Prep: 30 min // Bake: 40 min
I found this recipe in one of my top 10 cookbooks I own, it's titled the "Egg" by check Blanche Vaughan. I have written in the past (read here) about this book and praised its fantastic recipes. With only a few slight deviations from the original book recipe (mainly around the spices and sugars), this carrot cake is beating all carrot cakes I have ever tried in various different fancy cafes and tea rooms across London and the UK. Our friends absolutely love it when they visit and always ask for the recipe and the secrets around it. So here it is shared and posted on the web for all of you asking. Oh, and I definitely recommend buying te Blanche Vaughan's egg recipes cookbook; everything I cooked from this book was an absolute let alone easy to follow.
This cake has plenty of carrots which makes it extra moist but also helps keep it longer. The use of buckwheat flour gives this bake an extra nutty flavour and generally is a flour I like and use a lot for my bakes. In absence of buckwheat, replace it with any other tasty flour (like spelt) or simply with plain flour. This recipe contains much less sugar, both for the topping and the cake, allowing the sweetness to occur from the extra carrots it contains. On top of the original recipe in Blanche’s book, I have optionally added a few scoops of flaxseeds for an extra healthy kick.
What's the secret to top flavour?
Best quality ingredients, fresh spices and some tasty flour.
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
For the cake:
4 medium carrots (around 400g)
150g soft muscovado sugar (or any other unrefined dark sugar)
150g plain flour
100g buckwheat flour
100g pecan nuts or walnuts
200ml sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract (or pure vanilla bean powder)
1 small cinnamon stick (around 1 tsp ground), 5-6 cloves (ground) and a few nutmeg gratings
(or alternatively use 1.5 tsp festive mixed spice)
2 tbsp flaxseeds or linseeds (ground) - optional
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
A pinch of fine salt
For the frosting:
150g good quality unsalted butter (I use Lurpak), softened at room temperature
300g Philadelphia cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g icing sugar
Optionally 1/2 lime zest (unwaxed)
Chopped nuts, cinnamon or any other topping of your liking
Start preparations (10 min): Peel and grate the carrots using the fine grating holes and set them aside. Using a grater like this will save you some of the mess. Add the nuts in a multi and pulse a couple of times until finely chopped. Crush the cinnamon and cloves using a pestle and mortar (or use ground spices instead). Sift the flours using a large sieve (like this) before you use them. Sifting removes the air between the flour granules and makes your cake lighter and fluffier.
Line your cake tin with baking paper and preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan).
Start mixing (10 min): In a big bowl beat the eggs with the sugar with an electric mixer for around 5 minutes until light and creamy. Add the vanilla extract, spices, nuts and grated carrots and give it a good mix using a spatula or big spoon. Stir in the sunflower oil, and then the flours, baking powder, baking soda and a pinch of salt and fold everything together gently but thoroughly.
Bake (40 min): Line the baking tin with baking paper (it will save the cake edges from burning) and pour the mixture in. Bake for 40 min or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool down completely before spreading the cold frosting (around 20-30 min).
Prepare the frosting (10 min): You can make it while the cake is cooling or you can prepare it ahead of time and store it in a sealed container in your fridge. Beat the softened butter with your electric mixer or a balloon whisk until it’s creamy. Add the cream cheese and vanilla extract and mix. Add the icing sugar (and lime zest if using) and combine everything together.
When the cake is cool enough to not melt the frosting, spread it and decorate with ground nuts or the topping of your choice.
Will keep well for 4-5 days in a cake container (like this) in the fridge.