupcakes. {I was planning on making cupcakes for my husband, decorated especially for his Xterra triathlon event, so I just decided to make carrot cupcakes instead.}

The result – 10 yummy scrummy carrot cupcakes, topped with cream cheese frosting and finished off with fondant icing with the Xterra logo and some fun pics:

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The cake also came out really well – perfect size for a small family – enrobed in deliciously rich and fluffy cream cheese frosting and chopped pecans:

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You will need:
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda {bicarbonate of soda}
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
340g butter, at room temp, plus extra for the pans
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
450g grated carrots {8-10 medium carrots}
2 cups pecan nuts {1 cup finely chopped for the batter, 1 cup coarsely chopped for the outside of the cake}

Start off by pre-heating the oven to 175C and preparing your pans:
Butter, line with baking paper and butter again {only the bottoms} 3x 23cm cake pans; OR if you want some cupcakes too, prepare 2x 15cm cake pans and 10x cupcake cases.
Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg – set aside.
Beat the butter and sugars in a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one and mix well after each addition. Add the vanilla, water and carrots – mix well.
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and then the pecans.
Make sure everything is well incorporated and divide between pans.
If you are making the large cake with 3 layers, bake for approx 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
For the smaller, 2 layer cake, bake for approx 45 minutes {until toothpick comes out clean}.
Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes.

For the frosting:
250g butter, at room temp
250g cream cheese, at room temp
3 cups icing sugar

Mix together until light and fluffy.

To assemble:
Using a serrated knife, carefully trim the rounded top off one of the cakes. Use that one on the bottom and spread a decent layer of frosting on top. Place the other layer on top and cover the top and sides of the entire cake with frosting. Cover the sides of the cake with the rest of the pecans.

If you’re making cupcakes, you can either just pipe the frosting on as you normally would, or, to make a fondant outer, first spread a thin layer of cream cheese frosting on top of the cupcake, then cover with fondant and decorate as you want.

Enjoy! X

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