Monday, 13 December 2010

Christmas Carrot Cake...

This cake is not just for Christmas...However, it seems the combinations of spices, winter vegetables and dark sugars means that it lends itself to this festive season.

This cake is dark, moist and decedent - not unlike other fruit based cakes that are stacked high in the local shops and supermarkets throughout december.  The difference is that this cake doesn't need to be made weeks, months or even years before it is consumed.  It isn't seeped in alcohol and therefore it is wonderfully refreshing to consume alongside some of those heavy Christmas meals - when over-indulgence is so often on the menu.  Unlike light sponges and chocolate cakes, this cake will keep for a good period of time - provided it isn't all devoured within the first few hours!  If you want to keep it for a couple of weeks - or perhaps over the christmas period - then I would suggest not making the topping all at once, but in smaller portions and serving it as an accompniament to the cake, on the side, rather than on top.

Ingredients for the Cake
8 oz (225g) Self-Raising Wholemeal Flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
seeds from 5 cardomom pods, crushed 
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 medium free-range eggs
8 fl.oz (240ml) of vegetable or sunflower oil
4 oz (115g) dark brown soft sugar
2 oz (60g) light brown soft sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
12 oz carrots, grated
Zest and juice of one orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 oz pecan nuts, roughly chopped

Ingredients for the topping
5oz (150g) Mascarpone cheese
Zest of one orange
2 tsp lemon juice
50g icing sugar

Pre-heat your over to Gas Mark 3 (160C).  You need two bowls.  Once Large mixing bowl and one smaller bowl.

Bowl 1 - the smaller bowl : Sieve the flour, cinnamon, groung ginger, crushed cardomom seeds and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl.  Add any rusk, that doesn't sieve through, into the bowl with the sieved flour.

Bowl 2 - the large mixing bowl : crack the four eggs into the bowl and lightly whisk.  Add the oil, sugars and golden syrup and whisk for 2 minutes to get as much air into the mixture as possible.

Add the dry flour mix from bowl one into bowl two, a couple of tbsp's at a time, and fold into the mixture until the contents of both bowls are combined in the larger mixing bowl.  This mixture should become dark and glossy, like a pale treacle.  Delicious!

Grate the carrots into the mixture, add the orange zest, juice and lemon juice and mix.  Roughly chop the pecans and add them into the mixture.  Stir to combine.

Line the base of a 23" round, loose based clip tin. Any loose base tin will do but if it is smaller and deeper then the cake will take longer to cook in the centre.  Pour the mixture into the tin and place the tin on the middle shelf of the oven for around 45 minutes.  After the 45 minutes, check to see if the cake is done by inserting a sharp knife, or skewer, into the centre of the cake.  If the knife, or skewer, comes out clean then the cake is done.  If it comes out wet then leave the cake in the over for a further 5-10 minutes.

Whilst the cake is in the oven you have plenty of time to make the topping, do the washing up and clean your workstation!  To make the topping simply put the mascarpone cheese into a small mixing bowl.  Add the lemon juice and orange zest and stir.  Sift in the icing sugar (suggested 50g, but really it is to your own personal taste - I would say no more than 100g).  Mix all the ingredients together and place in the fridge to cool and semi-set.  This will make it easier to spread without dripping down the cake.

Allow the cake to completely cool in the tin.  This may take a couple of hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.  Once cooled, spread the mascarpone topping onto the cake top, using a palette knife (a butter or standard knife will suffice)! Absolutely decilious and wonderful with a glass (or two) of mulled wine.

> ok so maybe we had a few slices before I remembered to take a photograph - it's not a crime!

Katie x

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