That carrots, a vegetable firmly rooted in the world of savoury, are the main component of perhaps the best type of cake truly feels like one of life’s great mysteries. Less of a mystery is how it tastes so good. It has all the elements one can desire in the perfect cake: a soft sponge, chewy raisins and a little crunch from the walnuts, all topped with a rich cream cheese icing.
Though a regular resident of many a café cake cabinet, there’s no reason you have to miss out on freshly baked carrot cake while everything is shut. In fact, this recipe can help you feel like you’re back in your favourite café, sipping on coffee in a world where it’s legal to be within two metres of anyone.
- Large bowl
- Small bowl
- Wooden Spoon/Rubber Spatula
- Baking paper/parchment
- Medium size loaf tin
For the Cake:
- 150 ml Vegetable Oil (plus extra for greasing)
- 200g/1 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
- 2 tbsp neutral-flavour vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
- 180g/1.5 cups self-raising flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 300g grated carrot
- 100g raisins
- 80g chopped walnuts (optional)
For the Icing:
- 300g Vegan cream cheese (I used the Oatly version)
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 Lemon for zesting
- Preheat the oven to 160°C (Fan)/180°C (non-Fan), and grease your loaf tin with a little bit of oil.
- Pour the 150ml vegetable oil into the bowl, and add 200g dark brown sugar. Whisk gently for a few moments until well combined.
- Whisk in the 2 tbsp of vinegar, then combine with 2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda.
- Swap to the spoon/spatula and fold in 180g flour, the mixed spice, a pinch of salt and the remaining 1/2 tsp bicarb. It’s best to be gentle here, if you mix too hard you can end up with a dense and chewy cake.
- Fold in the carrot, raisins and walnuts (if using), and continue to mix until everything is well-combined (no streaks in the flour or unincorporated carrot).
- Line the loaf tin with a piece of baking paper that overhangs slightly. This just helps to remove the cake further down the line.
- Tip the mixture into the tin, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Smooth the top lightly with the back of the spoon/spatula.
- Place the tin in the centre of the oven for 50 mins, making sure to not open the oven to avoid getting a dip in the cake. At 50 mins, test the cake with a skewer or small knife. If it comes out clean then it’s all done, if not give the cake another 5-10 mins.
- Once done, take the cake out of the oven remove from the tin using the baking paper ‘flaps’. Leave until cooled completely.
- In a separate bowl, combine the cream ‘cheese’ with the icing sugar, and mix with a spoon until there are no more sugar lumps.
- On the cooled cake, distribute the icing evenly on the top in big spoonfuls, then smooth with the back of a spoon. My icing was a bit lacking so I’ve doubled the amounts in the recipe.
- Finish off with a sprinkling of lemon zest.
The cake serves about 10 slices, and freezes well un-iced.
As an aside to this recipe, I can say I fully recommend Oatly’s ‘Cream Cheese’ as a more than adequate substitute for the real thing. It has a creamy texture, and its neutral flavour lends itself well as a vessel for other flavours. The pots could definitely be bigger though, but that might just be my love of cream cheese icing talking.