I really wanted to emphasise the vegetable theme when I made the kumara cake, and working in a very large office meant I wanted to bring a second cake anyway so there was enough to go around. Carrot cake is always a favourite and I have two recipes in my trusty folder - I made the other one a little while ago as cute mini cakes, and felt this one needed an outing. I got the recipe from a friend in Christchurch a few years ago (hope you don't mind me broadcasting your recipe, Daniel!) after he made it to bring on UCanDance's annual Hanmer trip and I experienced its lusciousness. This is a super moist cake, as carrot cake should be, and would actually be fine without icing if you were trying to be a bit healthier (though if I were to intend it to be un-iced I might add chopped walnuts and a bit more spice to add texture and some extra flavour - these additions would be fine either way, actually, but would be more prominent if it was served plain).
An optional process is to soak the carrots with some lemon juice and brown sugar for an hour or two prior to using them - this sweetens them up so makes a yummier cake - and we all want that. When you're ready to make the cake just drain the liquid away and you're good to go.
Another really easy recipe - this uses part butter, part oil, but the butter is melted completely before being added so the mixing can all be done with a spatula or wooden spoon. All the better for baking with kids, or just if you can't be bothered fiddling about with beaters and things!
The secret to the wonderous texture of this cake is the inclusion of pineapple. I understand there are those who think this is a compulsory addition to carrot cake, and those who think it's obscene. I think it's fantastic in terms of texture and keeping the cake moist, and it's a lot healthier than the sour cream my other carrot cake uses for these purposes (though please understand I am not claiming it is actually healthy, but, you know, there's a sliding scale...).
The recipe calls for bran, which we didn't have, so I added extra wholemeal flour which worked perfectly well. I also must confess that although I have given you the recipe for cream cheese icing which came with the recipe, my technique for cream cheese icing is adding about 30g of softened butter to 250g of cream cheese, beating until smooth, adding icing sugar to get the right thickness, then lemon juice or vanilla to taste - the most important thing is to add a bit of butter (which must be soft enough to beat into the cream cheese but still give structure), because otherwise you'll need a mountain of icing sugar to get any stiffness, and the sugar can overwhelm the delicious cream cheese.
I can't believe I haven't made this cake more often, because it is fantastic - something about the ingredient composition of this recipe means the crust is unusually light, which is yet another factor in its favour as a cake which can be served icing-less (naked?). Because it's so golden looking I didn't want to cover the whole thing - I usually ice cakes completely - so I just dolloped the icing on top and scattered a few bits of walnut over it.
Completely unsurprisingly, based on looks alone this was the cake my colleagues chose if they were early enough to have the choice - and though I think in flavour the kumara and ginger cake edged out ahead in terms of flavour there wasn't much in it - they're both fantastically easy to make and delicious with and without lashings of cream cheese on top!
Daniel’s Carrot Cake
1 cup flour
2 tsp cinnamon
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup sugar
¾ cup bran (or extra wholemeal flour)
¾ cup oil
1 tin (~450g) crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups grated carrot (3 large carrots)
(optional) 1 Tbsp brown sugar
(optional) 1 lemon
(optional) Grate carrot and cover with water in a bowl with brown sugar and lemon juice. Leave to stand for two hours. When ready to proceed, drain water off. This softens the carrot and improves the taste.
Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius. Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the wholemeal flour, sugar and bran. Melt butter, and stir melted butter and oil into mixture. Beat the eggs, then add eggs, pineapple, and carrot. Bake in a 23cm cake tin for 50-65 minutes.
250g cream cheese
110g butter, softened
500g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
Lemon juice to taste
(optional) walnuts to decorate
Cream butter, then beat together all ingredients until creamy and smooth. Spread on cooled cake, and top with walnuts if desired.